A good way to understand your targets is to ask them to list everything that comes to their mind related to a given topic. Free listing is used by anthropologists to understand cultures, behaviors and how communities define themselves.
The method is easy to use especially in big groups. Just ask all the participants to write one word or idea per post-it. You can ask questions like "What makes your community special?" or more targeted questions like "what do you always have in your car?".
The Free listing method can also be used during the ideation phase. In Interaction design for example, if you need to create lists, you'll get something quite exhaustive easily. You can ask the participants questions like "which [bike] brands do you know?", "Name everything you eat for breakfast"...
Don't hesitate to use Free listing during co-creative sessions or even during interviews.