MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Rudy Bublitz – Digital Taxonomy

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Rudy Bublitz, Director of Digital Taxonomy.

Contact Rudy Online:


Digital Taxonomy


My guest is Rudy with Digital Taxonomy.  Digital is name of their website.  I hope you’ll check them out. It’s really an interesting combination of AI and human judgment to transform unstructured text into actionable insights.  I was impressed with their framework for how to derive and pull out high quality in that really-becoming-a-crowded space. I hope you’ll check it out.  


So, my guest today is Rudy with Digital Taxonomy.  Tell us a little bit about Digital Taxonomy.


We are a software provider.  We have two products in our portfolio.  We focus on verbatim coding within the survey research context and that includes traditional verbatim coding where humans are employed.  But our application tries to make best use of both a natural language processing, text analytics, sentiment analysis as well as a machine learning capability to try to automate the things humans do.  We don’t want to replace humans; we just think it’s… you know we can optimize their performance by making best use of these tools that have been around for a while, trying to work that into a human interface.  So, that’s the real struggle.


So, talk to me a little bit about how you guys are different.  There’s a couple of different text analytics companies out there in the market research space.


A couple?


Yes.  [laughter]


And all the freebies and all the …


Right, and then you have AWS, you know what I mean, at scale.


Yeah, you can go out, and you can write things in R, and you can do a lot of things on your own.  But if you’re going to create an interface that humans are going to interplay with those things and control them – those different technologies, that’s a bit harder.  The human interface is really the most important piece because you have to have ways for a lot of people in an organization to use the software, not just specialists. A lot of this stuff… There’s a roomful of three or four specialists that are in charge text analytics, machine learning, and they go off and do their thing.  We’re trying to create an application that can be used by analysts, by coders, by DP staff, by end-customers, everyone.


What is one of your favorite projects that you guys worked on?


Oh, I’ve done a bunch of work.  I’m kind of a Londonphile, and I’ve done a bunch of work on London hotels and restaurants, massive numbers of reviews.  So, I’ve come to know the restaurant and hotel industry quite well in London, which is very helpful. Many of these are the very posh places.  Using the text analytics and a combination of a little bit of human assistance, built basically my own Yelp for London for hotels and restaurants.  You pick sort of the things that are important to you and the ratings of the restaurants. and I can show you selections in that category.


So, from a workflow perspective, how do companies interact with you?  Do they provide you their unstructured data in like a file or are you usually part of a quantitative study?  How does it…?


So, right now we license the software.  So an agency will license the software from us.  The data can come in from any form. And we have an open API as well; so, if it’s a consistent method for transporting data from tools like Decipher, from Askia, from Survey Monkey, anywhere, we can set up an automated process so that  just flows, in the evening. We also have the ability to code in surveys; so, we can analyze open-end as soon as it’s entered in a survey and provide results directly back to the survey. So, most of that is automated, but there’s definitely a file-drag-and-drop as well; it’s very simple.  And so then, the agency or client will go ahead and use any of the tools, code the verbatims, then provide data for whatever is next: tables, reporting; more classically today, it’s visualizations, which is another really fun front for us.


Yeah, that’s super interesting.  Have you guys heard of a company called mTAB?


Yeah, mTAB is a wonderful package.  And I’ve spoken to them, yeah. You know it’s interesting to see these tabulation tools coming to the fore again.  Tabulation is kind of the dirty secret of market research. It’s how the data initially gets represented before it becomes the beautiful dashboard.  Yeah, they have quite a good product.


Yeah, they really do.  It seems like there’d be a really interesting partnership opportunity in that kind of a…


Yeah, and we’re open to that, absolutely.  You know with the API, for instance, you could plug our text analytics directly into a table.  And so, you click on a cell and here are the sentiment results for the people in that cell based on some open-end.  Could be done.


Yeah, it’s super interesting.  Well, if you’d like that connection, drop me a note and I’ll connect you to the CEO.  




So, we are live, obviously, on the floor of MRMW in Cincinnati, Day 2.  You guys are exhibiting. What do you think about the conference so far?


It’s a good conference.  It’s a very high-tech conference.  Most of the people here… The phrase “preaching to the choir” keeps hitting me because it’s going to be difficult… and I speak later today.  I’ve altered my presentation based on Day 1 – some points that are just moot for this audience. It’s a given, and so I’d rather just skip past that and try to talk about where we’re thinking about going in the future.  But it’s a great conference; a lot of very smart people; a lot of great corporate involvement. I am a Cincinnatian; I’m very proud of the market research industry in Cincinnati. We have a few companies here that really impact the industry:  Proctor & Gamble, Burke Market Research, MarketVision, Directions; Kroger is here; Federated’s here; and the old Jergens company, which is now Kao Research. We have a really long tradition in this city of consumer products: lot of soap, lot of candles, lot of shampoo.


Thank you, Proctor & Gamble.  


And food with Kroger.


Yeah, Kroger.  That’s right, absolutely right.  Massive brands.    


They’re huge.  And now Kroger’s brought 8451 here, the Dunnhumby component.  Market research in this city is quite vibrant.


Your talk today, you’re going to be looking, obviously, as you said, more in the future.  That’s super interesting, especially in the context of text analytics, which, I think, I like “right-now” technologies.  Sometimes you can be too early, and sometimes you can be too late. Text analytics feels like it is the Goldilocks of industry over the next probably three to five years.  I think video analytics are, obviously, trending as well, but I see this as really the precursor of video analytics hitting scale because, obviously, you have to have that technology dialed in, and whoever winds up being the standard in this text-analytics space is going to have a big impact, I think, ultimately on the adoption of video analytics and how that data is consumed.


Yeah, I agree.


So, give us a little bit of highlight.  What are you thinking?


As we said, text analytics has become quite common; there are a lot of applications, and it’s difficult to separate yourself just there.  What we’re thinking is: in this industry, there are a lot of agencies; there are a lot of little studies; our samples are small. And we don’t play together very well; agencies don’t talk; they don’t share even though many of us in this room have worked for multiple agencies, who now compete.  

So we’re thinking if we could take a kinder, gentler approach where we could design a place where people could safely and securely pool their results based on text analytics or more traditional machine learning and make that available as sort of a consortium to the industry.  So, how many code frames do we need on hotels and restaurants, and soap, and shampoo? There are probably hundreds because each agency has their own. And yet they’re collecting the same data; they’re reporting it in the same way. If we could pool together the texts so that you might be able to go to a library somewhere and just pull it down, at least the core concepts in that category and start with a history of coded information, again securely protected.  You know maybe we could move this needle forward a little faster. And it wouldn’t matter which text analytics tool you use or which machine learning tool. That’s going to change. I mean they’re really sort of the new in the last five years.

It’s actually very old technology; I’ve been doing this for 20 years.  But in the last five years, a lot of the big players have got involved; so, it’s going to get better.  But I think, philosophically, if we were to work better along those lines, I think that would push the needle forward faster than worrying about the actual bits and bytes of the technology.  


This is a cool point that you’re making, and I actually see this at a quantitative level too.  At a micro-level, this is what happens inside of a survey: I recruit a panelist; the panel knows that it’s a female; the female comes into my survey; and, lo and behold, what’s the first question?  “What’s your gender?” So all the sophistication that we’ve built out over the last 20 years with online data collection has really netted out to a lot of the same bad behaviors and redundant behaviors that had to exist…  Actually, I’ll tell you this: we were better off doing in-mall intercepts because then I could sight-screen five questions, right, and I didn’t have to ask you those. But now we’ve like regressed into these protective shells.  I think it’s absolutely ridiculous and the pain that we’re causing at the panelist-level.

What’s interesting is like you’ve got Lucid and others who have been great at aggregating panels and getting them into survey platforms, but one of their big problems is every panel company has a different definition of age, right, as an example.  So you don’t have a clear path, an API, a triple S structure, JSON or XML or whatever that clearly defines what that category needs to look like or that categorization needs to look like so that you can then skip or auto-populate those questions. And whoever cracks that nut. by the way… It is the gold ring.  I really believe this and this is why: Because then you can start taking things like unstructured social data, structure it, and then feed that into the survey systems too. What you’re talking about becomes a very powerful… I mean it’s the tail that wags the dog in the industry and solves a lot of problems at a lot of levels inside of the workflows.  


I agree.  Age is great.  Age is just a number, by the way, Jamin.  


Well said, sir.  I’m knocking on 50, so I feel you.


I got you beat.  [laughter] Think about that in the context of open-ends.  So, if I’m going to ask you “What do you like about your cellphone?”, “What do you like about your car?” – you’re going to say similar things to what everyone says.  So why wouldn’t I map the core-driving competencies within that field so that I can sort of automatically categorize you maybe by age and by which of those competencies you mentioned and structure the survey, change the survey that I ask you based on that?  If I know that what you liked about your cell phone is its size, then I can go different directions. So, that’s trickier because that’s unstructured, but that’s what we’re saying. If we were to pool together the number of times someone asks the question, “What do you like about your cellphone?” and come up with those driving categories, and people could start from there.  It would be much more proactive. You could certainly code it whenever you want it, you know. And that’s what we say is you have to have a human interface to the system. But I think we could push forward more quickly if we all would play together.


You’re right:  The collaboration needs to exist.  My guest today has been Rudy Bublitz, Digital Taxonomy.  Rudy, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


I would say that email is best:  Yes, we have a London base.  It’s a long thing. Or just call me:  513-307-4925 day or night.


And we’ll, of course, leave that information in the show notes.  Rudy, thanks for being on the show today.  


My pleasure.  Thanks, Jamin.  

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Will Krieger – Reasearch America

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Will Krieger, VP of Research America.

Contact Will Online:


Research America


Will Krieger, Research America, MRMW – He and I got to spend a few minutes together talking about how Research America is improving overall insights deliveries into their customers.  Another piece of our conversation, which I actually thought was really interesting, is that M&A strategy that Rob Porter has put together with Research America to drive 16 successful acquisitions in just a five-year period of time.  I can give you a hint as to what the solution is: It’s all about core values, fit, and culture. Enjoy.


My guest today is Will Krieger, Research America.  Will, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  


Thanks for having me.


So, we’re live today at MRMW in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Have you been to this show before?


I have.  First time was last year.


OK, got it.  And are you from…  I know Research America has an office here, right?


We do.  Yeah, we’re in Blue Ash.  If you know Cincinnati. So, northern Cincinnati.  And I am from Cincinnati. I’ve been here, born and raised in Cincinnati, which is not at all uncommon in the Cincinnati area.  


Yeah, I had an employee from here.  So, my previous business partner, Jayme Plunkett and I, hired out of his graduating class out of Stanford.  And one of them, Alex (I forget his last name now), but was native Cincinnati. And one of the things I found out about the community is, it’s kind of like if you’re born here, you stay here.   


Exactly, and I’ve stayed here.    


Yeah, that’s right.  That’s great, though.


Family’s a big part of that.       


It is.          


Right.  You’ve got the whole family here.  It’s hard to break away from that.


It’s about those core values, I think, too, right?  You have like the similar world view on what’s important and that helps at a corporate level or support that at a corporate level is…  If you go to a different environment, they might not think that those same values are important, and so driving you to do different behaviors that aren’t supportive.  


Very true, very true.


Which is nice about Research America, thinking about that business as…  I know Rob Porter, the CEO, very family-oriented individual. That’s nice to have that little consistency.  


Absolutely.  Every company that we’ve acquired (maybe we’ll get into that) has that same kind of set of core values, if you will:  Collaboration is a big one; integrity; several others. We all have the same set of core values, which helps us mesh together as a team.     


Yeah, I love that.  And that’s one of the things I’ve been picking up more and more with successful companies, is that the intangible, the community that’s created inside of the organization is more important that the assets that are sold.  And my these is that (and this isn’t like some Ah-ha moment that anybody’s going to have; this is well documented) is that the one piece of intellectual property that we have that keeps us differentiated in the marketplace is the relationship with the customer, right?  And if you can drive that relationship internally, it’ll naturally be an extension externally.


Mh-hmm, I agree.  I would add it’s the relationship with the customer and the relationship you have with one another, right?  In order to do your best work, I think it’s critical to have a team that can really gel well together, come up with great ideas, be able to think on behalf of the client.       


Yeah, I totally agree with that point.  So, tell me what’s going on at Research America.  Wait, so how long have you been there?


Yeah, so, I’m from one of the companies that was acquired.  We were acquired in September 2016. So it’s been about two-and-a-half years.  


Yeah, that’s awesome!


Yeah, it’s great.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  So, the quick story is 16 acquisitions in five years.


That’s very fast.    


That’s a lot of acquisitions in a short amount of time.  For the most part, they’re full-service consultancies that have been acquired, kind of in the boutique firm-size:  so plus or minus ten people; so high-touch, high-consultative approach to research. We also have our own field arm of the business as well.  So, what’s new? That’s what’s new really. I mean it’s constantly evolving. I think of myself – I was just saying to somebody – as a solutions consultant:  not just kind of taking in and “Here’s what I’ve done” or “Here’s how I’ve approached it.” but “Here is what our full suite of companies and offerings has.” and ultimately what’s the problem the client has and what solution can we provide to help them.


I love that.  I don’t know if you heard one of the earlier speakers, Gayle of Four Square.  Dude, I mean… on point, right? And she talked about don’t be in love… actually, the way she said it was, “Be in love with the problem, not the solution.”  And I think that is so on point with what drives positive business outcomes.


I agree completely.  


As soon as you start, as they say, “Everything is a nail to a hammer…  That is such as losing proposition in today’s marketplace. You have to be willing to not care about your framework and your offerings and your products and say, “This is the customer’s need.  Can we meet it? And if so… If not, then just help point them in the right direction. Talk about value creation, right? Do you have a favorite, recent customer story or anecdote that maybe is top of the mind?


Yeah, this is the research nerd in me.  Don’t know how exciting it is, right?


I can promise you that for the audience, it’s exciting.


I’ll go for it.  We acquired a company just last year, Parker.  


And where’s Parker based?


Parker’s based in Cincinnati, so we’ve essentially doubled our Cincinnati office size through that acquisition.


Congratulations.  That’s a huge… I mean that’s awesome.


Yeah, Parker is a phenomenal team.  And again, back to the values: we meshed together immediately.  So, they have a solution; it’s called Precision Point; it’s a quant to qual platform.  So, this was done in person. So, all of my background is qualitative and quantitative but traditional stuff:  so focus groups and then moving into a survey or online bulletin board, moving into a survey. This is quant to qual in real time.  So, you’re watching people come in. In this case, they were looking at a product and evaluate it on an iPad. We see data in real time and can choose a sub-group of that larger set of consumers to then do qualitative exercise with, focus group.  So, it’s all happening in a two-hour session. But what was really interesting to me, and I really didn’t expect it, was watching the backroom. If you kind of close your eyes, think about being in the backroom of a focus group: you got people checking email; maybe someone is writing some notes.  We try to create some more activation in the backroom, but in this specific project, people were on their feet, looking at the data come in.   


That’s so awesome.


They were talking about it; they were pointing at it.  It was constant. So, I think it was a lot, took a lot of energy, but it was incredible to see the engagement and activation of what they were learning really happening all in real time.


That’s super unique, first of all.  And the second thing is your depiction of the backroom is accurate.  I’ve moderated focus groups for whatever before the dinosaurs were around it feels like, and normally the level of interaction in the backroom is not high.  Maybe I’m a bad moderator. [laughs]


No, I think that true.


But on the other side too, right, when I’m in the backroom, you kind of see the same thing.  It gets kind of monotonous and boring for a while, honestly. Have you thought about…? Have you guys somehow documented that thing, that product, that experience that you created that was so dynamic and interactive?      


We talk about it.  


That could be such a great white paper, honestly.  I mean that should be a presentation-circuit type of opportunity.  The lack of engagement in the backroom is a big problem. Like that should be where the co-creation is taking place and the buy-in and all that sort of stuff.  I mean that’s a huge white space, I think.


I mean everyone talks about activation of insights, right?


Absolutely, yes.  


To me, that happens in the moment of the research, not necessarily in the report that doesn’t really tell the full story.


Not at all.  Exactly.  


And we’ve done a few things even with focus groups that create, kind of get people out of their seats, get them thinking in the moment about what they’re hearing, and help them listen actively.  Yeah, I think that’s a great idea: some kind of white paper on that would be great. If you could sort of prove that this type of activation in the backroom leads to some…


I wouldn’t even worry about…  Honestly, I would just worry about the first white paper, and the presentation, I think, would be super interesting is…  (This is me imposing it; so, probably everything is wrong but… I would read it.) What does that experience look like? I would just talk about that one experience that you created.  How was that so different? And then describe the interactions on the back side. Maybe even, if they’re willing, client quotes type thing, etc. But that could be super cool.


Great point.  I’m taking that note down.


Yeah, yeah.  For sure, for sure.  So, if somebody wants to get in contact with Research America about a more engaged experience, how would they do that?


Yeah so, the best way would be to reach out by email:  We’re on LinkedIn, Twitter.  


Great. We’ll include that in the show notes also.  Will, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Thanks for having me.  Appreciate it.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Rob Pascale – MAi Research

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Rob Pascale, President and Chief Analytics Officer at MAi Research.

Contact Rob Online:


MAi Research


My guest is Robert Pascale, MAI Research.  You can find him online at MAI  Love the .com by the way. They develop custom market research solutions to address important challenges.  Now, this was a really interesting episode for me ‘cause I have five kids, and he uses as an example diapers.  And one of their customers is a diaper company. And they were trying to figure out how to punch through from a messaging perspective.  Originally, the context was all about leak prevention, but after using their proprietary text analytics, which leverages a Bayesian model, they actually discovered that diaper rash was a bigger driver of consumer intent.  And communicating about the gel protection inside of the diaper is what would actually drive oversize returns. Now interestingly enough, after that company changed the messaging, Shzam! It actually took place. I hope you enjoy this episode.   


My guest today – Rob Pascale, MAI Research.  Does it stand for something?


Marketing Analysts Incorporated.  Initially, that’s what it was.


Got it.


But recently, I guess maybe about ten years ago or so, we changed it to MAI Research.


I like it.  Yeah, IBM kind of did that.  M/A/R/C Research, who you might know, Merrill Dubrow, they did that as well.  And we are at MRMW. Ironically, I don’t have any idea what that stands for. Do you?  


I don’t.  [laughter]  


Anyway, we’re live here in Cincinnati.  What do you think about the show so far?


It’s been good.  It’s been good to reach out and let people know about what we’ve been working on.  We also have a spin-off that we’ve been working on, which is Pathfinder Analytics, which is an analytics division that we’ve added into our…  We’ve kind of broken out from being just an analytics department and really focuses on four primary areas, which are text analytics, which is more focused on understanding the broader ideas that people are talking about rather than trying to bring it back to absolute definitions of words.  So we’re getting more of you can pick up some slang that way; you can pick up what are the ideas people really care about and how the words relate back to those ideas.


I had a boss who used to say, actually I had a client that used to say, so yes, a boss:  “I want you to do what I mean, not what I say.” Is that kind of getting to the point of the sentiment and text analytics that you’re doing?    


Yeah, and actually it’s not sentiment analysis, which does try to assign different degrees of emotion or excitement, things like that, to definitions of words.  And so, what we’re doing is actually just letting the connections between the words people use in context define how the words are used. So we’re not going back to dictionary definitions; we’re not applying any kind of bias initially.  We’re letting people just however they speak defines the words.


That’s so interesting.  So, it’s kind of like Brama in that you define it by what it’s not.  Give me an example of a project and the outcome of that example.     


Sure.  So, let’s see.  There was one that we did where we scraped online reviews.  This was for a diaper product. And what we were able to find out was that when people talked about leak protection, they actually talked more about the softness of the diapers than it was about the actual leak protection itself.  So that actually changed the way the client thought about softness. We also found that… Another thing that we do is with Bayesian networking and by understanding the patterns in language and understanding how it connects to close-ended data, we can understand what’s important to driving some measure.  In this case, we took the star rating as well. So we were able to find out not just that people cared about leak protection but also there was an issue with absorbent gel. And the absorbent gel allowed us to understand more when we dove into the text analytics that it was an issue with the diaper itself.  And people were concerned that the absorbent gel was causing diaper rashes. And what we found was that it wasn’t the actual absorbent gel itself. It was what the absorbent gel was absorbing that was causing the rash. And so, they were able to change their landing page to counteract the negative expectations from people’s reviews about the absorbent gel.          


That’s so interesting ‘cause me as a consumer – and I’ve got five kids; so, I’m really familiar with that, the context of diaper and also the concern around diaper rash.  And in that context, I would have never in a million years thought about that. I would never have made that connection as a consumer, right? But now that you say it, it’s like perfectly clear to me.  And then you could communicate that to me and I’d be like: it’d be an Ah-hah moment for me; absolutely, that’s going to be the brand of choice. Super powerful. What’s your go-to-market? Who’s your ideal customer?       


We do a lot of CPG clients, but really, we can apply these techniques across financial institutions.  Really, there is no limit in terms of where it can be applied. We’ve applied it for B2B situations. There really is no…  


It seems there would be a natural fit in the app space for something like that ‘cause you get a lot of reviews.    


That’s a really good idea.


I mean, gosh, yeah, that just seems like a… I don’t know.  So, what do your terms of trade look like? In other words, how do people engage with you?


Typically, we are reaching out to other people ‘cause a lot of people haven’t heard of us.  


I never heard of you.


Yeah, that’s part of the reason for being here today.  But we wind up reaching out to people, setting up meetings, and just kind of going through our capabilities.


You’re outbound.  So your target, your ideal customer, is it a market researcher…




in a brand, or is it…?  OK.


And marketing.  So we’re trying to reach out more to be in the marketing space, rather than just the researcher space.       


You see yourself really as a martech player?




Do you guys have services wrapped around your stuff?  Your technology or is it not really a technology play?


Yeah, so everything is not a technology in itself.  We don’t every say that it’s a tool. It’s not a canned approach.  Everything we do is very custom. Some of the other things that we really specialize in are in segmentation and applying segmentation in ways that go beyond just the statistics side of it and really focuses on the business.


That makes sense.  What is the time frame on a project usually look like?  


For the text analytics side, it could be..


Well for the diaper study.


That’s a good one because we don’t have any field time in that since it’s just scraping online reviews.  So, a matter of three weeks or so.


OK. So relatively quickly.




Oh, that’s super interesting.  Rob, thanks very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  Oh, and if somebody wants to get in contact with you?

[06:57] or you can go to just MAI or  


So that’s R-O-B. You said “Mary Parker”, MP, is that right? Got it.  Great. Thanks so much for being on the show.


Thank you.  

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Niklas Anzinger – Dalia Research

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Niklas Anzinger, Commercial Lead of Strategic Insights at Dalia Research.

Contact Niklas Online:


Dalia Research


Niklas Anzinger, Dalia Research – fantastic presentation he gave at MRMW.  This piece is super interesting to me because he talks about the importance of companies brands connecting at a niche level, or even more specific to an individual.  The better they can understand the customer, what resonates with them at the individual level, the higher that content is tailored, not in a creepy way, but the higher that content is touching the needs that I have and my emotional strings, the better it is going to be able to deliver on its brand promise.   And Dalia has a really interesting, both as a private market research firm, the supportive systems around it and also the proprietary mobile technology that enables this type of individualized research at scale. Hope you enjoy.


My guest today is Niklas.  Niklas, pronounce your last name again for me please.  




Happy Market Research Podcast.  You’re with Dalia Research. Thanks for being on the show.


Thanks for having me.


We’re live at MRMW today.  This is the first day. When do you speak?


I spoke.


You spoke already.  


Yeah, I spoke already.


How did that go?


It went really good.  So, you always know by the number of questions that people ask, also by the quality of questions that people ask.  And we had a lot of people coming over to the booth right after. I gave a similar talk one-and-a-half years ago, and there I got very little feedback.  So, I’m hoping that shows that I’ve improved.


Yeah, for sure.  Tell us about your presentation.            


So, I was talking about a method to achieve precision for research results at scale.  So, we’re using (and I’m talking mostly above quantitative research) traditional methods such as quota sampling to estimate, for example, the brand perception.  And I gave the example of Heineken that had a marketing campaign that was supposed to reach millennials, and it didn’t go really well. This is not satisfying for researchers.  So, we wanted to know how can we achieve what we want with the campaign. And I’m talking how a new statistical method called MRP is helping to measure much more precisely and what people think of a brand over time.     


So, give me a specific example, like a project that is a highlight for you.


So, I was talking about this example.  So, imagine that you are Heineken and want your marketing campaign to reach millennials but not only millennials, a very specific type of millennials.  They should also play soccer and sort of be digital natives.


Very niche audience.


Exactly.  So, the problem is when you do traditional research, you do a large survey with a 1,000 people but you only have like 20 people that fit the exact profile.  So, from the answers from these 20 people, you can’t really say how well your campaign worked because, statistically speaking, these results aren’t very relevant; they’re highly prone to error.  So what we did we used the alternative method to show how this specific subgroup was receptive to the marketing campaign of Heineken.


Ah, that’s fascinating.  I think winning inside of the niches is becoming more and more important, yet marketing research, I think, in general is still operating at the kind of quant, big-scale point of view.  But, as brands are focusing, to your point, on highly customized communications to constituents that are relevant… So this is not broad brush; it’s got to be like on point to what I care about.  Then you’re really going to find…


I mean you see it everywhere in consumer industries and FMCG that you have small and nimble brands that grow very fast because they’re able to do highly specific targeting in their marketing.  So, if you’re a Warby Parker or a Casper or if you have a new foods or drinks brand, you could grow very, very fast with highly specific targeting. So the big brands, they want to catch up with that, and they want to do more marketing that’s more specific towards certain audiences.  But in order to be able to do that, to measure if they are talking to the right audience, the right kind of people and see how effective their advertising and their marketing is, they need to consider other approaches to research.   


So, tell me a little bit about companies…  What does engagement with you look like? Talk to us a little bit about what is the framework.  How does that work? Is it a survey-based? Is it…


So, we might be a little bit unusual.  So, we combine two pieces: one we connect with billions of people through tens of thousands of apps and mobile websites, more than 100 countries.  So, we have the sampling part. But we also generate insights that help drive human progress. So, what we do is we do the primary research for a company.  We do the survey; we do the research design and we heavily consult in doing that. My approach is to make the service shorter, to make it mobile-friendly, to make respondents engaged.  Go away from 25-minute surveys; go to 5-to-10-minutes. And then what we do is we help the client automate the process. So we’re not going in there and saying, “We’re your agency, and we give you power stats and recommendations.”  Instead, we automatize the process; give our clients dashboards that they and their stakeholders, especially higher management, can easily access and see the results of what’s been going on for the past years on one page. So, just to give you an example.  We were replacing a big agency brand tracking for a big technology company and they had the problem that you have the PowerPoint battles all the time in different countries with many different stakeholders. You had different methodologies: face-to-face here, telephone here; this kind of online there.  So we streamlined it into one solution where they’re now tracking 30 countries partly on a monthly basis, on a quarterly basis. And the results are automatically fed into the dashboards that updates every time there’s new data and new insights from it, and it shows it to all the stakeholders that log into the platform.       


I love that!  That is beautiful!  This consolidated point of view, I think, is also really important.  Are there other market research companies or technology companies in our space that you think could be partners that you’re seeing, like there’s opportunities to co-create, delivering better value to brands?     


Absolutely.  I’m quite talking openly to anyone.  I’m also recommending my clients another vendor if we’re not able to give the best solution.  I think we all need to work together to effectively use technology to help these friends get better insights.  And I have a very collaborative approach to that. We have been partnering with all sorts of other vendors along the value chains on the mobile technology side, on the sampling side, on the dashboards, insights-creation side.  We’re open to everything just to get the best solution for the client.


I love that!  Yeah, you put the customer in the middle, and you always win.  As long as you add value, it’s karma. It just comes back. It just comes back.  It’s funny how it works. Niklas, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?       


You can just write me an email:  Niklas with a “k”, or you can find on our website, you’ll also find a contact page, and you can get in touch with me directly.  


My guest today has been Niklas Anzinger, Dalia Research.  Happy Market Research Podcast, we’re live at MRMW. Actually, I’ve got to ask you one more question, sir.  Besides your talk, what is like one of the talks you’ve been looking forward to the most from MRMW?


Actually, I was actually looking most forward to the introduction from Proctor & Gamble.  I think that really set the tone and set the stage. One of the key insights that I always trying to promote…  Like everyone is talking about technology but it’s really the human insights and using technology to make that more efficient that is driving progress in this kind of space and it is looking at the problem solution diagnostic, instead of using technology to find problems.  So I think that talk was really great and set the stage for further discussion.


Fantastic.  I couldn’t agree more.  Niklas, thanks for being on the show today.


Thanks so much.  

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Nihal Advani – QualSights

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Nihal Advani, Founder and CEO of QualSights.

Contact Nihal Online:




Interview was with Nihal from QualSights.  Getting to know the “why” is vital in consumer insights.  This is why I believe that qualitative tools like Remesh or QualSights are seriously on the rise right now in market research.  If I predict what’s going to happen in the next five years, I really believe that qualitative-based tools are going to do a better job of delivering conversations at scale than historically surveys have been able to do.  Why is that? Because we’re seeing a constant retraction of people from taking the traditional 15-minute, even 10-minute survey. It just doesn’t fit into the context of a modern life. There’s too many competitions for our attention that draws us away from providing that insight.  So the better that qualitative can be conducted at scale through quick hits of insights and really asking open-ended questions, collecting that information in a video, or audio, or a native experience for the user, that can then be analyzed and reduced to both quantitative and qualitative.  So we know this is bigger than that, and we can actually start understanding the “why.” Hope you enjoy this and also hope you’ll check out Nihal online as well as QualSights at


Nihal Advani, QualSights, MRMW.  What do you think about Day 1 of the show?


So far, so good.  It was great to see ….. Gayle from FourSquare.


And you’re presenting, right?


Yes.  Actually, with Gayle later today at 2 P.M.


Gayle is Head of Insights for FourSquare, a massive data company.  I thought it was probably one of the… It’s in my top 10 overall, probably top 5 overall presentations that I’ve ever heard for market research.  It should be a TED Talk. It’s so much value, talking about how data drives positive business outcomes.


Absolutely.  And I would say it’s very interesting to see how she talked about how people vote with their feet and the kind of data they can provide.  So it’s pretty cool.


Yeah, spectacular, actually.  So, you’re speaking with her tomorrow?  Or is it today? It’s actually today.


Today at 2 o’clock.  We’re having a fireside chat.


OK, good.  What are you guys going to talk about?


Getting to “why.”  It’s all about sort of understanding consumers, and she actually talked about a portion of it, which is all precision at scale, and how in our case with QualSights, we can actually offer precision with scale in terms of consumer behavior.  So, in a nutshell, those are the kinds of things we’ll be talking about as well as things around how… you know what’s it like to be at a startup and stuff.


And you have a startup.  QualSights. Tell us a little bit about that.  


Yeah, sure.  It’s, in fact, like we were just saying, it’s basically understanding consumer behavior but doing that with high precision and at scale and basically being able to do remote ethnography in real time.  And that’s, in an essence, what we offer. But we allow someone to use any qualitative method and, essentially, have an all-in-one platform that not just helps people capture data at scale but also analyze and present it much easier and faster.  


And that was part of her thesis is it used to be the case…  Yesterday, she said, it would have been yesterday that you had to decide if it’s scale or precision.  And now it’s precision at scale.


Exactly, exactly.


So, video is a big part of your platform.  


Uh-huh, absolutely.  Video is an integral part and, specifically, also live video.  It something that we offer as a way to do precision at scale, where you can actually engage with consumers as they cook, clean, shop, eat indoors or outdoors and actually probe them in real time as they’re doing these things, therefore, getting that same level of depth that you would have if you were there physically in person.          


Ah, I can’t wait for this fireside chat.  This is going to be great to see that. Now, are you going to be at any other events this year?   


Yeah, IIEX in a couple of weeks.  I mean it’s quite the circuit. Recently, we were at Quirk’s last week and then IIEX in a couple weeks.  And then we’re presenting as the top 5 in the startup competition at IIEX. We also recently got in the top 10 at a pitch competition at ICOM in Malaga in Spain next month.  So, a few big things coming up.


That’s fantastic.  MRMW, this is your second year.  




What do you think about the show this year?  


So far, so good.  It’s just a few hours in but so far, the content has been great already.  And I like that it’s not too big a crowd. And the way it’s set up, so you get to kind of interact with many of the people.  So it’s nice.


Yeah, and they have a…  I mean the speaker lineup is spectacular.    


Yeah, yeah.  It’s very impressive.  


Absolutely, and the P&G guy, a keynote this morning, basically head of market research. Consumer insights, not basically, literally.  And Gayle, of course, leading up there. And some really good lineups later today. We’ve got Google; that’s another major name brand, anyway.  Good. Well, if anyone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


They can just email


And that’s spelled?


N-I-H-A-L @


Good, great.  Thanks for being on the show.


Thank you, Jamin.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Maryana Stepanova – Borderless Access

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Maryana Stepanova, Director of Business Development at Borderless Access.

Contact Maryana Online:


Borderless Access


Maryana is a vet of MRMW.  This is the second time that’s she attended the show.  She had a great time as did I. And we talked about some of the benefits of MRMW in that it’s a very intimate environment.  She also, of course, talked about Borderless Access., her company, how they’ve been growing as a full-service market research firm but then also having a proprietary panel that has a unique “Invite-only” and validation on social media approach, ensuring high quality in their sample.  Hope you enjoy this episode.


My guest today is Maryana.  Maryana?


That’s correct.


Maryana, Borderless Access.  What do you think about MRMW?


I think it’s a great conference.  It’s actually my second year here.  It’s very private; it’s very intimate.  You get to actually have a lot of one-on-one human interactions with people instead of running around and going from session to session.  So I’m a fan. And it’s a beautiful hotel.


It is.  Have you seen The Shining?  It totally is the…  I’m going to post this picture along with this episode just so everybody else has the context.  But like…


I mean the speakers….


The speakers have been amazing.


Have to feel really famous.    


[laughs]  Look at this hallway.


It’s quite a stage.  Yes, wow, mmhm…


Right, I mean that’s like the REDRUM at the end of the…   Right, so, ah.  Love the hotel.  The venue’s great.  I actually really like how the exhibit hall is connected to the auditorium or the speaking area ‘cause that feels like, in the way it has been structured, it feels like there’s no bad spot on the floor, which is nice.


I agree.  It’s beautiful.


So, you guys spoke yesterday.  Tell us a little bit about what your company does and the talk.


So, we are a full-service market research consultancy.  We are most famous for being kind of the pioneers for emerging markets.  We have now built over 34 proprietary panels globally; obviously, started out internationally and now slowly making our way back to Europe, Key West, and Canada.  We do something as small as your traditional quantitative, qualitative research to much bigger, larger things from full-service aspect like designing a questionnaire, toying around with different concepts, full analysis.  We also have created different technologies to support the market research we’re already doing so that it really complements the work.


So, you’re a full-service market research company.  In conjunction, you have a proprietary panel that you’ve built, and that’s in quite a few countries.   


Yeah, 34 countries and they’re all from the ground up, if you will, “invite-only”.  You cannot just simply go in and sign up. You have to be invited; it’s social media verification, the whole nine yards.   


Yeah, for sure.  


We take it very seriously.  That’s our baby.


Yeah, no kidding, huh.  It’s interesting how access to consumers is becoming more and more of a barrier, especially in light of privacy changes.  


That’s correct, especially in Europe.  It’s more stringent. Or when you talk about health care research, it’s really changing.  


Yeah, for sure.  Health care is actually a whole other can of worms.  Even in the U.S. specifically, it’s just crazy how it’s getting locked down.  Feels like there’s… And at the same time, there’s this wealth of data on…  The New York Times this morning, they have an opinion piece centered around privacy.  The context is really interesting for market research because so much of what people are sharing with us is self-reported but, like you said, social connection.  So there a lot of behavioral and transactional data we could tether to that. Is that something you guys are doing? Incorporating outside or auxiliary data into the self-reported data?


Not to my knowledge.  I’m sure they’re probably looking into that.  But the company is so large and we’re so global, international.  It’s probably a whole separate team that’s working on other type of magic and how to stay ahead of times, if you will.  


How long has Borderless Access been around?  


We’ve been around for ten years.  


Oh, gosh.  So a ton of growth in ten years.  


Exactly, they’re really proud of that.


They should be.  [laughs]


Mmhm.  We had a big celebration back in October.  


Yeah, that’s huge.  How many employees?


Oh, my goodness.  Has to be over at least 200.


So, quite a few.


It’s quite a few.  We have international offices.  So, I’m based out of California.  We have an office now in Romania. The operations are in Bangalore, India; we have a presence in APAC, South Africa.  So, it’s amazing.


What do you see as the fastest growing market right now?


I would say the markets that don’t have generally a lot of presence.  I’m talking about like the Middle East, Africa; I see a lot of movement from the Netherlands; so, a lot of like different European countries that, normally, are not included in the research where have less population and harder to recruit into those panels.  Yeah, it’s been interesting.


What does an ideal customer look like for Borderless Access?  Is it on the brand? Is it an agency? It is…yeah.


I think an ideal customer for us is someone that mostly looks for a consultant.  So, we really try to build long-term relationships, and we really try to consult you and hand-hold you along way.  So, for us, it’s not just providing a panel or providing sample. Or, “Here’s your project manager; let’s go in field.”  It’s so much more. We try to provide our expertise because all of us come from different backgrounds and different knowledge.  So, I think we’re really proud of that, you know, what we can bring to the table.


Yeah, that’s really cool, really cool.  So full-service market research, but yet you have breadth of…  So, you’re not really using third-part sample, are you? You’re using your own proprietary panel sample for your projects.


Yeah, for the most part, it’s proprietary, but, just like a lot of players in the market, we all work together.  We capitalize on our strength. So, we have worked with a lot of different companies in this room and have great relationships.  So it’s kind of like, “Help you and you help me.”


Got it, perfect.  So, your favorite speaker.  Any ideas? Besides, of course, Borderless Access.


I actually have not had a chance to sit on the sessions.  I’m so ashamed, but it’s on my agenda today.


The good news is they’re going to be recorded; they’ve been on video, and I think they’re going to be releasing them in two weeks.  So, my recommendation, is at a minimum, watch the FourSquare presentation. I haven’t seen all them either, by the way, by a long shot.  But the Black Swan, Oh, my gosh, that one was fantastic. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Maryana, Borderless Access, thanks so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.  


Thank you, thank you.  This was a lot of fun. I appreciate it.  [laughs]

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Ludovic Depoortere – Haystack Research Consulting

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Ludovic Depoortere, Founder and Executive Chairman of Haystack Research Consulting.

Contact Ludovic Online:


Haystack Research Consulting


Ludovic at Haystack.  This is one of my favorite presentations that I’ve ever seen in my entire career, by the way.  I can’t recommend it enough. He passed out chocolate to the entire audience and had us eat it based on different stimuli such as changing music.  And that chocolate actually wound up tasting different based on the music which impacted the mood of the listeners. So, it’s a really cool concept.  In his business, they focus on multi-sensory research, consultancy, implicit, emotive, contextual research. It’s basically how you can drive positive business and decisions that have good impact for customers, connecting their emotions to your deliverables.  I hope you find a lot of value in this episode.


What we mainly do is we try to help companies innovate in sensory space.  So we support companies in innovating by using multiple senses, like combining fragrance with taste to have a great customer experience because that is what is today, more than, very important.


Yeah, for sure.  So, you’re dealing with actual like physical products.  


Yes, physical products, but we can also talk about an app development where you say, “OK, let’s focus at the design of the app.”  Make the design better, but, if possible, try to use other colors or use other senses like have a tactile property. Later on, when we can add virtual reality, maybe one day we will also be able to have a fragrance connected to that.  


Oh, that’s interesting.


Help doing that type of thinking.


Have you actually done anything and played with around with VR, AR, anything along those lines?


Absolutely.  We work for real estate and there we can check whether…  what is the fit between a specific fragrance and the type of atmosphere you want in your real estate project.  


Oh, that’s fascinating.    


Like hotels are using that; co-working spaces also use that.  So, that’s how we apply that and we have VR equipment to project that environment.  Then we have capsules that we can have a fragrance in the room to match with that.


That’s super interesting.  Do you see that as a space that’s going to be expanding in the near future?  


Oh, yeah, absolutely.  Because it’s one of the big disadvantages of sensory research is that you have to rely on center location testing, and it’s very physical.  But more and more with digitized, we also try to bring that in. And I think VR is the perfect solution to that.           


That’s fascinating.  Great. So, is this your first time to MRMW?


Yes, indeed it is.


What do you think?


Yeah, I like it.  I like the fact that it’s not small; it’s big enough.  And it’s very open and very easy to talk to people. I really like that.  And it’s great. Like the room is fantastic.


Yeah, it really is.


The hotel is great.


One of the speakers said it reminds them a little bit of The Shining.  I think so too.  [laughter] I can see Jack Nicholson just like bop me out with an axe, which would be really funny if someone snuck up behind Dan Foreman.     


Let’s do that tomorrow.  


OK, I think that would be a great.  Got to figure out how I can get a rubber axe just in case.  It’d be my luck. The day that someone…anyways. Now, I took a dark turn.  So, tomorrow… Do you have a specific customer story that you’d like to highlight?


Tomorrow, what I’m going to do tomorrow is actually do some experiments with the audience.  Like I will show that the taste of a product is different when you have matching music with that.  So I have special music that I’m matching with Belgian chocolate. So, that’s one thing. And I will show how the dental company is also using that framework to actually do innovation.  But my key point is “Make Sensory Great Again.” Sensory is considered old-fashioned because it’s not easy to digitize it. I will show how digital tools can actually enhance and make sensory great.  With the dental company and also with another case study, I’ll actually show how we bring emotion in that and how we actually go from a classical sensory test (CLT test) and enhance that with an IHUT system where we tap into emotions and need states and also link to Instagram and Facebook profiles so that we can actually not only map the profile of product taste-wise but also map it in emotions and lifestyles and that type of stuff.     


I love the connectivity there that everyone making right now to the importance of driving overall emotion inside of the customer relationship, which I think, man, that is just so refreshing.  All about that connection.


The big brands we’re working for, they’re all suffering.  Also, today it was mentioned like PepsiCo and see what happened to companies like Kraft-Heinz.  They’re losing billions of value; so, they should really put the consumer first again. And I think for research, that’s just great news, but we have to be very agile, make sure that we develop the tools to make that happen.  And I’m very happy today again that I see that it is happening. So it’s great.


Ludovic, thanks so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  Oh, by the way, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


If you go to our website,, and there you’ll find us.


Alright, perfect.  And I’ll include that information in the show notes, everybody, as well, as well as a direct link to whomever you’d want them to talk to.  Great, well, thanks for joining me, my friend.


Thanks for having me.


Yeah, a pleasure.



MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Justin Coates – Eastman Chemical Company

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Justin Coates, Consumer Insights Leader at Eastman Chemical Company.

Contact Justin Online:


Eastman Chemical Company


In this interview with Justin Coates of Eastman Chemical Company, he talks about some of the challenges of Eastman in bringing in the insights function to their everyday work flows and decision-making processes.  This is a really interesting subject, and hope you dive deep into it. It’s a short episode, but it’s packed full of what, I think, is one of the more important themes inside of market research. We saw with the acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP of $8 billion and insane multiplier, but I actually believe that we are at the beginning of this J-curve of almost all successful companies ultimately investing in consumer insights and that they will play a key role in the decision-making processes.  And, as that takes hold inside of the companies, not just new companies, but established firms like Eastman, over 100 years old, are going to be looking at employing whether it’s surveys or qualitative or whatever inside their everyday decision-making processes, which, again, is all greenfield opportunity for us. Enjoy.


Justin Coates, Eastman Chemical Company, right?  Been around a long, long time.


Yes, almost a 100 years.  


That’s insane.  Congratulations.  You’ve done a great job over the last 100 years.  You don’t look it.


Thank you.  I know. I look great for a 100.  A lot of Botox.


[laughter]  It’s like that Star Trek episode.  Anyway, so, you gave the last speech today, which is always the toughest, by the way.


It is the toughest.  Everyone wants to go, and there are free drinks, I hear.


I’ve heard that too.


We’re here doing this, but this still…  Yeah, that’s always a rough spot.


Yeah, no kidding.  So, maybe just give our listeners a quick overview of what you’ve talked about.    


Sure.  So, essentially, I’ve been doing consumer research for 13-14 years mostly in the textile industry but came to Eastman to kind of build a consumer research function for a chemical company that doesn’t sell to consumers but needs to understand what they want, where their needs are to really create products and materials that will eventually make their way to consumers.  So, my journey over the last two years is building buy-in within the company, within different businesses that this stuff matters, and they need to invest in it, and invest in my area so we can kind of help them solve their business problems and do front-end innovation and really reposition ourselves in front of our customers.


So, relatively new division inside of Eastman.  Is that correct?


Yes, so, it’s within corporate innovation but…  Yes, this is brand-new, started with me.


I was just going to ask.  So, who brought you in?


So, I had a great first boss, Glenda Eilo.  She was the director of corporate innovation, and I was recruited for something completely different.  Came there and did a presentation on what I was doing at Cotton Incorporated. And they’re like, “We don’t want you for this job.  We want you to do what you’re doing here.” So, she went and talked to her CTO and our VP at the time, and they created a position for me almost overnight.


Oh, that’s awesome.  That’s amazing.


That was really very impressive.


Are you a team of one or do you have…?


Right now, a team of one.  I do have some folks that donate some of their time to me for different projects, which I definitely appreciate.  But certainly, looking to expand.   


So, in that context, are you looking at…  Like you have to leverage partnerships to give stuff done, right?


Right, exactly.  Essentially, how it’s set up is Eastman has a number of different businesses.  So, it might be textiles; it might be plastics; it might be tires, care chemicals.  And so, I work with those different groups and kind of try to understand what their needs might be and develop kind of a research design methodology that could help fill those needs with consumer research, whether it’s qual, quant, whatever they might need, and convince them to invest it in.  So they invest in the project, and then they get my time to help them use the insights to help their internal work, internal strategy but also help go directly to their customers and really position us as a strategic thought partner with them.


The company that I started Decipher, we’re on the west coast.  Most of my initial customer base was out of the Silicon Valley, so predominantly in the tech like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  And so, those large organizations are going through a very different sort of pain point, which is their constituents inside of the corporation are using research autonomously, which is causing a little bit of confusion in some cases. Just ‘cause you can do a survey doesn’t make you a researcher.


It doesn’t?  Well then, I’m out, I guess.         


Dang it!  Me too. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting.  I think that they would look at you in sort of an aspirational position where the organization is actually bending towards you for that consumer insight.


Yeah, it’s been a great ride.  Of course, there are certain businesses where it’s not necessary, but in certain businesses, we’ve gotten a lot of traction.  I’ve gotten in front of a lot of their customers, have impacted sales, which is important. If you’ve heard some of the other talks today is what are the metrics you use to show your value?  And that’s how you’re being incorporated into market strategies, how you’re impacting sales growth, how you’re getting in front of other customers, other constituencies, and kind of changing the conversation.


Kristi Zuhlke, she’s a previous Proctor & Gamble.  She started a company called KnowledgeHound, which is like a knowledge management platform, kind of like Google for insights at the corporate level.  And she had this great, great saying: “Every project has to have an ROI.” So, research has to have an ROI. If it doesn’t have an ROI, don’t do the project.  


Exactly, and that’s where…   They were talking about zero-based budgeting.  I am zero-base budget. [laughter] So I have to prove “This is what you’re going to get out of this project.”  Can’t always predict what will happen, and that’s also where you have to have great business partners who can help take it forward for you.  Accolades for the research and also the people that can champion that within the company ‘cause it’s a large, complex organization. There’s lots of players and influencers; you got to be able to navigate that.     


That’s the other part of it that, I think, is really interesting that you’ve identified; that is, the importance of researchers to have agency inside of their organizations.  And that’s something that has to be intentionally cultivated. The steamroller approach just doesn’t…


It doesn’t really work.


Not so much.


It might work once, but after that, you’re going to get steamrolled.  [laughter] The most important thing when I started Eastman, I had a good mentor who said, “Build your network.  Whatever you do, build your network. Find your people.” And that has been excellent advice.


Yeah, power of network.  There you go. MRMW – of course, you’re client side and speaker.  What do you think about the show so far?


I think it’s great.  This is my first time here.  So, I’ve done other conferences before.  I like how this is very focused on content.  For me, I love to hear the client-side stories, what other researchers are doing, and how they’re going about it.  That’s most fulfilling for me, but there were some agency presentations that were pretty good. Like I need to give these guys a call.  


For sure.  FourSquare, I thought, was super interesting.


FourSquare was interesting.  I think Black Swan was really cool.


I’ve never heard of them.  Well, I have heard of them, but not like that.


They have an interesting business model I want to learn more about.


Yeah, for sure.  Is there any specific unmet needs that you have?  That you’re like, “Gosh, I wish somebody could crack this nut for me.”


I think for us we’re still looking at trying to really dive deeper into the user journey.  And I know how to get there, but getting the organizational line on how to do that is not always happening.  But we’re creating materials that go into a product that consumers are using, and sometimes the performance may be as good, better, or underperforming.  And we need to know that because, if we’re really going to be a specialty-materials company, when we go to a PNG, a Starbucks, a Target, whoever we’re going to, we really need to show them how our material performs, give them that user-journey experience, kind of explain to them how they could potentially market it – kind of all on a silver platter – for them to adopt it.  So, that’s the one element that I don’t think we’ve really gone into yet. We can; it’s just that we haven’t done it yet.


Yeah, yeah, of course.  That’s an interesting point of view.  So, my guest today has been Justin with Eastman.  Thank you so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Thank you for having me.  


Awesome.  Have a great day.


You too.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Jill Bishop – Multilingual Connections

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Jill Bishop, Founder and CEO of Multilingual Connections.

Contact Jill Online:


Multilingual Connections


Jill Bishop, Multilingual Connections, I had the pleasure of getting to know her over the several days we were at MRMW as she was located right by where I was doing the live podcasts.  Tremendous energy, in-depth understanding of translation, transcription, and just a global point of view, which adds a lot of value. You know language is set in context, and context is critical for translation and transcription.  I really hope that you enjoy this episode. She also talks a little bit about technology and how she’s streamlining processes. As always, you can find her information in the show notes.


My guest today is Jill Bishop; Multilanguage Connections is the name of the company.  She is the founder. Jill, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.


Thanks.  Yeah, Multilingual Connections.


Did I say it wrong?


Everybody does.  


Dang it!  Multilingual Connections.  I apologize.


That’s OK. That’s OK.      


So, tell me a little bit about what you guys do.   


Yeah, sure.  We are a translation and transcription agency.  We help organizations understand and engage their multilingual speakers.  That could be local, national, or international. We work in about 75 different languages.  So, we do translations of surveys, legal contracts, discussion guides, audio and video transcription, voiceover, and subtitling.  


Very fun.      


It is very fun.       


My first experience was in 1996 with a transcription company.  And it was probably one of the biggest pieces of value I’ve ever had to qualitative research.  So, I did this series of focus groups. We had them transcribed, which was at significant added cost; we’re pretty lean budget-wise.  But, man, talk about the best utilization of funds for pulling out quotes and discoverability.


Absolutely.  Rather than you spending your valuable time doing something that you’re only qualified to do, send those easy tasks out to somebody else so that you can focus.  


Yeah, that’s awesome.  So, how long have you been doing it?  


14 years.  


So a little while.  


Yeah, a little while.    


How did you get into it?


I’m a linguistic anthropologist.  And I did my doctoral research; I had about 240 hours of research on a number of different languages.  I didn’t know that there were transcription agencies to help out. But lots of steps and diversions along the way, I wound up doing user research for a company in Chicago.  Worked for Chipotle in charge of language and culture programs and then a few years later started my business originally to provide English and Spanish training for the workplace and then later translations.  The last couple years we’ve been doing more and more research work.


You know the translation space and the transcription space in market research is, I think, currently still underserved.  So there are a lot of vendors; it does feel like it’s a rising tide. What’s happening is qualitative is happening at scale now, and it’s creating a lot of opportunity for transcription and translation.  I think companies like yours are very exciting to watch from a growth potential.


Well, thank you.  I think we are.


So, MRMW.  We’re happily positioned by the food line.  I’m sorry about the noise.


Lots of hungry folks.  [laughter]


Hopefully, all of you that are tuning in can hear us.  We’re going to have to project a little bit more than normal.




What is your favorite project?


My favorite project.  Oh, my goodness, that’s so hard to decide.  So, I don’t do the research myself, and I also don’t do the transcription myself at this point.


You’re running a business.


I’m running a business.  So I have to hear little bits and pieces.  I love hearing that we’re doing projects on fast food preferences in France or more academic work of Syrian refugees who’ve settle in Jordan.  And their understanding of home, and everything in between.




So there’s really no one favorite but I love knowing that I’m helping support an area that I’m really passionate about, and it kind of brought me back to my roots.    


So, Jill, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


They would go to Multilingual or send an email to  


That’s  We’ll include that information in the show notes.  Jill, thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.       


Alright.  Thanks so much.  I appreciate it.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Guy White – Catalyx

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Guy White, CEO & Founder of Catalyx.

Contact Guy Online:




This interview is with Guy White of Catalyx.  He is the founder of this company. You are really going to enjoy listening how an internal research at Proctor & Gamble felt a tremendous amount of pain specific-use case and then evolved that evolved that into his own startup.  Earlier day trials and tribulations – how he overcame them to ultimately bring to market an ultimately very successful and growing, thriving business. They sit right in the middle of the innovation process. Check him out. You can find information on the show notes.  Hope you enjoy this episode.


Guy, Catalyx, tell me a little bit about your business.  


So, Catalyx is an insight innovation agency.  Our aim is relentless pursuit of getting insight into businesses in such a way that it is going to build brands and make people buy more product.  I’m actually not a researcher; I’m a marketer. I’m an ex-Proctor marketer. And I set Catalyx up because I was actually frustrated that you couldn’t access consumers as I felt I needed to from the partners that we were working with in such a way that I would have recommendations to build the business.  And we thought we could do it better. So that’s kind of how we started.


That’s super interesting.  I think it’s fascinating that you started the business…  You started the business?




You started the business out of the context of your own pain.


Yeah, exactly.


Which is a completely unique…  I say, “Completely unique.” It’s not really completely unique, but in our industry, usually what I see happen is you have technology or a solution that’s looking for a problem.




Which is kind of to the other point, which is…  I think Gayle made it this morning if you heard that interview, sorry, talk about how you need to be in love with the pain, not the solution.  


Right, absolutely.  I saw that. I agree.  


Talk to me a little bit about…  When did you start the business?


So, first client was 2013.         


Wow, congratulations.  Tell me about that first project.          


The first project was crazy.  So, the first project, I was actually moderating an innovation conference in France in English in front of a French-only conference.    


[laughs]  Heavy lift, isn’t it?


I tell you what at the start you take what you can get.  So…


That is a multi-layered…


Right, yeah.  


Just you and…


500,000 French business owners wanting to learn a little bit about innovation.  No clue about what I was talking about.




But the first proper project I would say was…  We used to do a ton of insight from social listening back in kind of 2013 when people really didn’t know what social listening was and how to use it.  And we said, “Well, the trouble is with the platforms; you can’t get insight from a platform. You can get data but not insights.” So we developed a methodology to be able to convert what people were saying online into kind of golden nuggets that people could use.  And we did that for a few years as we were building up kind of our crowdsourcing capabilities as well. Yea, so that was kind of the first stuff we did. And that lead onto about five or six other projects with the same client all around how do people shop for hair care online, for instance.  What do men feel about shaving? Really, really, not just the process, but why do they shave? And that kind of stuff.


So, talk to me a little bit about what engagement looks like.  What are the deliverables? And what kind of time frame is around that?  


So, it really depends what you’re trying to do.  


What is like a sweet spot for you guys?     


So, we work at that stage from one sheet of paper through to “I’ve got a concept or prototype or a stimulus that I’m going to take through to a big contest.”  So, our whole aim is to embed ourselves into that creative development process or product development process. So we do a lot of insight discovery work. So that might be building a crowd of your target audience in whatever country you’re looking to do and then working with them over a week or so to really find what makes them tick.  So that end-to-end would be about three weeks from setup – live – close. Then we do a lot of stuff around, you know… “I’ve got ten ideas. How do I make them better and which ones should I be pursuing and how should I bring that to life in a consumer context?” I guess they’re kind of the two big…


Your ideal customer looks like what?  


Ideal customer:  consumer-facing business, probably product or manufacturer normally.  So SMCG, with work with pharma medical device, financial. Either has a problem they want to solve.  And they believe or they think we can help by embedding that consumer into that problem or is in a mode of discovery, let’s say, and wants to just have a consumer closer.  I think we love working with people that kind of understand the consumer and understand the power of the consumer because then you work as a partner as opposed to trying to educate on why this is really important and why you can build better products if you embed your consumer.  So that’s kind of who we like to work with, I’d say.


So, you’re a relatively new father and congratulations on that 11-month old.


Thank you very much.


How’s sleeping going?  


Hit or miss, I would say.  She’s just started sleeping through the night.  So, running a business with a new daughter is quite intense.


Hopefully, you have a good team.  I’m sure you do.


We have a fantastic team, absolutely.  And I couldn’t do it without them, absolutely.   


MRMW, is this your first year?


So, I’ve done MRMW Berlin.  It’s now in Amsterdam, I think.  But last year it was in Berlin. My first one here.  


Got it.  What do you think?


I really like MRMW, I have to say.  So, last year we did a kind of… We went to every conference that we could get our hands on and wanted to see what works and what didn’t.  And we’ve come back to MRMW. You see what I mean.


Point taken.    


Yeah, I really like it.  I like its size. I like that at the end of two days, kind of everyone’s met everyone.  And it’s really friendly.


Actually, they uniquely create these opportunities for connection in a very organic way as opposed to a lot of other events.  They try to accommodate that, but it feels very forced and doesn’t seem to come across as genuine. Somehow, maybe you’re right; maybe it’s the magic of the 200 and some odd attendees here.  So, the size of it could work. I don’t know what it is? But it is a super friendly group.


I completely agree.  I think there’s a really nice mix of agencies on the client side.  And, yeah, I think everyone is just super interested in what everyone else is doing.


And if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


So, email or you can drop us a note on our website: and me or someone else will definitely jump on that and respond.    


And, as always, we’ll include that on the show notes.  Thanks so much, Guy, for joining me today. It’s been an honor having you on the podcast.


Not a problem. Thank you so much for having me.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Gus Valen – Curator Video

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Gus Valen, CEO of Curator Video.

Contact Gus Online:


Curator Video


Gus Valen, Curator Video, MRMW, on the floor:  It was really neat getting to know them. I had not heard of that company before.  Very interesting value prop. Their information is in the show notes. One of the things I wanted to highlight is how PII is playing a role in video.  Gus has a really interesting point of view. And then in addition, we talk about “stated” versus “observed” behavior and how brands are leaning more and more on observed behaviors and incorporating that into self-reported diagnostic questions.  Enjoy!


Happy Market Research live at MRMW.  My guest today is Gus, CEO of Curator Video.  




How are you?  


I’m doing great.   


Good.  What do you think about the show so far?


It’s a good show.  So, I’m meeting lots of people and learning a lot.


Yeah, good.  So, any highlights?


Well, I mean for me I think just really understand that research is now more of a continuous process than an event.  I think is probably the big takeaway for me.


Yeah, that’s actually such an interesting point.  I know you’re exhibiting. Have you been able to attend any of the sessions?


Yes, a few.       


OK, cool.  So, one of the themes I heard yesterday, Day 1, was this kind of movement away from linear consumer journey to a more abstract kind of touching the customer on wherever it is that they are on the continuum of driving really emotional connections to the brand as opposed to more of a strict funnel approach.  At least, that’s how I was processing it.


Sure, interesting.


Yeah, yeah.  To your point though, about it being a journey, the brands are kind of understanding that.


Right, right.


Then technology is interesting because it’s starting to map more of that journey.  Did you see the FourSquare presentation?


Yes, I did, yeah.


What did you think about that?


Yeah, I think it’s amazing that… the way that they can even look at the floor you’re on by the barometric pressure.  [laughter] It’s kind of crazy.   


I know.


Think about what like what actually we can learn about people.


It’s amazing.  Yeah, absolutely amazing that…anyway.  That was… But then also literally like mapping.  This is what I think is so interesting, and I can’t wait to dive into Curator Video, is that companies have operated…  It used to be the case that brands would say… were defined by who they said they were. And now, through social media and the internet, it’s become brands are who the customer says they are.  They’ve changed their narrative to be more like segmentation-specific. So, in other words, you know… You know I’m 48 years old; so, I’m in some like segmentation analysis for every brand, right?  And they have like some blanketed way of approaching me, but now what’s happening is they’re saying, “No, that’s still not good enough. We need to target Jamin as a specific human being.” So, it’s like getting more and more niche even down to the individual.           


I think even the screening is amazing because before we’d say, “Do you like music?”  “Do you like sports?” whatever it is that we’re going after and we’d say, “Yes” or No,” right?  And then we’d take that as a fact. And now we’re not asking; we’re actually watching your behavior; we’re watching what you write and actually knowing what you do.  So, even before you know you’re being screened in, the market is screening you in. I think, fundamentally, you know the idea of actually being able to watch behavior versus listen to words is really, really critical.  That’s one of the reasons that I got involved with Curator Video is really to look at… What are really better ways to do research?


Yeah, that’s a perfect segue into Curator Video.  So, talk to me a little bit about the business.     


Sure, so Curator Video basically is an end-to-end platform for qualitative video research where you can watch the video from anywhere that you have Wi-Fi or cell service and all the way through to editing the video with transcription that’s synched up that you can search and easily make clips or movies.  It’s built for the researcher and the non-video editor to make videos.


So, is it a little bit like YouTube?


It is a lot like YouTube in the sense of very easy to make videos, but it’s built on a secure platform that only the researchers and clients can get in.  It’s built for the quality that major companies want from a security and a GDPR basis.


Now, face is part of IP now, right?




Or PI?  Sorry, PII.  Have you then changed your data-handling protocols to accommodate HIPAA and PII and that sort of stuff?  


Sure, I think…  I mean I think there’s always this challenge between how conservative you are with Personally Identifiable Information and then what insight is.  And so, really, I think that most platforms like ours are really built to allow flexibility for what your rules are. There are rules that allow you with permission to actually use Personal Identifiable Information.  So I think what we can do is just follow information all the way down to taking a video and then turning it into just an audio file or just a transcript that’s filed away. So we really can work any way that you want to work.    


So, tell me like what is a typical engagement look like with Curator Video?


Sure, thank you.  Thanks for asking.  Really for us, it starts with a field operation.  So, we work typically with a moderator, the researcher.  We work with the DIY client, company who’s going out in the field and they’re interviewing a consumer or customer.  So, that can be done in an in-home; that can be done in a shop-along; that can be done on an intercept. Because we give you the device and that includes self-service, you can pretty much start to record from anywhere.    


That’s amazing.  So what is the device?  


The device is our iPad or iPhone, and really, we work with many devices.  But what we find is the simpler, the better, the easier ‘cause, again, we’re working with the non-technical researcher partner who just wants to do research but wants to capture video easily.


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense actually.  I don’t like I’ve seen anybody else in this space offer up a hardware as part of the solution.    


Correct.  The reason that we do that is that, again, the researcher doesn’t want to worry about, “Does my device have enough battery?”  “Do I have enough space?” or whatever else; so, we just make it super simple. We ship you the device; it’s all included in the price.  You just put it in the box and ship it back when you’re done. And then your video’s already cloud-recorded.


Ah, that’s awesome.  You don’t have to do anything.


Right. I don’t know if you know how long it takes to upload an hour of video.  


I do, unfortunately.


I know you do.  [laughter] But it takes about an hour, right?  So, with our device, there is no upload; it’s already there.  


That’s remarkable.


And so that’s what extremely different.  And then on the back-end, we have an easy set of simple tools to make clips instantly.   So you can search the video and the transcription, which is synched there. You can select words, and it creates clips, like a sentence that you want and you’re done.  So, what used to take eight hours, takes for us about 45 minutes.


Wow, that’s a huge win.  


So, as the researcher, if you think about your time and what it’s worth, that’s a huge savings.  And then, there’s a lot of collaboration tools that allow, if you’re out in the field, someone else can be watching and tagging and editing as you go.


So, it has a real time viewing option?


Yes, it does.


Oh, that’s pretty cool.  Do you have clients that will watch those interviews or is it pretty much limited to the researcher that’s doing the project?  


It’s really anyone that the client and the research team wants to allow in.  And what’s really nice in security-wise is that the only way that you can watch that is being invited from inside the system.  So, the large companies like that type of security.


Oh, they need it.  Yeah, absolutely. So much risk.  So, who is your ideal customer? What do they look like?  Are they inside of a brand? Are they inside of an agency?  What role are they facilitating?


They’re really the one that’s doing qualitative research that wants deep insight and really is just trying to find a better way to use video or use more video in a cost-effective way.  We’ve built it on a cloud-based system that is very streamlined and so it’s not expensive. I mean our goal is to allow every researcher, no matter skill level, no matter understanding of video, to be able to now add video to their client report in basically and hour versus days.  


Big difference.


Yeah, huge, huge.  And it’s really for the benefit of insight.  So then, in the back-end, to be able to search later, to be able, “Oh, I didn’t think about sustainability.  What did we find within these 14 in-homes or shop-alongs?” And you start searching “sustainability” or “green” or “competitive brands” or whatever that you may not have mined before.  To try to do that with a video that you have on your phone, is almost impossible. And then people are taking video; they’re uploading it to Dropbox; and then they’re downloading it to an editor; and then they’re uploading back.  Well, for us, just leave it in the Cloud and just edit it all there and be done with it.


Yeah, it’s nice ‘cause then you have a single source of truth as opposed to multiple PowerPoints that you need to try to locate which one was final, etc., etc.   


And for me, that’s very core.  As someone who has been in the research industry and the consulting industry, looking at truth is that I don’t want to just get a summary report.  I might want go back and in ten minutes just search the videos across all those. And I could never do that. Well, now with Curator, I can go in the space, and I can in literally 30 minutes just get a little more data, which would have taken me an hour to explain to someone to go find the video, to edit it, to send back to me a report that I might then have another question.  So, the idea of being able to delve into the data is huge.


We had a project I did…   (It’s actually one of my favorite projects of my whole career.) There was Amazon versus eBay.  This was years ago. Amazon was really on the rise at this particular point; eBay was trying to figure it out.  It moved from a book to something much bigger relatively quickly. And so, we interviewed 1,000 eBay users, 1,000 Amazon, and 1,000 both.  A bunch of analysis, math, all that kind of stuff… At the end of the presentation, in the survey we had a video open-end. This is before like Voxpopme and whatever was popular.  And we included some of the clips. That presentation made it up to the board, who sat through the video clips. And they actually said, “It’s the first time we’ve actually had voice of the customer in the boardroom.”


Makes sense, makes sense.


Which is interesting because it’s not true ‘cause they’ve seen all the MPS.  Every board meeting they’re talking about customer sat, math, research, marketing data, etc.  But they were able to connect it in such a way that they felt they actually understood the human aspect of the implications of the data.  It’s super powerful.


As you know, and me just working at Curator Video, the idea of video and the insight that it provides is amazing.  It’s just so much more powerful to present; I think it’s more engaging; I think people don’t fall asleep with your PowerPoints.  It’s everything that you need. And what we’re finding is that the researchers that are coming to us are saying, “Our clients are demanding video, and we’re not sure what to do.”  So we’re super happy to be in the industry, and we’re just here to help make video easy for you.


Gus, Curator Video.  If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


Go to  You can find us there. You can also reach me at


Of course, we’ll be including that information in the show notes.  Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Gus, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Jamin, thanks so much.  

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Courtney Akel – Georgia-Pacific

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Courtney Akel, Associate Manager of Consumer Insight at Georgia-Pacific.

Contact Courtney Online:




Live at MRMW on the show floor, I have the honor of speaking with Courtney Akel, Georgia Pacific, a company all of us have heard from.  As an internal insights professional, she has seen a lot of transitions over the last few years in really two ways: one is the role of partnerships with her agency relationships, and then the  other is centric to just staying current on tools and systems and processes and technologies so that she’s operating with the sharpest tools or the best tools inside of her toolbox to deliver consistent insights for Georgia Pacific.  Hope you enjoy.


Courtney Akel, Georgia Pacific.  Everybody’s heard of Georgia Pacific.  How are you?


I’m good.  How are you?


Good.  MRMW is coming to a close, I think.  What do you think about the show?


It’s been a great event.  There’s been a lot talk on Big Data, which has been really interesting to me, being in the quant side of the industry.  And I’m learning a lot.


Oh, yeah.  What is your biggest takeaway so far?


My biggest takeaway is that primary research isn’t dying.  So that’s nice job security and that what I need to do to complement my skill sets currently is to do R.   


Oh, interesting.  So you’re thinking like a Python/R path for you?   


Yeah, yeah, I think I’m going to learn to start coding, to do more like visual things with my research and with the data.


Are you thinking about Code Academy?  How are you going to go through that journey?


Huh, no, I’m going to go through a data camp.         


Oh, data camp, yeah, yeah.  


Yeah, going through data camp.  They have free courses. I just downloaded the app on my phone.  Learning that R code. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck. [laughter]


It’s no joke.  It’s no joke. I mean I think you’ll pick it up fast.  Have you done any programming in the past?


Yeah, so I can write SPSS and Syntax.


Got it.  So you’re familiar already.


Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with like coding, but it’s just like a new language to learn.  They’re all slightly different. Like I’m familiar with Java Script. And so, they’re all like slightly different, but I found that, if you understand coding, you could just pick it up.   


Totally.  Like you said – correctly so – I mean once you learn a second language, the third is a little bit easier.


I think it’s easier for me to learn code than it is like a foreign language.  [laughter]  


I would agree with you on that point, by the way.


Because I like can’t roll my r’s.  I’ve always struggled with foreign languages.  So maybe like…


The typing part would be fine.  


Maybe typing is my way to go.  


I get it, I get it.  So, how did you wind up in market research?


So, I graduated from college and with a degree in marketing.  I did an internship at an ad agency and thought I was going to take like the traditional marketing route of working at an ad agency when I graduated.  I got there and realized that they don’t do any analysis to support the ads that they’re pushing out into the world, I guess like in 2011. Hopefully, they do that more of that now.  So I knew I wanted to get into analytics, and then I just landed an internship at Market Strategies International on the vendor side. So, I was there for four years. So, I ran like T-Mobile’s brand checker and did Starbucks attitudes and usage studies.  I got some pretty cool experiences when I was there.


So, why did you jump over to the brand side, the light side?


I was ready for a break of like client service life.  I can be really draining. You work long hours and you’re, you know, always…


Always on?


Yeah, always on.  So, the client side has been a really nice change.  And I also wanted to experience what it’s like to see how the research is being used and see it actually come to life versus just passing it over and then it going into a dark space.  


So, Georgia Pacific.  How big of a marketing research department?


So, we’re pretty small actually.  We only have like 14 researchers.


That’s pretty big.  In some contexts, that’s pretty big.


Oh, OK.  Well, I guess my context being in Cincinnati has been…


Proctor & Gamble is a little different.


Proctor & Gamble where they have like 1200.  [laughter]


Quite … anyway, yes.


Yes, yes, so.  We are 14, mostly on the categories.  And then I work with another colleague cross-category.  So we do all the float of the work, and we do like all the DIY research for us.    


So, DIY.  You use partners, of course, to do research.    




I forget which speaker was talking about that yesterday.  They were from Proctor & Gamble. There were two, and they were talking about how the partnerships are changing in terms of what you need as a brand from your vendors is changing.   


Yeah, definitely.


Would you be able to put words to that?  How has it been changing?


Yeah, for me personally, like I come to these conferences and I interact with these vendors.  And a lot of it’s like, “If I collect the data, can I send you the data set and you do the text analysis for me?”  So I’m really looking for what they can do after the data is collected for me and how we can partner in that.


Got it.  So what you’re doing is basically…  It sounds like you’re using DIY solutions to do a lot of the heavy lifting internally of the data collection.  But then when it gets down past post-processing into the analytics and implications, there’s a big opportunity for partnership.  


Yeah, totally.  I mean… ‘cause when we process the surveys in-house, it’s quicker.  We have more knowledge of our needs and our categories. And so, it just takes a lot of the back and forth out of the mix when we can just write the survey ourselves.    


So, what platform are you using on your…?  First of all, give me the landscape. What are you using tool-wise?  What’s in the toolbox?   


I’m using Qualtrics, and then we use Conjointly for conjoints.  I use Q Research for analysis and then just a variety of different sample providers that I’m using.  


Got it.  Do you have a top three sample provider list?


So, we’ve been working with ResearchNow, Dynata and then Lucid has been really great.  Then I think we’re going to potentially explore one of the social media sample providers to see how our data is different, if it is different.  


Got it.  Did you hear Tia’s talk today?




What did you think about that?  For those that don’t know, she spoke… She’s the group scientist for Proctor & Gamble, about a 30-year veteran in the space.  And her subject was the material decreasing quality in the sample space and the cost that’s happening at the brand level.


Makes me nervous.  [laughs] That’s my initial reaction but, obviously, things I’ve been aware of for a while now.  But I do think it’s a good reminder to always change your methods to catch survey bots whether it’s you know…  I really liked her approach of asking the age question at the front and then the age question at the end to see if their answers match up.  And if they don’t, then screen them out.


Yeah, yeah, that’s a really interesting point of view.  There is some error that you’re always going to get no matter who it is who takes the survey.  And you got to be just aware of that happening. And the other thing that I think is really important is… and I’ll get you an actual, tangible example.  A friend of mine does a couple of different screening questions; he rotates them out all the time in his surveys. One of them was: “What is 1 + 1 + 4?” And it was a close-ended question, 6 answer choices.  Forty percent got it right, 6 being the correct answer. And to the question, “What is your favorite color?” – open-ended question. Number 1 answer choice: “I really like that.” Number 2 is “ASDF.” So, it was interesting that…  He’s seeing this as a big… Now I’m not suggesting that that’s categorically the case in the space. I’m now like the guy that’s trying to light the fires everywhere, but from his vantage point and context, that one study with a blended sample approach, there was, from his perspective, some potentially very material issues with the data.  Anyway, I do think it’s something that we’ve talked a lot about for my career 26 years in the space, and I have a feeling that we’ll be talking about it a lot longer.


Yeah, definitely.


So, why did you decide to go in-house, use DIY tools?


I like doing it…  Well, one there was a need for the organization.  They wanted it faster and they also wanted someone writing our surveys that had knowledge of our categories.  And you know, obviously, cost plays a really big role. And just control, I love have control over the survey.  Like when I was on the supplier’s side, I used to write the survey on paper and hand it to the programmers. I way prefer just going in there myself and writing survey myself, using Qualtrics.


I feel like it’s better.  My background’s technology; so, for me, I’m very comfortable in a user interface or even a scripting environment.  I actually enjoy the creation of the survey in context of the environment versus converting it from a Word document or a paper document and then trying to get that into the system.   


Yeah, you definitely get more of a feel for what the respondent is experiencing…


You’re nailing the point right there, exactly, exactly.  ‘Cause, all of a sudden, you’re like, “You know what? An 11-point scale doesn’t make any sense for this ‘cause it’s just not going to be a fun experience from a respondent’s perspective.”


Then you can test for the mobile experience as well like if they’re going to have to flip their phones or anything that you can do to eliminate hassle.


Totally, exactly right.  That’s so interesting. I can’t believe no one brought that up before.  But yeah, you’re right. I mean that’s a big, big benefit ‘cause you design a questionnaire in Word or whatever and distribute and get buy-in and whatnot, but the problem is it’s happening without the context of the respondent.  You can’t once you set an anchor point up – “No, this is an 11-point scale” – you can’t undo that. You can’t go to a 5.


Well, you can, but you know…


You can but it’s a problem.  It’s a least a conversation.


Right, definitely.


And maybe it doesn’t end well,  a point of confrontation, right?  That’s a funny point. That’s a really good point.  I’m glad you brought that up, for sure. So, what’s your biggest need as in-house brand researcher?


I think my biggest need is navigating and understanding what other ways I can enhance our current approaches and what I mentioned about the tools after the data is collected.  How can the vendors and suppliers help us really amplify the results of our survey?


Right, like through storytelling and…  Are you incorporating a lot of external data, so like market data on the respondents or anything along those lines to supplement the reports?


No, not yet.  That’s something maybe working with the social media recruiters might be able to do, like give us their interests and their likes so that we can really profile these consumers that we’re talking to.  So, yeah, having access to Big Data is definitely of interest.


Yeah, for sure.  It’s funny Miriam has been on the podcast; she’s the Head of Insights for Microsoft.  And they’ve actually found a tremendous amount of benefit in their projects, finding purchase internally as they, they call it triangulating truth with respect to incorporating internal data into their actual self-reported data sets.  So, all of a sudden, “Oh, wow! Woo! Whee!” You know. The other part that’s interesting and you see a lot of that as you just look around the exhibit floor. Video is represented well. There’s a few different sentiment-analysis companies that are present here.  There’s a lot of, I’d say, new tech that continues to expand versus the traditional approaches that we’re going to do focus groups and just an online survey.


Yeah, definitely.  There’s a ton of new things going on.  Really nice to come to these conferences and reconnect with what’s happening in the industry.


So, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


They can reach out to me on LinkedIn.  I’d love to connect to anyone who’s doing DIY on the client side to collaborate and figure out like what their needs are and what they’re missing out on as well so to see if we have similar needs.  


Yeah, for sure.  And then, would you mind spelling your name for the audience, ‘cause audio context?


Yes, my name is C-O-U-R-T-N-E-Y  A-K-E-L. My name is Courtney from a tennis court.   


There you go.  Never going to forget it.  Courtney, Georgia Pacific. Thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.




Absolute honor having you.


Yes, thank you.


And I hope you enjoy the rest of the show.  


Awesome, thanks.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Carol Shea – Olivetree Insights

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Carol Shea, president of Olivetree Insights.

Contact Carol Online:


Olivetree Insights


Was able to intercept Carol Shea from Olivetree Insights on the floor right after her presentation at MRMW.  It’s a really interesting conversation. I hope you listen to the entire thing through the end. We talk about possible KPI’s for market research; additionally, the framework for managing the next generation of researchers; as well as dealing with really big business problems and helping your customers navigate through those things while leveraging research in an effective way.  Hope you enjoy it.


My guest today is Carol Shea with Olivetree Insights.  You presented yesterday at MRMW. What did you talk about?  


You know my passion is market research, the industry, and the people in the industry.  I’ve been in it for so many years. And so, now I’m at a point in my career where… I guess all through my career I’ve always loved the big hairy challenges things like:  “How do you get out of a category?” or “Should you get out of a category?” or “What’s the next big thing?” So, I started really dialoging with corporate people and recognized that they were have challenges internally in their organization.  The same research person that I may work for one-year reports to the CMO, the next year reports to the Director of Strategy. Their roles are shifting. How they integrate in the organization is changing. So the speech yesterday was really focused on providing some of the ideas that I’ve heard from corporate researchers on how can they pivot their own role from being a support system for the business to being a growth engine for the business.  Like today, this morning, I overheard a number of topics around activate research and how we’re supposed to be embedded in the business. But there’s this real disconnect. So that’s what my passion is right now: a different kind of a big hairy problem.


I mean it’s a big problem.  I think that proving an ROI on research and like you said zero-based budgeting…  You said they said yesterday that really came up a lot. I mean you really got to be cognizant of what is the actual outcome or return on a monetary basis to the organization.


That word scares people.  I don’t know… Have you talked to people much about ROI?


A little, not a lot.


Not a lot. I’m hoping to switch that to KPI.  Let me give you an example, OK, because I know I’ve worked with some clients that have done a brilliant job with ROI, but I also know that there’s a lot of situations where it’s just a frustrating conversation.  But one of the more interesting KPI’s I saw about connecting to the business is how many times in a business plan is the voice of the customer included. So, that to me is a really powerful KPI or something that shows how the business is utilizing the research that we’re providing.  So I think there’s probably some easier steps that we’re not really thinking about. When we think about ROI, we get all caught up in the financial aspects. Those are good but we cannot always do that. So not only business plan but even think about how often a business partner recommends another business partner to replicate or do a similar study.  Those are all really powerful KPI’s for integrating in the business.


I love that.  That’s a really useful way of thinking about it, a little less scary.


Yeah, but it also means engagement.  One of the other takeaways I have from every conference I go to is how empowered we are when we engage with our consumers. But turning that around and engaging with our clients can be difficult.  And it’s something that… You know I teach at the MBA level occasionally when I have some time, the market research classes. And I’ll see really junior data analysts and researchers; they are so into the methodology they don’t really know how to talk to the business.  So that piece about building comfort among our junior people more quickly and strongly I think it is a big opportunity for us in the business. I heard some of the speakers yesterday talk about how they’ve started to segment out their departments. So like, “Here, these are the people that are going to be strategic,”  “Here’s our data analysts,” “Here are the people that are going to be involved in secondary.” To not have everybody to some degree embedded in understanding the business, even right at the college level is a real flaw and to think that they don’t the ability to be strategic, I think is not giving them credit where credit is due.       


I totally agree with that.  I absolutely agree with that.  Good Book says, “Don’t let anyone despise your youth.”   I think there’s this framework that we feel like you can’t participate unless you’ve been at this for 20 years.  There’s also humility that has to be on both sides of the table. You look at where a lot of innovation stems from.  This is a trend you’re seeing in the Silicon Valley right now where you’ll have an innovation head like somebody that’s in their 20s, who’s maybe even in the early 20s, highly passionate and excited, and then they get “married” to somebody that’s old like me but also driven that, combined, they have this wealth of wisdom can recognize the patterns but also have a clear framework.  Jobs that said death is the ultimate innovator. It’s really an important point because that creates a path forward for the next generation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Tell me more about the comment that you made about when you work with younger people in this field.  You’re working with younger people. Tell me how you role-model your behaviors and your thinking so that they can pick up on that.   


I have two tactics.  And actually, it’s funny that you say that because my staff right now are between the ripe old ages of 22 and 24.  So you’re talking about not highly seasoned people, but they care a lot and they’re really smart. They’ve been in the digital environment their whole life, their whole awake lives.  So you got to understand that context. So it’s not like they’re brand-new. They’ve been doing Instagram as long as I’ve been doing Instagram, for example. So, the first thing that you have to apply…  And it’s easy for me because I am a small company, but if I was a big company, it would apply as well. Maybe not GE big, but a $100,000,000-dollar company, I think, you’d still be fine. And that is mistakes are OK because the rest of the world isn’t paying as much as attention to you as you think.  Really how many people read the press release? Not very many. And so, it’s OK if – not at scale – but if occasionally mistakes happen. So that’s the first piece that has to exist like in your psyche: you have to be OK with there being some just dumb stuff that comes out. But again, not repeating it, but being OK with the mistakes.  

And then the other part of it then is autonomy/framework.  So you have to have this tension between, I call it, context where, instead of it being like a 20-point checklist of check, check, check, check, check because as soon as that happens, you start checking your brain and relying on the system, and there’s always outliers.  So what you need to do is really understand what the context is. That’s where I operate off of a template. So what I mean by that is… – which is different than a checklist. I will tell, A press release is a great example. I will give one of my employees, Chueyee…  I’ll say, “OK, I want you to write a press release.” She’s like, “Great. I want to write a press release. I’ve done two in my whole career.” So I will say, “This is a really good press release. Model your press release off of this. Pretend it’s boilerplate.” Then she starts learning by execution.  What I’m finding is that it really sucks for me for like three months because there’s a lot more issues and mistakes that are getting to me that you wouldn’t have with somebody who’s in their 30s. But like after about 12 months, you have somebody that’s basically grown five years in their career because they are modeling their stuff off of best-in-class, best in the industry.  And we look outside of the industry in many cases for that kind of to model. So you’ve got to be willing to put in the work with that staff, but if you are willing to put in the hard work, then the rewards are just like… – I mean it’s hard for me to quantify a number – but it’s just massive because they’re conforming to your culture; they’re conforming to the global expertise of what is perfection; and they’re also conforming – in my case, everything is predicated on value.  I will never do anything unless there’s more value given on the other side of the table. So I’m not a taker; I’m a giver. That’s just like part of the thesis. So they’re kind of modeling that sort of behavior.


So, what I take from you is this:  Give them a success framework and let them experiment.


And let them experiment and make mistakes.          


Do good work, do bad work, learn from the mistakes.  So that framework and experimentation is kind of like what I’ve been thinking about a lot too.




And what happens in a corporate environment…  In the research execution work, we have a lot of really good frameworks, right?  I can borrow as a qualitative researcher, I can borrow conjoint techniques, throw out a whole bunch of dimes to people, and like borrow from those quantitative techniques, take that and use it in a qualitative setting.  When it comes to engaging with my business partners, the one framework that we have as an industry has always be the market research brief.  It’s the one concept that I have thoughts around how can we optimize that process so that it is a usable framework for doing the right work, but it’s not as simplistic as a checklist so that you check your brain out.  It allows people to experiment and learn; it actually educates your business partners through the process. So, how do we build a framework around that frontend to get smarter on the backend? And that’s what we’ve been playing with for the last year.  We got two clients using a software collaborative tool that is meant to bring up your junior staff to your senior-staff level. There is not a perfect template necessarily like you’re talking about – a perfect PR release. But there is some thinking…     


There’s a lot of known facts.


Right, there is.  Here’s another interesting thing that we found out over the last year, playing this out:  There’s only so many business objectives. So one of the questions we ask around design when we talk about like “What’s your motivation?  “Why are you doing this?” “Why are you doing this research?” “Why are you asking me for research? You want four focus groups.” And they say, “Well, you know we’re going to enter this new concept”  We think, “OK, we got it; I know what you want.” And the truth of the matter is we may not. They may already have a hypothesis in their head that, “I already know this is a slam dunk. My Kroger team is already asking for this project.  We’re moving forward with it.” So what winds up happening is I’m all excited because you want to launch this; you want to hear consumer feedback. We get it, comes back, and it says, “Yeah, they don’t really like this: they want chocolate macchiato flavor; they don’t want chocolate peanut butter.”  

And then my business partner says, “Thank you.  That’s awesome,” and goes off and does what he wants to do in the first place.  So the way we connect upfront, I think, has a lot of power and meaning, but it’s also identifying a process and a tool that teams can use collaboratively again to not check out because I’ve got a template.  There’s only so many business objectives: “I’m trying to grow.” “I’m trying to save money.” I mean, you know, there’s only so much to kind of get deeper into that to really understand the root drivers of research, where it’s going to play.  And then secondly, we’re more on that frontend. We start really thinking about where should our companies go. So, this is the other part of the presentation. We’re stuck in the next six months. So, I can’t tell you how many projects I get, you really talk about root causes, it’s like  “We’re stuck on this; we’re stuck on that.” “OK, that’s great. We need to spend time fixing that. What’s going to happen in two years? What’s going to happen in five years? Where are we going to be?” As researchers, we can help with that. We’re not being asked to. So we need to step up to the plate and say, “We’re going to help you.  We’re going to start doing scenario planning. We’re going to help you start forecasting 10, 15 years out.” And get people thinking and excited about the future. That’s up to us, and so far, I don’t see a lot of that.


Well, I think part of the reason is there’s this natural evolution of data.  As soon as you say data has impact, then… I’ve been sort of playing with this concept that actual market research is the most important asset for an organization because it’s the rudder of action.  So, it’s a small, little thing that maybe consists of 10% of a corporate budget as it relates at a product level, buy it has significant impact. When you move data out of a vacuum context, which was 90s and 2000s, it was all about just reports, physical…


It was dashboards.  It was dashboards, right?  


…And then you move it to more agile in time, moving the data or moving the insights, the point of inception of the insight from a sage on the hill to somebody in the field, in the battle, right?  It’s a really important difference because it’s empowerment in time. Now, all of a sudden, you’re talking about moving out of isolation and up the value chain. So, I had this wonderful interview, and I’ll include it in the show notes by the way, people.  So, I do apologize. And she was talking about this being the most exciting (This is almost a 30-year veteran), the most exciting point in her career by a mile because we’re literally getting red carpet to the board room.


We are, yeah.


I mean I’ve heard bitching and moaning my whole career about “They never pay attention, mree, mree, mree, mree.”  You know what I mean? And now it’s like, “Hey, listen, market research is really important. That’s why I’m very thankful for what Qualtrics did in SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics.  $400-million-dollar company, which is big, billion-dollar valuation, insane 20X, because, all of a sudden, the whole world woke up literally that day and they said, “This is really important.  This space is really important. And I think that we’re at the beginning of the J-curve. But what happens is now market research has to take its voice, the action part, it has to move upstream and it has to move downstream in context of where the value is.  So it’s much more of a distributed model versus a consolidated model.


It is, it is.  And it’s not going back to consolidated model, which is good.  It shouldn’t go back to that. On the other hand, what’s happening is leadership is inundated with data.  And it’s the truth, and to some degree, it’s the fault of all of us as an industry. Dashboards are wonderful tools, but they’re individual data points, and if there’s not someone or not a team organizing “What does this all mean for us?” on a regular basis and on a consistent basis, then what you wind up doing is you wind up repeating the same studies over and over.  This moving up the stream, I think, is really important and helping leadership understand that. So, Walmart had… (I showed a video for Walmart yesterday) and the team calls themselves the headlights of the organization.


Oh, that’s so clever.


Isn’t that really, like you’re looking out into the future, but I think there’s a missing piece there.  Again, we’re still in an informative role, and you just hit on this around actionability, and that really we’re an asset.  Perhaps, we should be more like “We’re your competitive intelligence, er, competitive advantage. (Sorry, that’s what I meant.)  We’re your competitive advantage. You can count on this many dollars from us, again back to the ROI. You’re going to grow because leaders want insights-driven growth whereas ten years ago, it was operational and financial.  I mean that’s the trick. But it is getting that upstream story versus playing at the service provider, data waitress, I like to call it.


I love that term too.  You know it’s interesting, and I like how you’re framing the historical journey of data.  And I think we’re entering into a stage now where Wall Street is going to believe that it takes a while to build successful brands as opposed to measure them on a daily basis.  


You think?  I don’t know.  So, tell me what makes you think that?  ‘Cause that’s very provocative to me.


Well, I’ll tell you why.  If you look at the actual cost of developing a software platform, it’s very material.  This is going to be a little bit of the weak side; so, I apologize about the accounting part of it.  But Wall Street, they strip out the cost basis, the R&D side of things because they’re just looking at what’s called gross margin.  So, what’s the profit on that dollar of software, which is insanely profitable. But it’s this massive machine that has to be assembled on the backend in the same way that a manufacturer creates a big machine.  You have this cap-ex expense, and then it generates revenue. Well, I think what needs to start happening is – and this is to your point about us moving from a cost-basis to an asset-basis, I think what has to happen is that market research as a data source, data needs to be moved into the cap-ex asset class.  

And the implication there is, all of a sudden, it isn’t treated as a negative on the gross margin for a project; it’s considered to be part of the value that is the machine that is driving good decisions.  I think this is an interesting point because just like basic accounting isn’t kind of treating it that way right now. But I really think that as companies start becoming overweight, maybe not overweight, but right-sided in terms of the amount of money they’re spending on research, they’re going to start being incentivized to look at “How should this asset class really be treated?”  or “How should this cost base really be treated?” And I think that’s going to wind up whether in the R&D or the machine, more in the cap-ex side of the business.


I don’t know.  It seems like the investments in the last three to five years have been in-house data people.  I don’t know if they’re looking at…


A developer, for example, is going to fit in a business, like my business, is going to fit in the R&D, which is not impacting my gross margin.   I think a data scientist could fit in that same spot; I think a market researcher could fit in that same spot. Now, all of a sudden, you say, “OK, if data is an asset that I can average over time, then now my ad hoc market research projects, to your point, if they start informing my data set, then maybe I can move to the asset part of the thing.  So then, my thesis on this, which is weak but I really think it’s the truth, I think the accounting reflects the realities of the business.  So, look at Amazon; Amazon wins because they know everything. Target wins ‘cause they know everything. There’s just no question about it. So, is it the case that they have the best systems?  Yes. And they’ve invested in those, but they also have all of the data. And the data is why they win. So to not put it in that…


So, Wall Street is going to see that and start to reward that, continue to reward that.  Well, that would be, right.


The same way they reward growth.  Again, going back to Survey Monkey is a good example whatever:  $200 million business, which was basically break even when they IPOed but still got a good valuation.  I think a company that’s not employing research long-term, from Wall Street’s lens, is going to be viewed in the same way that a company stops growing.  It really turns into more of the cash-cow sort of view point, which like conversely… So, we have Qualtrics, which is a $400-million company trading at $8 billion; you have Ipsos, which is a $2 billion company trading at $1 billion.   


How interesting.  Wow, I did not realize that.


20x.5  It’s crazy, the delta there.  And the cash that is spinning off of Ipsos is huge.  So, you’ve got this… But why? Because Wall Street doesn’t see the growth there.  So, anyway, I’ve been talking too much.


That’s fascinating.  No, I’m so happy to hear that because it is the big gap for me, is connecting back to leadership and having them understand that we are an asset.  And then it’s how do you build frameworks and processes around that to build collaborations because it’s a new model of working. I know some organizations are going to matrix-type frameworks because they want to embed researchers within the teams, and that way it kind of embeds that thinking.  Great, great. But you still have silos; you still have some elements that break through because it is about the connectivity of all of it. Technology can help us; we need the humans. My exploration is from that sort of aspect. I’m just going to say I don’t know a lot about all this. So I’m just asking the questions, trying to find the right paths and like what might be next for our fields because I love it.  I love the people in it. I want them all to succeed and I think it’s important for this to succeed.


Totally.  It’s so important.


Thank you for asking these really key questions.


So, Olivetree Research.  Tell me what in the world you guys do exactly.


So, I’m pivoting my business.  So, I’ve been a consultant for some major brands for the last 12 years, mostly in the CPG space, almost always in big, hairy problems.  I don’t know why anybody doesn’t ever ask me to do a brand tracker ‘cause I know how to do it?


[laughter]  Think of all of the money you would make if you just did that.


Think about that!  But no, it’s always hard problems.  But my passion right now is to build the coaching side of the business; so, we do workshops on things like how to build the team charter all the way up to how to do scenario planning and knowledge harvest, and then this third tier that I’m building is this how do we bring technology into the design side.  We’ve got a beta tool out there right now with two great clients and a big team is using the insights template but how do we build a better collaborative tool. So I encourage anyone that’s got an interest in engaging better with the business to chat with me about what your challenges are so that we can build tools for that specifically.


So it’s a combination of…  You’re bringing some brute force high-level thinking, and then also technology.


That’s where the future has to be.  It’s bringing these processes in so that they can be democratized.  It’s not all in little Carol’s head: it’s out there so everyone can access it. And Jamin’s head, all the wonderful people, Merrill Dubrow, all the wonderful people.  It’s getting that out there so that the new generation of researchers and analysts collaboratively can elevate their paths towards being more strategic and connecting to the business.


So, Carol, if someone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[24:32] is the easiest.


Got it.  Perfect. Of course, we’ll include that in the show notes.  Carol, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Thank you so much, Jamin.


It’s an absolute honor.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

Ep. 213 – MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Brian Lamar – EMI Research Solutions

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Brain Lamar, VP of Insights at EMI Research Solutions.

Contact Brian Online:


EMI Research Solutions


Live at MRMW in Cincinnati, I did a series of interviews on the show floor with both exhibitors and speakers.  Brian Lamar happened to be by. He’s a fellow podcaster as well as EMI Research Solutions. Tell you what… For me, it was a lot of fun having an opportunity to just riff with him the state of pcs, where the white space is for our industry, and utilizing podcasts as well as the viral video that PureSpectrum put out fairly recently, featuring David Butler’s first foray into the entertainment industry.  Hope you enjoy our banter.     


Brian Lamar, EMI Research Solutions, I really enjoy…  In fact, I wrote a blog post where I talked about your podcast.


Did you?


I did, I did.


I got to find that.


I’ll obviously send it to you.  You, Adam have been doing the podcast for quite a while.  Adam, of course, was on the show earlier. Maybe tell the listeners exactly how they can find the podcast.  


Yeah, it’s called Intellicast, and we wouldn’t do it without a marketing team.  If it was just Adam and I, it would never happen. So, we had the idea probably a year and a half ago.  It’s mostly market research, but we goof off a ton; so, I like to call it half market research news and discussion and then half like morning radio show.  It’s a little bit different than yours; you’re a very professional interviewer and good at your job. We’re not as good at that; we’re more… We’re probably better at the fun stuff.  [laughter] Cause we get boring, alright?


Well, I get boring.  That’s for sure. What is one of the moments where you’re like “Gosh, I really can’t wait to edit that piece out of the podcast”?    


A lot of it is we goof off so much, and we don’t know what direction we’re going.  So, we don’t have nearly the guests that you have. We just talk sometimes. Like we had David Butler, a coworker of yours, on yesterday. And we just talked about college basketball; we talked about news; we talked about PureSpectrum a little bit.  And sometimes we just go off on these tangents. The embarrassing thing for me is that people feel like they really know me because I…


Because they do.  There’s a bunch of data – and I mean this.  There’s volumes of data that has been produced. actually releases it at scale. If you’re not tuning in to that podcast, it’s a two-minute daily briefing on industry happenings in the podcasting world.  But there is an emotional connection that the audience makes because they hear your voice in their ear. I know this sounds silly to make those obvious connections. But you think about the context of when a podcast is consumed and it’s usually when you’re doing…  It’s always multi-tasking. So, you never go home, sit down, listen to a podcast, right? So that means that the times that you’re involved in that person’s life is when… usually the points of drudgery or boredom. But they still have to focus: so, driving, commuting, mowing the lawn, basic household chores, honey-does, whatever.  You’re actually occupying their mind as their hands go or their bodies go through some routine. And so, there’s an emotional connection that is actually very deep that you make with the audience that, I think that we are just starting to appreciate that power. And so, you’re right: You can meet somebody that you’ve never met before, and they will feel like they know you.  And you know why? They kind of do.


To me, that’s the greatest part of this.  I’m kind of an introvert. That’s the greatest advantage of doing a podcast.  It’s also kind of a disadvantage. And something that is really embarrassing for me is that people come up to me.  It’s awesome for me because we have an icebreaker, right? “Oh, I heard you on the podcast and I know that you’re a Kentucky basketball fan.  And I know that you like to eat pie,” for example. It’s just easier for conversation, but also, I feel like I’m out there a lot. So it’s a little uncomfortable and awkward.  So that’s probably my most embarrassing moment. It’s probably not on the air, is that people knowing a little bit, getting inside a little bit too much. Do you experience that?     


So, there’s two benefits of running a podcast.  For me, personally, I’m innately an introvert. When Jayme Plunkett and myself started Decipher back in 2000 and Kristin Luck left OTX in 2007, a company she had founded with Shelley Zalis, we recognized straight away there was a big opportunity to partner with her.  And so, we acquired her company, and then the three of us drove to successful outcomes through Decipher. But the whole thesis of that acquisition was Jayme and I hated… We’ll solve your problem, but we’re not going to go to cocktail hour. Like that for me is terrifying.           


That’s me.  Yeah.


Like I’ll start sweating.  I’m that guy, right? And so, what’s been really nice is, all of a sudden…  It’s almost selfish because I get more out of the podcast than anybody else because it’s enabled me to work on that introvert and develop a level of confidence where I can go sit down at a table and have a conversation with people.  And this is why, is because I’ve realized the power of a question, which is so stupid over two decades in market research. But all I have to do is say, “Hey, I’m, Jamin. What’s your name? Where are you from?” And then I can literally go down the routine of “How did you get into market research?  What do you see as the three characteristics of an All-Star Employee?” I can occupy a conversation, fill about 20% of it, and the person will have an engaged experience.


Right. [Jamin laughs.]  That’s amazing. I feel like we have a lot of similar qualities.  I’m the same way. It just helps with that, in the introvert in me as well.  


Yeah, for sure.  Maybe the real hack here is if you’re introverted, want to be extroverted?  Start a podcast.


Well, it’s probably easier for me because I have a co-host, who’s not an introvert.  


Adam is the opposite.


Yeah, so he’s the one that goes to the cocktail hour, and he’s the one that kind of leads the show.  And sometimes I can just pepper in conversations, and I can think about it. I tend to try to take more time to think about things.  That’s where I get into trouble. If I shout out whatever I’m thinking, then that wouldn’t be a very good podcast.


So, I spoke with Adam and Sima Vasa, who has Data Gurus, other podcast I recommended in the market research space, about the possibility of monetizing podcasts in the form of advertisements.  I have had a hell of a time getting sponsors for the podcast. We have three or four, which I am… Attest, Schlesinger, right, two great partners for us. But, broadly speaking, you can’t make a living as a podcaster.  


No, not in our industry probably.  We would have to expand a little bit.


But like, conversely, and I’m not going to ask you unless you’re willing to, which I’d love you to share.  On an episode for us, (and we’re grinding all the time; we’ve just released at least over a hundred episodes.)


Yeah, that’s crazy.


Starting in June.  8/8 was our first episode drop, but we actually started the episodes in June.  We’re about between 400 and sometimes we’ll hit 500 downloads per episode within about a month period of time.  And I don’t feel like that’s very much to be honest with you. I’m like, “Why it is not a lot more?”


Agree.  Our numbers are somewhat similar to that.  I think we’ve been around a little bit longer than you have, but you have a much bigger brand name than we did probably.  I mean most people know who you are. Yet it seems small to me. A lot of it is the challenge of – maybe you have mastered this or figured it out – is that it’s really hard to aggregate all of the numbers that cross Soundcloud and iTunes and all the different, various forms.       


What do you host with?


Whatever you do?




Oh, I don’t even know.


Blubrry, blubrry.  I just converted last week from Libsyn to Blubrry.  Next week we’ll launch our new website. So, I’m super excited about that.  I mean that’s an interesting point that you’re making, and that is there’s not a good data…  We don’t have a lot of data on the audience. So, we don’t know the number of new subscribers. We can’t track attrition.  We can’t track number of downloads by user.


I don’t even know if people listen to the end of the episode.  We make jokes throughout. If you’re listening, let me know.


Yeah, totally.  … podcasts. I’ve been consuming them for years.  That’s one of the things we could do a better job of, personally, is create some Easter egg at the end… free giveaway, right?  [laughter]


Back to your original question about sponsors.  We don’t have any sponsors. My joke is that we’re going to eventually secede from EMI, and Intellicast will be its own brand, similar to how you’ve kind of done it, is that Intellicast will secede from EMI and make billions of dollars with our – I call it – dozens of listeners.  


[laughter] Dozens of listeners, I love it.  I mean, gosh, that’s so funny. But this is what’s interesting, is like the connection that the guests can make to the consumer, the listener, the audience is, I believe, much deeper that you get in a webinar.  I don’t know if you’ve participated in many webinars.


Yes, I have.


OK, so what percentage of your time is multi-tasking in a webinar.  Like when you’re participating… What I mean by “participate” is like as an observer not as a… doing the webinar.  




At least.  As soon as you get an email, you’re responding to it.  100% of the time.


Checking my phone, having a personal conversation.  


Exactly.  Get up, go away, come back, right?  The problem with the webinar is that it does require… It usually requires a video element.  So now you’ve got this multi-modal engagement and also, it’s synchronous. So, it happens in context of time.  So now you’ve got three elements that are really important for it to be a maximized return of time. This is my point, right?  And you look at the audience sizes of like IIEX’s, you pick on the brand that’s doing the webinars, they’re ten grand. It’s ten grand to do an episode.  I’m not saying it’s not a good value. I’m just saying that… (And this is what I think what your point about making billions of dollars on the is really funny but it also…)  I didn’t really think this was true that smart brands in our space are going to start picking it up. I’ve had… (And this is not an exaggeration.) I’ve had eight, like eight, like inbounds from LinkedIn who have told me, “Thank you so much for the podcast.”  These are big companies. “We use it to curate new, perspective vendors.”


That’s awesome.  That’s great.


I’m thinking why the f***, if I have brand, you know what I would do?  When my new company launches, this is the truth of it, you and Sima and a few others are my first calls for “How much does it cost to be on the pc?”  100%.


I don’t get it either.  [laughter] No idea why people don’t do that because I know that …  People tell me and I know that entire offices listen to our podcast. Why wouldn’t you want get your name out?


There’s a CEO that reached out to me in our industry of a good sized company and they’ve growing rapidly.  He reached out to me and many of his staff, they do a monthly book club where they consume the podcast and then they meet as a group and they talk about, they pull out what they thought was the best part of it and how they can apply…  So, you know…


Oh, wow!


Yeah, right.  And that’s where he gets like the real intentionality of a podcast is you as a host you can actually draw in value for the listener.  And so, you ask strategic questions like “What is the one problem you wish market researchers would solve for you today?” And now, all of a sudden, you’re at EMI, you’re thinking, “Holy Moly!  I can solve that problem. Here I am.”


What a sales vehicle!  I don’t really think like that.  Like when I’m on the podcast, I’m interviewing somebody.  I want to get to know them. I’m just curious. I want to help promote them because, for me, I kind of feel like I’m doing them a favor.    


Absolutely, and you are.  And they’re not paying you.


Right, exactly.  So, that’s how I think about it.  Hopefully, Michael Holmes is not listening to this.  But I should think about it, how we could better leverage it from like a sales perspective, lead generation.  But I don’t know, maybe, that’s…


It’s all tactical.  And you got to think, at the end of the day, you got to do two things:  You got to add value and you got to be where people are. And that’s where I see we’re all very fortunate that we’ve been earlier into the game of podcasting in the market research space.  I love tuning in to you guys; you’re a regular part of my commute.


Oh, thank you.


I can’t wait to hear the David Butler drop.  


Oh, yeah.  David Butler spent a good 30 minutes with us yesterday.


That’s a long time on your show.


Yeah, that is.  It was great to have him in-studio.  (Well, I call it in-studio. We have a little bitty conference room that we do it in.)  It was great to have him. We do an interview just completely separate, somewhat similar to how you do your interviews.  And we goof off before and after. But he got to goof off with us a little bit. So that was actually more fun because you know how witty and smart he is.  


He’s probably one of the smartest and funniest people that I’ve…


Absolutely. Well, we talked about the Mars.  I did my top four favorite things about the Mars video.


Oh, I bet he loved that.


Hopefully, he did.  He was not one of the top four things although he wrote most of it.


[laughter]  Actually, he did.  That was quite literally the David Butler.  I thought it was one of the top… Actually, I’m going to pull back.  I’m going to say that I can’t think of another video that’s ever been produced in our space that’s funnier.  


I got so lucky that this came out on April 1st.  I saw Michael McCrary on April 2nd at Quirks in Chicago.  And I got fortunate to spend 20 minutes with him lost on Navy Pier in Chicago, trying to find the Quirks conference.  He was kind of stuck with me. I was asking him questions, and I was telling about the video. Like I watched it three times.  So, hopefully, he was proud about that.


You’ll love this.  This is a little bit further inside baseball.  So, we’re having a meeting and talking to the director of the…  They did a great job of the production.




Anyway, I’ll actually in this show, I’ll drop their information in the show notes in case other people want to use them.  But anyway, so, and David Butler started the meeting with, “You know what I’d like to do? Let’s just take a minute and talk about our favorite parts of the script that I wrote.”  [laughter] I swear to God! Holy sh** this is really happening right now. Anyways, so it was like…


Here’s how much I love David Butler.  Who loves David Butler’s writing more than the next person?  


Right, that’s right.  And that’s going to be…  [laughter]


Right.  It was well-written.


It was super well-written.  And that’s why I got to make fun of him just because I’m jealous of his mad skills.    


Well, hopefully, this is a continuing thing for you guys.  You’ll do another video. Now, you’ve set the bar high.


Hey, listen.  I’m not kidding when I say it was 100% him.  I was literally blown away… the quality. And you know what’s funny too?  He doesn’t actually like The Office or watch it.  


Oh, my God.  What?


How did that not even come up?  Like literally he will not watch The Office.  


How is that possible?


Maybe, he’s seen a part of an episode.  


That had so many like…  Oh, clearly, this is someone inspired by The Office.


Not even once, not even a little bit.  He hates The Office.


Well, one of my favorite four moments was when Michael McCrary was going up and down with his desk.  He says it’s just right and blah, blah, blah because that’s what I do at work. We’re fortunate to have those desks that go up and down.  And so, I totally empathize with that. So it hit the spot with me.


So many funny jokes I want to make right now, but I’m not going to in the interest of cleanliness.  [laughter] EMI Research Solutions, you guys have a base here at…


We do not.  We’re just kind of wandering around and taking in the content.  


Alright, good.  What do you think?  Is this your first year?  


My first time.  Well, first of all, it’s my first time to going to a conference that’s in my hometown.  So, it’s kind of great to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight for once, but also, it’s kind of weird.  But the conference is great. Great speakers.


Do you have an extra room?


Do I have an extra room?  No extra room ‘cause I have a bulldog, and a wife, and a 17-year-old.


Yeah, I see what’s happening here.  OK, go ahead.


I’m enjoying the conference.  My first time here. I’m glad it’s in Cincinnati, and I love the speakers.  Gayle Fuguitt is amazing and just looking forward to the rest of the content.       


Yeah, there’s two things I like about the show.  And I think it’s a big improvement over last year’s although this is my first year.  I’m just going on hearsay last year. And that is that the exhibit hall is in the middle of traffic.  So, in order to enter into the event, you have to go through the exhibit hall. And the exhibit hall is a nice, tight structure.  You know what I mean? You can’t get lost. There’s not a bad spot per se, maybe that one way over there, but other than that…  But even that’s not bad because you’re going to have the food.  You know what I mean? So there’s not really a bad spot on the floor.  Do you think you’ll exhibit next year?


We may.  We finally have a marketing person who produces our podcasts.  We probably will have a booth at some point. This would be a good spot to have it.  This reminds me of a little bit of Quirk’s. Have you been to a Quirk’s?


Oh, yeah.  


And so, I love how they have the vendor hall; it’s the center of the…  That’s how they keep the prices down, is to have a lot of vendors, right?  So, I loved Quirk’s because it had so many different booths; so, you had to wander through and that’s where the center of attention was.  Similar here: you have to walk through here. I want to talk to the people that are exhibiting in the booths, and, I think, hopefully everybody does.  


No, I totally agree.  Thank you to the exhibitors for doing it.  MRMW: the quality of the speakers. We just heard from Gayle at Four Square.  So much value. And then was it the Chief Insights and Data Officer at Proctor & Gamble.  So, that’s a big deal. His was great as well. I wish it was a little bit longer. I wish I had the opportunity to…  Hopefully, can interview him actually. But, anyway, so yeah, it was just a great opening for Day 1.


Well, thank you for having me.  I appreciate it.


Thank you, sir.



MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Pre-Conference Series – Natasha Hritzuk – Turner

This series is a preview of the MRMW North America Conference 2019. Join consumer insight and market research professionals as we hear from today’s thought leaders on trends and innovations in the market research industry. Mark your calendars for April 10th through the 11th in Cincinnati for the MRMW North America Conference and click the button below to register.

This is the second interview of the MRMW NA 2019 pre-conference mini series. Happy Market Research host, Jamin Brazil, interviews VP of Consumer Insights at Turner, Natasha Hritzuk. We hope you enjoy this mini series where we talk to insights professionals who are helping power the future of insight automation.

Find Natasha Online:




This episode is a preview of the MRMW North American Conference of 2019.  Join consumer insights and market research professionals as we hear from today’s thought leaders on trends and innovations in the market research industry.  Mark your calendars for April 10th through the 11th in Cincinnati for the MRMW North American Conference and head to to register or check the show notes.  I hope to see you there.

Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  My guest today is Natasha Hritzuk, VP of Customer Insights at Turner. Turner is a global broadcast media company specializing in entertainment, sports, and news since 1970.  Prior to joining Turner, Natasha held positions such as the Global Head of Research and Insights at Microsoft and was also the Head of Category and Consumer Insights at General Mills.  

Natasha, thank you so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.      


My pleasure.


So, MRMW is coming up in Cincinnati April 10th and 11th.  I’m very excited about this; it’s got some fantastic speakers, of course, including yourself.  Please give us a three-minute overview of your presentation.


So, we actually switched topics a little bit because I think as Christina and I continued to have a dialogue, we realized that one area that we think will be of interest to the audience is around how we have brought in fresh thinking from a market research perspective to help us tackle some of the challenges that our industry is currently facing, media and entertainment explicitly, and how we’re leveraging some of these new approaches and new ways of thinking to really define a path for innovation for the industry.  So, obviously within Turner and the broader media entertainment industry we have a couple of challenges that are considerable: One is that consumers are increasingly not interested in watching ads and, secondly, consumers are increasingly cutting the cord; so, cable subscriptions are slowly starting to wither away. innovation is actually really vital in our industry, particularly in terms of monetizing the content that we build and, ultimately, what makes consumers passionate about our brands and our properties is the content.  So, faced with this challenge, we were debating about the best way to tackle it from a research perspective. The more I started to think about some of the challenges in our industry… You know we’re entering the out-market place at a time that there is a surfeit of apps and streaming apps out there, becoming incredibly competitive. And content itself is becoming more and more commodified. There’s a ton of great content out there. So, how do we really ensure that the consumers will land on our content and have a great experience when using our streaming apps.

So I started to think that maybe some of the ways or the core way that we could tackle some of these challenges was to borrow from some of the methodologies and approaches that I used in the world of CPG where commodification or the need to really differentiate is really core to most CPG categories where you have a ton of different products usually competing in a single space.  So, what we decided to do is take an approach for building technology products and features around content and streaming as well as to help us understand the best ad walls that we should be focused on moving forward. We decided, instead of just building stuff and testing it with consumers and hoping they liked it, we thought we should really be again taking a page from the book of CPG and bringing consumers into the development process far earlier on.  So, having a really clear-cut discovery phase where you’re understanding what are the needs and unmet needs that consumers have so that we can start to build around those needs and unmet needs… And then secondly, not just building stuff and testing it, but actually having consumers baked into the build process…

What we’ve been doing across these areas that I flagged is actually building products with consumers:  So using co-creation, which historically I would have used for working with consumers to build an ice cream bar, working for an ice cream brand or a new variant of a granola bar if I was working on a snack food brand.  But instead of working on food, we worked with consumers to co-create and build technology products that are explicitly related to media. In our instance, we were looking at features, key features, for apps, streaming apps, as well as the ads that consumers would maybe even embrace that could live within the streaming environment.

And, you know, it was really fruitful because -one- I think there’s this notion that consumers don’t know what they want.  I actually would counter that by saying that consumers actually are very clear about what they want, particularly when they are not getting all of their needs met in a specific instance.  I think there’s also a risk in launching things that consumers haven’t already sanctioned or launching things that don’t address a really clear consumer need. I think CPG has just kind of nailed these approaches.  So, taking those approaches and folding them into the world of media and entertainment has been really interesting and actually pretty fruitful for us.


My favorite example of this is you go back to the first iPhone, which was I think called the Newton by Steve Jobs, which launched in the early 90s and failed miserably.  But then as the iPod maintained dominance or achieved dominance in spearheading that space… Boom, all of a sudden now you’ve got the iPhone. So, there’s this whole like market readiness that has to exist in order for the new to be consumed.  

But the other part that you said was really interesting is incorporating the consumer voice earlier in the ideation process.  One of the things that I’ve seen is a massive growth among consumer or UX researchers, UI researchers, etc… In fact, in many companies, I’ll pick on Lyft, for example, they have five researchers and over 40 UX researchers.  The reason why is because those UX researchers are sitting, the consumer experience researchers are sitting right beside the people which are implementing the product. It has to do with the proximity to when the decisions are being made.  Are you seeing that research is having a bigger opportunity than we’ve had historically to influence brands?


Well, I think in the product space historically and certainly in technology and to some extent in media, things got built, then launched.  Usually when you start doing the testing is pre-launch, but you’re already assessing or testing something that had been baked. The challenge with that is consumers will evaluate whether they like it or not, but what you will never know is whether there was a better alternative that the engineers hadn’t thought of.  I think what’s been really critical for us and what I think has been a great learning experience for us is that we don’t have to worry that we haven’t exhausted all of the adjacent opportunities that consumers might have preferred over the core idea because consumers are actually building the products and building the features to begin with.  Now, again, it may not be exhaustive, but at least we know that we’re not betting on one idea and have missed maybe five core ideas that would have been more conducive to what consumers want and need.


Yeah, it is all about creating that thing that the consumer wants when they want it.  So, your talk… What is one action that researchers can take based on the information that you’re going to be sharing?


I think part of it is just the way that we think about hiring and the hiring process.  I think historically we, as an industry, are always looking for deep specialization. So, initially it was methodological specialization, but I think we have a real tendency to hire within vertical.  If you’re a media researcher, that’s what you do for 25 years. If you’re in CPG, you just work for CPG companies. I actually think that’s a mistake: the world is incredibly complicated. I think where there are parallels is every industry for the most part is facing unique challenges.  What with the advent of digital and a lot of commoditization of products and content in various new channels that have been cropping up and just the advent of all of these new technologies… I think those themes are similar, but I think without getting fresh thinking infused into the company, to just do things the way that you’ve always done things is problematic.  I think that it stifles innovation. The more we have the courage to hire people outside of our explicit vertical and have the courage to bake in that kind of new thinking and challenge ourselves to maybe do things that other industries or verticals have done that maybe we hadn’t thought of, I think that kind of outside-of-the-box thinking is really critical to compete in such a complicated world.  Doing things the way we’ve always done things doesn’t work in a fast-changing, complex world. We need to continuously think different and think new. By having that diversity of thinking within the workplace from cross-vertical experience, I think is an important starting point. It has certainly made a difference in terms of the way that we’re approaching the rapid change within media and entertainment by bringing more of a consumer-packaged goods framed to the way we’ve been doing things.


My guest today has been Natasha Hritzuk, VP of Consumer Insights at Turner.  Thank you so much, Natasha, for joining me today on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


My pleasure.

MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

Ep. 205: MRMW NA 2019 Pre-Conference Series – Gayle Fuguitt – Foursquare

This series is a preview of the MRMW North America Conference 2019. Join consumer insight and market research professionals as we hear from today’s thought leaders on trends and innovations in the market research industry. Mark your calendars for April 10th through the 11th in Cincinnati for the MRMW North America Conference.

This is the first interview of the MRMW NA 2019 pre-conference mini series. Happy Market Research host, Jamin Brazil, interviews Chief of Customer Insight and Innovation at Foursquare, Gayle Fuguitt. We hope you enjoy this mini series where we talk to insights professionals who are helping power the future of insight automation.

Find Gayle Online:




This episode is a preview of the MRMW North American Conference of 2019.  Join consumer insights and market research professionals as we hear from today’s thought leaders on trends and innovations in the market research industry.  Mark your calendars for April 10th through the 11th in Cincinnati for the MRMW North American Conference and head to to register or check the show notes.  I hope to see you there.

My guest today is Gayle Fuguitt, Chief of Customer Insights and Innovation of Foursquare.  Foursquare is a global, mobile solution for location intelligence for marketers and advertisers to build brands and drive growth, channeling the voice of the marketer to the measurement industry.  Prior to joining Foursquare, Gayle has been the President and CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation or ARF.

Hey, Gayle, thanks so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.     


Thank you.  Thanks for having me.


Oh, it is an honor to have you as a guest.  ARF plays a material role in our industry, and having the previous President and CEO is a really big deal.  Yeah, truly, thanks.

So, we’ve got the North America MRMW Conference coming up in Cincinnati, and you are one of the speakers.  I was hoping that you’d give us a little bit of an intro into your presentation.


Yeah, I’m really excited to do that.  So, it’s early up in the conference. I really believe in this market research in the mobile world platform.  And I’m a fan of this conference, having produced a lot of conferences at the ARF and gone to a lot when I was actually leading the Insights Department at General Mills.

What I want to talk about is this topic of engaging today’s modern consumer with modern marketing, and it’s marketing re-invented.  The opportunity that we have is to get the right message to the right person at the right time. And there are so many new technologies available.  But at Foursquare, what we really believe is that people vote with their feet, and the best way to understand who someone is and reach them (I say head, heart and feet) is by actually understanding all the places that they go.  So, we understand all the places that people go on their path to purchase before they go and make a purchase all the way to after. And while there’s so much conversation right now about e-commerce, the truth is the 90% of purchases still happen in what we refer to as the “real world” (brick and mortar).  Being able to really understand how to connect with consumers in real time as they experience life and are actually looking for messaging – not necessarily when the have a map out and they’re trying to find the nearest subway like I would be in New York. But there’s some untimely messaging, and there certainly is a lot of messaging out there that is uninvited by consumers.  But I really feel that we have a distinct opportunity to deliver these messages and connect with consumers’ head, heart, and feet, make an emotional connection that will bring relevance and translate their values into brand value.


What I like about this is we already understand that social media, for example, creates a certain context.  So, if I’m in LinkedIn, messaging needs to be geared a certain way. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – it’s all the framework, that context of my head space when I enter into that environment.  But you’re right: you’re really talking about the next dimension, which is also the context of where I am and the stress that I’m undergoing or the stimuli that I’m undergoing from my environment around me that has massive impact on what it is that a marketer should be able to feed me.   


Exactly.  So, we really think about it, Jamin, as bridging the digital to real world divide.

As you bring up – digital media, social media and helping consumers live more fulfilling, more interesting lives.


Super awesome.  I can’t wait to hear that talk.  Can you give me one, and our listeners, one action that researchers should be taking, based on the information that you’re going to be sharing?  


Yes, I think they need to jump in and experiment, learn, and scale with location technology, of course, like Foursquare.  The reason I joined Foursquare… and it actually happened and it was inspired by the first market research in the mobile world conference that I went to in Amsterdam back in around 2010 and 2011.  It was absolutely an inspirational experience for me. But the one action that consumers can take away is to build bold collaborations with new partners that they can meet at the conference, to experiment, learn, and scale with location technology and then to actually ultimately work on attributing where consumers go and their foot traffic and their behavioral patterns to attributing it to growth and sales by understanding the effectiveness of media.  So, we have a closed-loop solution that goes from digital advertising all the way to dynamically inserting media, as you say, in context, and then ultimately attributing it to growth and sales. For me, it’s the most exciting time in the industry, but we’re all going to have to demonstrate different leadership skills and, I think, being more courageous and inventive as we do it.


Right.  As we know – I’m talking to myself here as well – market research has not been on the leading edge of these types of movements.  Having said that, the demand from the market has never been hotter. And I completely agree with you: this is the absolute most exciting time in my career as it relates with marketing research.  We’re just getting such a better opportunity to positively impact the customer experience.




So, this year’s theme is Insights Automation.  We’re hearing a lot about it in other conferences as well.  How is the market research industry responding to insights automation?


Well, look, the way I think about the research industry and the insights and analytics industry is something I actually said in a talk invoking my group at General Mills a few years back, which is “Our time is NOW.”  I really believe that insights for all people speak of them being democratized. They are the coin of the realm of better business decisions. I believe that, in spite of the fact that with our artificial intelligence and virtual reality and all the technological solutions that are really exciting, that what leaders and what the C-suite is seeking is actually real intelligence.  Rather than being the smartest people in the room, as researchers we have an opportunity to be the most influential. So, going out and getting the latest and greatest, as you say, even some at the leading edge, solutions, trying them, then scaling them and bringing them back to our organizations is really going to be tantamount to delivering better business results. A lot of companies are struggling with growth right now, and I believe that the secret sauce to growth lies in the hands of insights and analytics executives.  Roles are being redefined, but it doesn’t take one thing from our opportunity. I agree with you 100% that this is the most exciting time I can remember in my career.


My guest today has been Gayle, Chief of Customer Insights and Innovation of Foursquare.  Thank you so much for joining me today on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Thanks, Jamin.  It’s been great.


And thank you everyone who’s listening.  As always, your feedback on iTunes allows other people like you to find this content.  Would really appreciate it if you’d share it. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and I also hope to see you at the North America MRMW Conference.