Podcast Series

The Happy Market Research podcast publishes interviews with insight leaders on the last Tuesday of the month.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Rick Kelly – Fuel Cycle

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Rick Kelly, Senior Vice President of Product & Research at Fuel Cycle.

Contact Rick Online:


Fuel Cycle


Rick Kelly, Fuel Cycle, Senior Leader at that company.  This is the second interview we did with Fuel Cycle. As I already mentioned, Fuel Cycle is a research, cloud-based platform that has their own set of qualitative and quantitative solutions integrated directly into it as well as they’ve plugged in some other tools.  Interesting fact: Rick Kelly and I have picked grapes in the same fields; I think there might have been a decade in between. But it was really funny talking with somebody with a very similar cultural point of view, having a very similar upbringing. Hope you enjoy this episode.  It was a lot of fun for me.


Hey, everybody.  I am here with Rick Kelly, Fuel Cycle.  Rick, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.  


I am thrilled to be here.


I promise you you’re not more excited than I am.  


OK, that’s going to be a tough competition, but I’ll let you have it for now.  Let’s see how this goes.


So, Day 1, you’re my very first interview.  So I’m going to do some special promotion around this particular episode.  Fuel Cycle, tell me what is going on there.


I mean there’s a lot of things going on.  So, obviously, we have a big background in research communities.


So, actually, let’s back up.  When did you guys start?


So, Fuel Cycle’s been around for 12 years now.  We were formerly known as

Passenger, and we branded it about three years ago to Fuel Cycle.  So, we’ve been around, known for our research communities. And then, over the past little while, we’ve launched like a product exchange where we integrate with a bunch of different partners and everything as well and really been repositioning ourselves as a market research cloud, centered around our research communities, with the idea being that we can integrate with just about any other technology provider in the research space and link that to the research communities and run just about any type of project you’d like.  


Got it, cool.  Give me an example of your favorite project you guys have worked on.


You know what?  There’s lots of really cool ones, but here’s a great example.  We just launched a feature called FC Live. And what we can do is we can do UX-testing on mobile devices.  So a research respondent can take a prototype that’s sent to him by a researcher, share that screen on the phone, capture the entire screen and walk-through experience whether it’s a online shopping experience or a new app or something like that.  All that video is captured and then it’s transcribed by Voxpopme and available for analysis in a few hours. So it’s really taken the idea of remote usability, testing and putting it on steroids.


That’s really cool.  So, how many companies are you guys connected to?          


So, right now we have about 100 clients, just got to a 100.  When I started five years ago, there were about 13.


Yeah, ‘cause I remember you guys way back when.  And then the rebrand, of course, I think, was absolutely brilliant.  Was the rationale like it was just an aged brand or did you feel like it was a strategic pivot?  And, if so, from what to what?


Yeah, so I think there was a new team there.  There were no more founders left in the organization.  And we kind of wanted to re-establish what it meant to be us in the marketplace.  And also, Passenger felt like a very passive brand, and none of us are passive people.  And so, Fuel Cycle just kind of denoted energy and kind of enthusiasm for what we were doing in general.


Now, I am from Fresno, California, and you are from, as it turns out, which is hilarious, Visalia, California, which is our neighbor.   


Yeah, about 40 minutes down the road.  


Yeah, that’s right.  I will say that Visalia has the coolest downtown of any Central Valley.


That’s true.  It’s very, very cool.  


Totally, totally.  So, tell me a little bit about your journey.  How in the world did you wind up in market research?


No idea, really.  I think that’s the same as everyone.  But I grew up on a farm in central California.  I left and didn’t go back for 15 years. So, when I graduated high school, I went to college in Idaho; I lived in Ireland for a couple years; I lived in Utah.  And after I finished grad school at Utah State, I ended up working in market research. And it’s really due to the recession. I had a job to go overseas and teach English.  And a few weeks before I was due to graduate, the company I was going to work for went under. And somebody introduced me to Bob Faison, who’s now at Dynata. I got hired pretty quickly.  


That’s awesome.  


So, that’s how I got into market research.


That’s so funny.  These two country bumpkins that wind up in technology, market research.


Yeah, exactly.


That is so funny, how the world works.  Yeah, totally. Yeah, I grew up picking grapes and the whole… turning trays and pruning.    


I’m sure we worked on some of the same vineyards.


It’s so funny.  So, what’s next for you guys?  You pivoted away from a passive brand, really community-oriented, or panel community, that’s what I meant by that.  Do you guys have your own panel assets?


We don’t.  Nothing proprietary today.  So nothing to announce there, but we continue to focus really on the unique value the community provides.  So, something like some really in-depth qualitative research things that we can do because we have private communities that you just can’t do with a general access panel.  So, while we do a lot of quantitative work – in fact, about 60% of the work done on our platform today is quantitative – we continue to emphasize some of the qualitative things like they mentioned:  the UX-testing, video, photos, things that are really, really different than just standard discussion boards and surveys.


Who’s your ideal customer?  Do they sit inside of a brand?  An agency?


So, there’s two types.  Really, at the end of the day, end-customers, large enterprises are really our sweet spot, probably your Fortune 1000, something along those lines.  We do work with a lot of resellers who resell our platform and provide services along side it too.


What kind of terms of trade?  What does that look like with you guys?  How do you monetize the relationship? I don’t mean that like gouge them.  How do you people engage…


What’s our business model?


Yeah, thank you.


So, we’re software as a service.  So, it’s SaaS. So, we do business in annual license plus.  So, minimum 12-month contracts, and many of them are multi-year.  And that’s kind of the primary business model overall.   


Got it.  So, market research has gone through a lot of transition in the last five years.  A lot.




The introduction of block chain and crypto-currency has entered into the space.  AI, of course, research automation, probably the number 1 buzz word I’ve heard as of late, even though it’s been around for a while.  In fact, I would argue that Decipher, the company I started, was actually just a research automation play as opposed to an online survey play, right?     


Yeah, in retrospect, it’s all automation.  


Right, totally, right.  It’s just by getting to the data, the insights faster.  So, what do you see, looking forward to the next five years, where’s your bets?  What are you seeing as going to be trending?


I think where we’re going to continue to place a lot of bets is really around analyzing a lot of unstructured data at scale. So, collecting unstructured insights, being able to process and give those things meaning will continue to be important.  So that really is an automation and an AI play because those are things you can do at scale with artificial intelligence. And also I think we’re going to see like a resurgence in the importance of user experience to research respondents. I think having easy-to-use tools and easy-to-use survey of platforms to participate in ends up being very, very important in the long run too and really affects data quality.       


That’s awesome.  You guys think you’re going to continue to play exclusively in the tool space or do you think you’re going to branch out and actually create your own panel?  The reason I bring it up is because there’s been a… I mean our entire careers you’ve heard about data quality, but it does seem like there’s been a big change.  TMR, the group scientists at Proctor & Gamble, MRMW two weeks ago she gave a presentation, claiming that a significant proportion – I might be misquoting it but I believe it was around 30% – of completes on some studies that they analyzed were determined as fraud.  Are you seeing that as problem that you might be able to solve in the context of where you’re sitting in the data ecosystem?


Yeah, that’s an interesting question.  Like I said, we have nothing to announce today, but ultimately like our value to our clients is dependent on the fidelity of data that we’re providing to them.  And so, where we feel like we can have an impact, if we can impact the quality and fidelity, then that’s something that we’re going to invest time and effort into.     


Understood.  Great, fantastic.  Rick with Fuel Cycle has been my guest on Happy Market Research Podcast.


Very happy to be here.  


Thanks so much.  Hey, listen, before I let you go, what do you think about the show? I know we’re just getting started.    


Well, I think it’s fantastic.  I love being in Austin. Over in Atlanta, I’m really glad they moved it here.  It’s a great city: lots of good energy and everything too. And it’s great to see all these tech companies out here – just explosion in this space.


Just over 1,200 this year, which, I think, almost a couple hundred more than last year in attendees, which is fantastic.  The exhibitor hall is completely packed to the gills even into the overflow areas. To your point, there’s a lot of good energy here.


When Qualtrics gets acquired for 8 billion dollars, I think that makes a lot of entrepreneurs think, “Hey, there’s something in this kind of customer data space.”  And I think we’ll see a lot more in the future.


They are the tail that is wagging the dog of market research right now.




Yeah, absolutely.  Alright, thanks for joining me.  


Thanks a lot, Jamin.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Ray Fischer – Aha! Online Research

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Ray Fischer, CEO and Founding Partner of Aha! Online Research.

Contact Ray Online:


Aha! Online Research


Ray Fischer, Aha! Online Research.  First off, he is the best voice in market research.  I wish it was me, but it’s not. For those that don’t know, Aha! Online is a qualitative platform that’s used by many large brands.  They support an asynchronous data collection approach for digital ethnography. Enjoy the episode. You can find his contact information in the show notes.


Ray Fischer, the CEO and founding partner of Aha!, also has been on the show, one of my favorite podcasts.  The best voice in market research. Seriously, 100%, it’s absolutely true. We’re live at IIeX here in Austin.  What do you think about the show so far?


Oh, it’s been great, great.  Great energy, new venue, which is super cool.  I think this is my fifth or sixth one. I’m not sure how many they’ve had, but I’ve been to all of them.  This one is really neat. Love Austin, different energy. Atlanta was great, but this is super, super cool.  


Yeah, it really is.  I agree about the energy point.  I call it the Coke versus Pepsi effect:  some of the executives or people on the floor have been a little bit apprehensive about the structure of it early in Day 1 ‘cause it felt a little bit separated.  But everybody in Day 2 has been excited about the show floor and the interactions that they’re getting and value, value, value.


Some people aren’t open to change.  You know how that goes.


Are we in market research still?


You’ll always find a complainer, but “no,” it’s awesome. You got to make it what it is, but it is an amazing venue.    




Look at the walls behind you.  And it’s just the color popping out.  I mean that’s emblematic of the energy in this place.         


I got in big trouble actually because I had placed my…  I have a large case for the equipment, and so I had placed the Penquin case by the…  Anyway, I got in big trouble for it. “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize it was actually art.”  It’s legit art.


It’s definitely.  Don’t scrape yourself on it either; it’s 3D.


So, Aha!, what’s going on, man?


I’ve been busy as heck.  It’s really… Last year I think we talked, somewhere near the end of last year.  We had a great year last year. This year we’re off to a rip-roaring start. We’re thrilled.  We’re launching new activities, new things, kind of spreading the word on online qual. Remarkedly, everyone has not yet tried online qual.  So there’s still a lot of untapped territory out there. We’re working to spread the good word and, obviously, spread our own product word. But a lot of big stuff happening in the whole customer experience world.  The video world has changed quite a bit; I think we might have touched on that before, but. All the connectivity: I’m excited about 4G going to 5G on the mobile scene because this is going to increase uploads speeds from respondents with video and pictures, which are so important to the whole online experience and the online mobile experience.    


There’s a lot you just said.  And I just want to take a step back because probably some of our audience isn’t familiar with exactly what it is that Aha! does.  So, if you could just give me like the high-level overview, not too in the weeds, so that everybody can like level set with where you guys fit in the market research ecosystem.   


We’re an online qualitative platform.  We do what we call asynchronous approach, which means people come in usually on a multi-day to, let’s say, up to a year-long study, where they come in at their convenience on a set schedule.  Most studies usually run four or five days in length. People come in for 30 to 45 minutes and do a set series of activities; some of those are on their computer; some of those can be done on a laptop, tablet, whatever.  And some of that is mobile; so, there may be store missions involved or maybe diary entries where you take it moment in time where, let’s say, if you’re doing a snacking study, every time you have a snack, you might do a little video recording, maybe answer a couple of open-ends, maybe a closed-end about how satisfying that particular event was and make those diary entries.  So it’s a real connected, emotional, and projective-type approach to getting close to how consumers think, act, and feel.


Got it.  So, this is part of my ongoing thesis in market research as I’m 48 years old now, which is not like the pinnacle of knowledge, but I’m smarter than I was when I was 28.


Yes, agreed.  We all get there.    


Thankfully in some ways.  Really what market research is is a conversation at scale.  You know small companies like Mom and Pop retail, you probably don’t need to do market research ‘cause you know the 100 people that are frequenting your establishment in a day, right?  You develop that rapport. But, once you get into two stores and thousands of customers, it’s impossible to actually keep your finger on the pulse of the customer. And now, all of a sudden, in order to facilitate that conversation, market research is employed, which is largely a logistical exercise of facilitating a conversation at scale.  Now, this is what’s really interesting for me is in the 50s when research really started with political polling specifically, surveys became the dominant form for understanding consumer sentiment and then qualitative, of course, had a meaningful role in informing the quant. Now what’s happening is the tools are so sophisticated (AI, machine learning, just getting better at figuring out technology) you can actually conduct qualitative research at scale, like you said, asynchronously and get, not just the A, B test of “This is greater than that,” which comes out of a survey, but you can start digesting that information understand the true “why” and the drivers of the consumer.  So, to that end, are you seeing a lift in qual as just a broader application, not a trump on quant (I’m not trying to say that necessarily) but are you seeing it just kind of gaining overall share in the market research…?


Yeah, that’s a great question.  I think what I’m seeing, Jamin, is you’ve got people out there…  Obviously, quant is always going to be there, but what’s happened with qual that’s giving it gains is you’ve got…  Remember focus groups, of course. We’ve all been in them, done them, watched them, etc. Now, you’ve got the ability to be with everybody out in their real lives through technologies.  You’ve got video and picture capability. Everyone has a smart phone around the world. So we’ve gone from what you might gain in a 90-minute focus group; we’re now able to spend a couple hours with people over, let’s say, four days.  So, let’s say, one moderator can communicate, as you said, at scale and talk to 50 people for 30 to 45 minutes a day, not necessarily talking to them directly but through great lines of questioning, great projective activities, video exercises, store tours, etc.  I think what’s happened is we’ve gone from this eight people in a focus-group room and everybody has to travel to Atlanta to go watch it from behind a mirror. And it’s kind of a stilted environment: people at little bit, you know, they’re on stage. Now, they’re able to do this stuff in the comfort of their own homes, walking through the store by themselves; plus, people have gotten in this era of social media and camera usage; people are real comfortable in front of cameras, taking pictures of themselves.  We’re all kind of trained actors in a way but, obviously, we don’t want anyone acting when they share information with us, but they’re so much more comfortable and natural in these environments to be able to do things like share what kind of underwear they wear and why they buy it or what kind of personal care products they use, what kind of groceries they buy. So it’s just changed the game completely. So it’s a technology-driven evolution.


Exactly.  With respect to your customers, are you guys…  Obviously, a technology platform, are you also adding in the analytics and engagement with the customer post or is it…?    


Yeah, there’s definitely probing that goes on throughout a study.  So that’s usually human-driven although we’re touching into the AI zone of that and I know other competitors are doing the same.  One thing that I don’t want to do at this point in time is that qual is so human that the minute we put a chatbot into a study and they ask a question that isn’t really completely perfect and doesn’t feel like a human, they’ll know it’s a chatbot, and the relationship is over ‘cause it’s really about the human touch.  

Now, we truly try to make moderators connect with respondents, do a video before they launch a study so that when people come in, they actually know who the moderator is.  They watch a little one- or two-minute video about who they are, what their job is and what the respondent’s job is going to be. And I even have moderators who do that every day.  They do a quick one-minute video, saying who they are, here’s what we’re doing today, here’s what I need you to do, and have a great day. So the minute a bot comes in and doesn’t fire an appropriately triggered question, somebody’s going to know it’s a machine and not a person.  So, it will get to the point where I think you almost can’t tell the difference; it’ll probably get there pretty quickly. Right now, we’re treading lightly in that area and doing some basic AI-driven questions.


Better to be over-sensitive to that because to your point, market research is in a lot of ways because it’s being done so much now, it’s an extension of a brand.  And so, if a person has a bad experience in a market research study, that actually reflects negatively on the overall brand that is commissioning that project. So you really got to be cognizant of that and error on the side of creating a great customer experience even in context of research as opposed to it being the other direction it used to be, which was “Screw you.  You’re going to take my 30-minute survey, non-mobile friendly, 1,000 variable, 10-point rating scale…” You really got to start thinking about that as a researcher.


Oh, absolutely.  In “Bet Your AI,” I question about…  Like there are chatbots that are doing some automated probing and things like that.  But the other thing is on the back-end, that’s where the opportunity is with the text analytics stuff.  There’s several players here; some of them I’ve know like OdinAnswers; I’ve known Tom for seven or eight years, I think.  And he’s been doing this stuff in the embryonic days of it.




And now it’s coming into its own at this point in time. And there’s other competitors like to him like, I think it’s Rob Key with Converseon.  Really cool tools he’s got there too. So, there’s players out there that are trying to get to the point where we can break this data down quickly.  That’s always been the toughest part of being a qualitative market researcher. If you do, let’s say a five-day study or a year-long study and you have 100 people or 50 people or whatever it might be  


…analytic scale for qual’s hard.


You got…  You have to break all that data down yourself.  And, Jamin, you come from this space too and you probably had to write reports that were painful to do.  You know I was talking to Jim Bryson today, which was really funny. He said somebody begged him to moderate some focus groups, which he’d done for 25 years.  He did them a couple of weeks ago, and he said the most brutal part of it is writing the report, which I agree with 100%. I haven’t done one in seven years, and I don’t think I can write a report.  It would be so painful.


You have to write that report on the plane flight after every…  You know what I’m saying. Every minute you’re away from the data, the less visceral the connection is to the outcome and you really start losing the power


That is kind of the beauty of the online stuff is it’s always there for you to analyze, but again, if you can break that data down quicker.  One of my partners, Jim White, we always talk about “data wrangling,” and what are the best ways to help manage the data on the qual side. And a lot of times what he uses and he preaches this is to use a trigger quant question that helps him at least sort the data.  “Tell me what would you rate this idea,” or “How did you feel about that experience? 1 to 5 or 1 to 10?” So, he can separate the 1s from the 10s and the 1s from the 5s and really look at the polar opposites.


Totally.  Find some context for the answers.


Exactly, and they get context.  


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


They could get me on email:  RayF@Ahaonlineresearch.com.  That’s a mouthful, but apparently my marketing guy convinced me that was great SCO.  So…


It is pretty good SCO.


So, here we go.  And my phone number is 810-599-9440, website – Ahaonlineresearch.com.


And we’ll include all that information in the show notes.  As always, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d take the time to screenshot this episode, share it on your social media, and whatever platform you’re listening and consuming this content in, please take the time (one minute it will take you) to provide us a rating.  It makes ALL the difference in the world and is really a way for us to help validate content like this and get it into more insights professionals’ hands.

Ray, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


Jamin, thanks so much.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Marc Macellaio – Fuel Cycle

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Marc Macellaio, Vice President of Sales at Fuel Cycle.

Contact Marc Online:


Fuel Cycle


Marc Macellaio, Fuel Cycle.  This is the second interview I did on site at IIeX with Fuel Cycle.  Fuel Cycle is a marketing research cloud platform that allows you… They have their own set of solutions and also you can plug in some external tools that you might have as well in your research portfolio.  You know for me, this is probably one of the more interesting businesses. When I think about my next thing, I definitely feel like there’s an element of their API-driven marketplace yadi-yadi-yada that is real interesting.  But I’d encourage you to think about the last 12 years that they’ve been in business: how they have evolved and stayed, not just relevant, but actually move more, more towards the cutting edge of technology and adding value to our ecosystem.  Enjoy.


I am sitting here with the head of sales, Marc, at Fuel Cycle.  Marc, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.   


Thanks for having me.  Really appreciate it.


Alright, cool, man.  What do you think about the show?  IIeX, this is Day 3. I’m a little tired


I’m a little tired, but we’re having a blast.  A lot of energy and really innovative tools out there.


You guys have a nice presence in the North Hall, I think, or South Hall.


Yeah, one of the two.  The one with the big, orange pillows in the couches, everything, yeah.  Can’t miss us.


Right, totally.  So, were you at last year’s IIex?  


I was.       


What do you think about the difference in venues?          


I love this venue.  Obviously, it’s larger, more space.  I think more energy. I mean it’s easier to get around and a…  The last year just getting too large, I guess, people kind of getting shoved out.  So this has been great.


Have you been able to attend any sessions?


A handful of sessions, yeah.  Mainly, I’m kind of working the room, working the booth, that kind of thing.  But, yeah, a lot of really good information around and talks around AI and sort of what’s next around market research.  So really cool.


So, let’s talk about Fuel Cycle.  You guys are a, from my understanding, a comprehensive, end-to-end research technology platform that allows community management and then you also have your own tools for conducting qualitative research.  Is that right?


That’s correct, yep.


And then, in addition to that, you have the capacity through your API’s to interact with other third-party tools like Voxpopme or SurveyGizmo or whatever.


Typically, when people work with us, they’ll say, “Hey, we want to build a community.”  And so, we’ll put together a community that allows them to do both the qualitative – discussion boards, diary studies, live chats, video IDI’s, video focus groups (mobile, by the way).  But also, it comes with our SurveyGizmo partner Quant Solutions. So, it allows them to do again the quant and the qual and connect all the data in one community environment, right?


Got it.  It makes a lot of sense to me.  So, how long have you guys been working with SurveyGizmo?


Last probably three to four years now.  


OK, good.  And how long have you been around?  ‘Cause you’ve really been popping for the last two years.  I didn’t hear a lot about you before.


You know about four or five years ago, we revamped our whole platform, calling it really Fuel Cycle, and it’s really changed the game.  It’s no longer a community; we’ve moved in to the research cloud. So, as you said before, we have this community environment where they can do the quant and the qual.  We also plug into Qualtrics and other leading survey tools as well, but it also then takes us to the level where we can plug in these other great innovative tools like a Voxpopme and like a Consensus Point, like a Protobrand, System 1 Research, right. Any of these innovative tools, or anytime the client wants to pull these in, they can.  And all the data is all housed in the same environment.


Ah, that’s beautiful.  Super simple.


Super simple, super easy, all connected, giving people the ability to quick, iterative research but also allowing them to do that longitudinal research that they love as well too.  And not only talking to 300 people, we can talk to 50,000 people in one community, segmented and based on who the client wants to talk to.


Do you do the recruiting for those panels or do you use third-party providers like a Dynata or what have you?


We do.  We actually do both.  So, some of our clients want to talk to their own customers; we’ll use customer lists.  So we can actually connect to their customer lists as well through API. And then also, a lot of clients want to talk to sort of their non-customers, right?  “How can I be targeting? How do I target this new audience like a Millennial, like a GenZ”? And we can go to third-party panel providers to recruit them.  


Awesome.  That’s really cool.  So, I’m chairing a track, unfortunately.  So I’m going to have to jump in just a second.  But, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


Yeah, just reach out to www.fuelcycle.com.  F U E L C Y C L E. com.  Yeah, and request a demo, or give us a call.


Awesome, man.  Well, thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.


I appreciate it.  This has been great.


Hey, listen, if you guys are tuning in, please take the time, screenshot this episode, share it with your friends and family.  As always, if you can provide a rating on the platform of your choice, it goes a l-o-n-g ways in helping other people like you find this valuable content.  Have a wonderful rest of your day.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Manish Mittal – Course5

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Manish Mittal, Senior Vice President – Business Head at Course5.

Contact Manish Online:




Manish Mittal and I basically grew up together in the market research space.  He started a company called Cross-Tab way back when. It’s now been rebranded into Course5.  He’s going to talk about the three pillars of Course5 and the evolution and how he has been able and his team has been able to drive successfully year-over-year growth.  They’re are now over 1,000 people, continue to make pivots and major changes, and continue to be disruptive and add a lot of value to market research professionals. Enjoy.   


So, my guest today is Manish with Course5, course5i.com, if you’re looking for them.  Tell me a little bit about your business.


Right, I think we have a slightly diverse kind of a business, if I have to bracket it into three parts of that business.  So, one is what we call a market research AI business. I lead that business. Then there is a digital analytics business.  And then we have what we call as market intelligence business. Those are the three businesses. We started with a company called Cross-Tab, which was more of a market research operations.  Then we also delved into this more of a market intelligence kind of a business by the name Blueocean Market Intelligence. Recently, a year back, we merged the two businesses and we called it Course5i.  And the whole idea of naming this as Course5 is the fifth course, which is the future is what we’re trying to help the clients with.


I think that’s really clever.  I was checking out your website earlier today.  And Cross-Tab, I was actually a fan of back in the early days.  You guys started (I might be misremembering) but I want to say it was around like 2004 or 2003, maybe even.


Yeah, I think 2001, 2002 when we started.  You’re two off.


Then I remember you guys in the trade show circuits, of course.  It was a very interesting value prop. And I think it’s really smart how you have evolved your business to accommodate the changes in the market research space, which a lot of firms don’t actually successfully navigate those pivots.  Talk to me about from Cross-Tab to now Course5, where you’re plotting the future. I mean that’s a BIG difference, right? What is one of the big challenges that the company has faced going through that transition?


I think one of the biggest challenges has been about the change itself.  We are almost 1,000 people employed in the company. And I think there is a huge amount of inertia.  You have been doing a certain way all these years, and now the change you want to bring in. So when we are trying to move in that direction, maybe you want to bring in that digital transformation in any piece of our business and also in the research piece of business.  So, the biggest, the hardest of the change are both internal as well as external. The team itself, while they’re excited, but at the same time, there is a question in terms of, “Is it going to be the next thing?”, “Is it the right approach?” And the same with the clients were used to a certain style of dealing with the organization.  And they’re feeling that kind of a change. In many cases, they are very welcoming; they’re very excited but, I think, as an industry, the market research industry, if you look at the genesis of this industry, it has been pretty slow in terms of adoption of that kind of a change. I think that’s what we are seeing, but I think we are not losing out.  I think we believe that’s the future. And we are hanging on to that, and I think it’s just a matter of time and people will start appreciating and accepting it.


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  Well, congratulations on your success.  A thousand: that’s a big number; that’s a huge number.  How have you guys maintained growth over the decades?


I think two things.  One, of course, in the same set of business, one we call scaling and one we call growth.  How we have scaled in the same piece of business is just one way to look at it. And we have never been too hungry in terms of adding too many clients to the portfolio.  Can we go deep into the same set of? So that’s more scaling. And growth has been in terms of extension of our business. We are not really wanting to diversify from a research to something very random and something which is off-beat.  But in the same space can we identify “spaces,” which we think are niche, as well there is a humongous amount of opportunity. And we want to bring in that growth from that perspective. So, I think that those are the two things which we have done, I believe, successfully.  There have been failures in the past, but I think we have learned from those failures. And we have been also smart in cutting down our losses. It’s not that we invest something and we want to unnecessarily stick with that. If we realize that it’s not the great thing we want to really pursue any further, we’ll cut down on that and focus on areas where we think that kind of growth and scaling happen.      


Got it.  That makes a lot of sense.  So, your sales force, about how big is it?  


We kind of define our sales force as hunters and farmers.  The farmers are more classified as account managers, and the hunters are more classified as the sales.  In U.S. itself we will have more than 15 people in the sales team and across the globe put together around 30 of them.  So that’s the size of the sales team. And, of course, I’m not counting myself as a sales person but I’m also playing that kind of a role.     


What advice would…  ‘cause you have a lot of early stage zero to maybe a million dollars of revenue on the floor right now, like a lot.  What advice would you give those entrepreneurs?


If I’m getting it correct, I find a lot of startups that I’m seeing is a startups which are trying to bring in newer spaces, getting into the newer spaces and bringing in the semblance of technology or the artificial intelligence or those kinds of things.  And we ourselves are trying to dive into that space fairly, fairly aggressively. I have been in the research industry for many, many years. And, as an industry, we’ve taken a lot of pride in terms of providing that consultancy, understanding of that domain, really making sense out of that kind of data to our customers.  And when we’re trying to make that big change by bringing in those new technology interventions, I think we have to understand two or three things: One – not everything can be replaced by technology. So we need to really pick out our battle where see that AI or technology can really make that kind of difference.

Secondly, there has to be a balance of people:  the real world, the people, and the technology part of it.  We should not really push to replace everything with technology because there will be humongous amount of resistance to that because the research world has dealt very differently than maybe the analytics world or the other kind of world.  So I think those are the two or three pieces of advice I would give. Pick your battle and don’t try and replace everything and too fast because there’s a higher chance of you being pushed back than you being accepted in the marketplace.   


This is a really important point that I think the audience needs to tune in to.  I heard this from a number of interviews at the brand level. And what they’re not looking for is a new technology.  What they’re really looking for is a new partner that can help solve their business problems and then, in that partnership, it isn’t just about like a one-trick pony where you meet some niche need.  It’s really about having a depth of connection to that business so that when you deliver an insight or empower an insight, there’s an overall context to that insight, to the problems of the business is facing also at that point in time so that you can really frame the answer, the insight in a way that’s meaningful and will drive change in the organization.  


Absolutely.  And, in fact, if I talk very briefly about some of the things which we are trying to do…


That’d be great.


For example, on the very operations sides of things, we realized over the years, it’s extremely a cost factor.  The entire operations is a cost to the organization. There’s no greater value from an organization. And it has been a lot driven by how cheaper can you get, how faster can you get.  And through a normal intervention, you’ll hit the ceiling; you can’t go any further. And that’s where we’re trying to bring the power of AI. Can we really use that power of AI to make that huge change.  By any stretch of imagination, the entire market research operation, barring the sample collection, is an 8 to 10-billion-dollar industry. That’s humongous. If I’m able to bring in a cost efficiency of even 10%, that’s a lot of money on the table.       


Lot of money.


And that only adds to your bottom line and the speed to market.  Because there is better speed to market, now the entire corporation world is comparing your delivery to the alternative world.  “They can deliver in two-days’ time; you still take two weeks of time.” If I can really cut down on that time as well as other costs, that will give a new life to the entire MR world.  And that is one of the interventions that we are doing.   

Second intervention is I believe the primary research world is all about the perishable things.  You consume and then you throw that data. Can we use all of that knowledge which we have kind of accumulated over the years and make a far superior use of that?  For example, we launched [unclear] optimization, which is using a lot of your past creative and the consumer data, do a meta-analysis to say how you can be smarter and better in the future.  So I think you have to again identify those areas where you can make a real change. And again, the change is not replacing the existing one but kind of enhancing to that particular set.


Love that.  Super interesting.  Yeah, kind of going all the back to the beginning of our conversation…  When I think about growth, I think about like corporate growth; I think about building a bridge of “I’m here, and I want to be there.”  And there are six pillars that I use to achieve growth, two of which are new customer acquisition, which from a blank perspective, should be about 10%, maybe 20%.  But your existing customer base should represent a material gain for about 80% of that growth. And so, I think that… I was just talking with another CEO earlier (I won’t mention their name because this is your episode) but I thought it was really interesting that their seeing a tremendous tick-up in their current customer base.  And I think that goes to your strengths. If you can just deliver value to the customer in the context of their business problems, whether it’s budgetary constraints or timing constraints or quality constraints or innovation constraints, then you’re going to win in the long term.


Absolutely, absolutely.  And again I think, as I started by saying that we have to pick our battle.  We cannot be best in everything. What is our strength? How can we augment that with some kind of emerging possibilities?  And some of the niche areas where we can really play and add value.


Do you use or leverage other partners like maybe even some of the smaller companies here for your customers or do you usually build up the tech yourselves?


Not really.  So again, again, the whole idea is we don’t want to be the tech giants of the technical… call it as a horizontal versus vertical.  Verticals are the business problems you’re trying to solve, and the horizontals are those tech you trying to [unclear]. We are actually using a lot of those tech companies who have built sophisticated engines, but we are there to solve the business problem.  We use the technology, add to the business relevance, and then place it in the marketplace. Some of the technology, we, of course, build in-house, but not everything and anything.


Got it.  So, if a company like brand or agency has particular technology that they like a lot, they could leverage you guys to partner with them?


Oh, absolutely.  That’s the whole idea.  


Got it, got it.  Manish, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


They can reach out to me on my mail ID which is manish.mittal@course5i.com.  I think that’s the best way; I’m always available on that.


Perfect, and that’ll be in the show notes as well.  


Awesome.  Thanks, Jamin.  Thanks for your lovely discussion.


Enjoy the rest of the show.  Thanks so much.


Thanks, Jamin.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Laura Drews Freund – Cranbrook Search Consultants

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Laura Drews Freund, CEO and Executive Search Consultant at Cranbrook Search Consultants.

Contact Laura Online:


Cranbrook Search Consultants


There’s been a ton of consolidation in the market research space over the last year.  Dynata has done a number of acquisitions. There’s been quite a few others. Just follow MR web if you don’t know what’s happening.  All those individuals that have been displaced need jobs and, at the same time, one of the No. 1 things I hear from insights professionals inside of brands is that they’re looking to hire.  Laura with Cranbrook Search Consultants is a really good contact for you to make if you are looking for a job or you’re looking to place somebody. In her interview, we talk about tips and tricks for both finding good talent as well as making yourself very attractive for prospective hires.  So, I hope you find value here. As always, you can find her contact information in the show notes.


Cranbrook Search Consultants.  I’m here with the CEO, Laura. How are you today?


I’m doing very well.  Anxious to get downstairs.  It’s actually a pretty good setup this year: there’s multiple, separate rooms; excellent food as usual; some charging stations.  So I like the setup so far.


Yeah, I like it too.  You know they’ve got just over 100 additional participants in this year’s show versus last year, which was bursting at the seams, which I think is a big deal because it was in Atlanta historically and this is the first year they moved out of that market, which usually you’d see sort of a decrease in attendance, I would think.  


Right.  I think because they moved it out of that one in Georgia, it probably encouraged people because remember there was just that one hallway that had all the booths.


I do, yeah.  You could barely move.


Yes, I thought that was too crowded.    


Yeah, it was super…  It had the feeling of a house party.


Which isn’t bad.      


No, it’s not.  I know. I kind of liked it, to be honest, but …         


We’re kind of having a party here.  


I agree.


This is a party.


Totally.  So, you’ve been in the market research space for quite a while.




Tell me a little bit about what it is that you guys do.


So, we hire full-time, permanent professionals within the market research space.  So it can go pretty much business developers; it can be more C-level; and, generally, I would say director on up.  People don’t usually come to us for, say, analyst-level roles unless there’s ten that they need immediately.   


So it’s like scale-type thing, right, yeah, totally.  There’s a couple of different matchmaker-type service companies inside of our space, as you know.  And, of course, you know who all of them are. What is sort of the point of differentiation?


We have a value prop that I think is kind of unique.  First of all, my business partner, Matt O’Mara, was a researcher; so, he really talks the talk.


Understands the… yep.


And so, if there’s some probing that we need to do to really qualify the job, he knows how to get there from a research perspective.  So, he’s a researcher turned recruiter. I have been a market research recruiter since Day 1. I’ve never recruited for like cell phone sales people or anything like that.  So, I started out as an outside recruiter at an external firm. Then I worked for TNS for five years. Then I was recruited by GFK. So, I worked at GFK for a couple years and then back at Kantar for another couple of years.  So this is really all that I’ve done.


I mean from a journey perspective, you’re uniquely positioned to have the ears of all the major players and what sort of openings exist.  I’ve never used a recruiter, but I’ve always been fascinated with… I have from hiring people but never on the other side of it. What does that journey look like for somebody?  At what point do they start enlisting the relationship? And then, what kind of time frames are around that?     


So, usually we hear from clients when they’re kind of at their wits’ end if it’s the first time we’ve ever worked with them.  They’re exhausted. You know they’ve posted a job on LinkedIn and they’re getting massive amounts of resumes, and none of them are even close to what they need.  So the first time that we meet a client, it’s usually because they’re exhausted and beat up. And they thought they could do it. You know post a job on LinkedIn and read some resumes and hire someone.  How much easier can it be?


Right, exactly.  


That’s a tough one.  So we kind of ease them into it slowly.  We let them know that we’re here to save them time.  So our job isn’t to further congest their inbox with spraying and praying, multiple resumes.  Our job is to send them a couple that are what we think dead-on. And that seems to be like a bite of a York Peppermint Patty for them.  It’s so refreshing.


Good reference.


Thank you, in case we have any sponsors out there.  That’s always fun to kind of ease somebody’s burden that way for a first timer.  And then, I would say, after that business developers are always difficult for companies to find.  Business developers, they’re just tough for companies to recruit on their own because… multiple reasons.  It’s hard to really assess a business developer on paper. It’s really tough. And it takes some time because, as soon as you find one, they’re gone.  Business developers do not last on the market long. So there’s multiple reasons why people come to us.


What about from the other vantage point of like the business development person or executive?  Do you do executive placement as well?




Executive.  At what point should they be thinking about building a relationship with you?


Now.  Yesterday.


So, it isn’t necessary that they even have to be looking at this particular point in time?


Oh, right.  And that’s kind of interesting to get that across at conferences, right?  I’ve known some of these people here for a very long time, and I’ve had relationships with them.  So when I go up to their booth to say, “Hello,” I’m saying “Hello” as a person.   




But I am still a recruiter.  Maybe their boss is there, or they get a little nervous because they may think that I’m there to recruit them.  I’m just here to continue the relationships. It’s funny I feel like I’ve seen some of these people grow up. I’m the same age but…


Me too.  I’m definitely frozen in time.  


Right, right.  It’s just so fun to just watch people and go, “Oh, where are you now?”  “Oh, you moved there. That’s great. I saw it on LinkedIn.” It’s just a long-term relationship.  So they don’t have to be looking now. Even for the clients, they don’t have to have any recruiting needs now.  It’s just to make that connection long term.


Got it.  It makes a lot of sense.  And if somebody is interested in transitioning, what sort of time frame (I’m not asking for myself), what sort of time frame does that usually look like with you guys?   


Well, so, from a candidate perspective, it depends on if they fit the jobs that we have open.  So that’s sometimes difficult. Say, people get laid off; multiple people get laid off. They will bombard us because they should, but if we only have a certain set of jobs and they don’t fit that job right now, we can only keep them on our radar screen or put them in our database.  But, if they match what we have open, it depends on the client, but I don’t know if you can tell right now, I kind of keep things going. [She snaps her fingers.]


I definitely I’m getting that vibe from you.


I need things now.  I go right for the frosting on the cupcakes.  So I would say start-to-finish, I mean it shouldn’t take more than a month.  






Cranbrook, sorry.  


Crankbook, actually, would be a fantastic name.  


Cranbrook, that would be good.  Cranbrook, how did you guys come up with that name?  


Not mine.  My business partner, Matt O’Mara, lives near a private school in Michigan called Cranbrook


Alright, there you go.


He thought it was kind of cool.  So he came up with that name.


Perfect.  Laura, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  


Oh, wait.


Oh, wait, there’s more.


Yeah, now I get to ask you a question.


Oh, OK, got it.  This is fun


Let’s see. Uh, what are your three favorite words?


Oh, my three favorite words.


Oh, you know.  Have you been asked this question?


Never.  “Unflappable…”


Oh, that’s a good one.


…is one of my favorite words.  Definitely, “green.”


“Green?”   “Green?”


And probably, F***, but I’m trying to say it less.  So, that’s like part of my …


We can swear on this show?


Well, I mean I can; you can too.  So, yeah, that’s my framework of three favorite words.


I didn’t know that we could swear because [that totally changes the rules here because that is my No. 1 favorite word.  You get so much energy out.


When I was in high school, never forget.  This was more than a few years ago. I was a sophomore and I was sitting in a math class.  And a student came in. They used students to kind of like communicate in between classrooms so that administrative would send a student to talk to somebody.  I don’t know, jeez, might have been smoke signals. I sound so old now. So, they send this student in and the student said something to the effect of: “The f*** administrator wants a f*** kid to give you this f*** thing to…” Anyway, and so, he left, and the teacher just sat there and busts up laughing and goes:  “That was a perfect illustration of how many times or how many ways you could use one word.”


Right.  Noun, verb…       


Yeah, adjective. It was hilarious.  Anyway, yeah, it’s definitely been a word that…  


I love that.  So, what about your three least favorite, the words you can’t handle hearing?  It gives you the shivers.


Um, so “can’t” is a huge word for me that I’m not a fan of.


Because of how it sounds or what it means?


“Can’t” for me is like this negative darkness.  Totally, not my favorite, for sure. Other words I don’t like…   Umm, that’d be interesting. I don’t know. I’ve never actually thought about it.


I’ll tell you mine.  


Tell me.


I hate the word “pus.”  


Ew, that is a good word to hate.


I hate everything about it.  I hate the word “phlegm.”  


OK, I agree.  I’m with you. I feel terrified that you’re going to have three.


“Moist” doesn’t bother me like it bothers some people, but some people can’t stand the word “moist.”  But I can’t stand the word “succulent.”




“Succulent”, like a plant.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Plant, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Yeah, even though I like the word “succubus.”


“Succubus,”  which I don’t know what that means.


It’s a female creature.


Oh, it’s a female creature with tail and horns.


Yes, you’re… Yes.


She has a whip and will take your soul.




Something to the effect.  My gosh, you’re bringing me back now to my 80s D-and-D days.




Laura, if anyone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


LinkedIn would be fantastic, but email would be better.  So it’s Laura@cranbrook.search.com.


That’s C R A N B R O O K.com






You got it!


OK, we’ll include that in the show notes.  Thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  Have a great rest of your show.


Thank you so much.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Kerry Edelstein – Research Narrative

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Kerry Edelstein, President and Founder of Research Narrative.

Contact Kerry Online:


Research Narrative


Kerry Edelstein, Research Narrative, Live with me at IIEX on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  We do a real quick but yet deep dive in what Research Narrative does. They’re a full-service market research agency.  But enough from me, we’ll let you hear from her.


I’m here with Kerry Edelstein.


That’s correct.  


Research Narrative.


Hello, happy to be here.


Yep.  Happy Market Research Podcast.  We are Day 1 of IIEX in Austin. What do you think?


I literally just arrived, like ten minutes ago.  Gosh, there’s got to be easily like 100 different companies in the research technology space to go look at, and I maybe know a dozen of them.  I’m super excited to check out what’s here and see all the innovative ideas. I came of age in market research as we were making the transition from telephone to online research; so, I love seeing new and cool things and thinking about how we can integrate that into our business.  I’m excited.


Yeah, for sure.  Well, you guys have been around for quite a while.  


Yeah, we’re going to hitting our eight-year anniversary this fall, which is pretty exciting.  It feels like it was just yesterday that we started it but I’m like, “Wow, we’re actually approaching a decade pretty soon.”  It goes fast.


It’s a big milestone, honestly.  


It is.       


You know the…  So, one of the questions that I ask in the regular podcast interviews that we do is “What is one of the biggest challenges in market research that you face today?”  And usually these are like heads of insights and brands or whatever. So, there’s two things I hear. One of those things, which is very regular, is storytelling. And connecting that to your company’s name, Research Narrative, I think is super interesting, right?              


And not an accident.  That’s actually why we (1) called in that and (2) came up with the philosophy that we did, which is that…  I was actually working in an online video company, running research and analytics before I started Research Narrative, and this was the number 1 challenge we had.  It’s just literally too much data and not enough people to make sense of what it means and to break it down into a narrative that had business implications and action steps associated with it.  And so, we started this mantra at that job of research has to tell a story. Otherwise, why are we doing this? And so, when I left that job, I thought there needs to be a company whose primary focus is making sure that the research that we’re doing is telling a story.  That has to include analytics as well; it can’t just include consumer insights anymore. The two have become married. So the genesis of RN was actually intentionally a hybrid of data and story from the outset.


Of course, we got interrupted by Joaquim Bretcha, one of my good friends.   


Hello, we’re posing for a picture.


Yea, President of ESOMAR.  Sir, how are you today?

[02:43] – [Joaquim in background]

Hello, nice seeing you.


Hi, nice to meet you and see you.


Research Narrative.


Hi, we’re just talking about storytelling with data.  

[02:51] [Joaquim]



So, this guy is actually a master storyteller, but this is not about him right now.  This is about you.

[02:58] [Joaquim]

This is a very nice spot, by the way.


Thank you very much.  Yeah, I feel very fortunate.  So, let’s see, got to get the train back on the rails.    


So the genesis of Research Narrative was literally this idea that the biggest challenge at that point in time, which was about eight years ago, was how do we take the increasing volume of research and data that’s coming out.  And we specialize in media as a company. So, in the digital media space, it was particularly epic that this change was happening. How do we deal with that and make sure that we’re not just going too far down the data engineering path without making sense of what it all means?    


Yeah, I love that.  So, where’s your sweet spot right now in the marketplace?  Where do guys – like when you’re pitching this particular thing or this particular way – it’s just like the customer has to buy?   


Well, there’s a sweet spot from the kinds of clients we serve, and then there’s a sweet spot from the work we do.   


Tell me about both.


In terms of the kinds of clients we serve, I think we do best at the intersection of media and entertainment and innovation.  So our earliest clients were companies like Netflix and Amazon Studios. We’re working with a division of Verizon that’s launching a new mobile company.  So, I love working with companies that look at the history of what they’re doing and recognize the heritage and the best practices in their space but are trying to innovate on top of that.  That’s my favorite kind of company to work with. I don’t think I would say it’s disruption; I think disruption can be just disruptive without being innovative or progressive. But I like companies that are trying to make things better and more innovative without losing sight of what works historically.  So that’s kind of our sweet spot is media meets innovation.

And then as a service provider, we set at the intersection of consumer insights and strategic advisory.  So, the consumer insights part is traditional market research, data collection, all that kind of stuff. And then the strategic advisory is the story time part:  What are we going to do with this? How do we roll it out? What does this mean for your organization? How do you do everything from knowledge management to communication and everything in between.  So we try to sit at the intersection of those two things.


That’s super interesting.  


Yeah, I hope so.  I like to think so, but I’m biased.  


This is the innovation conference, right?  Have you – and I know it’s just Day 1 – have you seen anything that’s like popping up as particularly interesting right now?


Not yet ‘cause I literally just walked in the door about 15 minutes ago.  I know I wish I had that kind of prescient behavior that I could just know that that’s the company.  No, I think actually what impresses me is how long I’ve been at this and how few companies I recognize.  That just tells you… I mean that’s probably the biggest change taking place is there so many new companies out there offering unique kinds of data collection and my job is to go through and vet that:  Which of these make sense for our business? And which of these are right fit for the clients, the kind of clients that we work with? So, I’m excited actually to walk the trade show floor and see what’s out there.  Yeah, I love that.


You guys have a podcast.  


We do.  We just launched it today.  And that is that.


Today.  It’s perfect.  It is perfect. Tell me about the podcast.


So, it’s called The Thinkerry, which is a play on my name.  It’s Thinkerry, with two r’s and my name is Kerry. A little personal branding needs discussion.  And it actually started out… I have a very entertaining team at my company, at Research Narrative.  And we would get on these weekly calls to talk about our blog and social media and what we wanted to do.  And our calls would be really entertaining and interesting in and of themselves. And we thought, “We should be recording these.  Like this is just an interesting conversation that, I think, other people would derive value from.” And so, we started to be more intentional about that and record them.  The idea is to talk about different topics that come up in the course of doing market research or analytics: so everything from how to do different kinds methodologies well to challenges facing our industry to reading between the lines and understanding communication.  So, we launched with an episode we’re calling “Show Me the Data,” which came out of a conversation I had with a client where they said, “Can you send me the raw data?” And I was like, “What does raw data mean to you?” because I think what you think it means and what I think it means are not the same.  And so, it became this conversation of how do you get to the essence of what people are requesting and how much transparency is so much that it just feels like an overwhelming firehose. So, we started to tape these conversations we were having in our team meetings and make them a podcast. So, the first one launched today, and you can find it at our website, which is Research Narrative.com/Thinkerry.             


Now, are you posting these to normal podcast mediums like Apple…


We will eventually.  Right now, we’re just doing it through our website, and once we have a big enough volume, we’ll port it over to something like iTunes.  


Yeah, right, got it.  Do you see it as… Well, there are two things really that I want to pack here:  one is I completely agree with the thesis, “Do what I want, not what I say,” right?”  That’s super important for anybody that’s interacting with a customer because we’re not 1’s and 0’s.  We’re not code. Language is code.


People are shades of gray.


Yeah, totally, exactly.  And you get to know… That’s the nice part about, I think, this industry is that we get to know our customers, and you can actually…  You become your own Rosetta Stone.




In that framework, yeah, exactly.  So you understand what it is exactly what they mean by “Send me the data.”   






And it’s interesting in this case, we talk a lot in this particular podcast (I won’t spoil it too much), we talk a little bit about who is actually saying the phrase and making the request because what they mean depends on what there job is and who they are and what their background is.  And so, part of translating is understanding who you’re talking to and realizing that the exact same request come from five different people and mean five different things. And being able to actually read between the lines is a big part of our job.


Super important.


And the hard part of our job because it requires a lot of nuance and follow-up.


Podcasts are also a very effective way to be able to impact your audience.  I’ve been talking a lot about this topic, and I’ll be talking about it actually at the conference here tomorrow.


Yeah, I’m excited to hear that.


It’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’m thrilled. I really want to encourage our listeners to think about there’s two things with podcasting.  One is it’s easy. Literally, no cost. How much are you paying right now?


I don’t know.  I think the license for the software we use is maybe $25, $30 bucks a month.  And the cost for the microphones is like $100 a person. I mean it was really low startup costs.


Yeah, exactly.  It’s like almost no cap-x to speak of.  Even my setup, which is modeled after Y-Combinator setups, is relatively professional grade.  We’re talking about like $2,500, which in the grand scheme of things is just not material.


No, it’s not a lot.


But the benefit of having the podcast is it provides an ongoing, subscription-based  medium to communicate to your audience. So the brand that you can build, the connection that you build with that audience is very meaningful and actually grows over time.




Are you seeing this as a…  From your guys’ perspective right now (I know it’s early days having just put your toe in the water), are you seeing this as a marketing initiative or are seeing it as maybe something a little more unique like connecting with customers in a more in-depth way?  


Both, yeah.  I think we started out thinking, “Yeah, this is a great promotional strategy, but we actually recently launched a deliverable as part of our service offering that is called a consumer insights portal.  And the idea is that we take different studies and different data from around an organization and we put it all into one destination online that looks a little bit like Google Drive meets 538. We want it to be data journalism. And so, part of what we thought is we can integrate these podcasts into those deliverables and just a free add-on that gives some color to whatever the topic is.  So if we just did a segmentation for someone and we just recorded an episode about getting the most out of your segmentation research, we can upload that podcast to their portal for no additional cost, and it gives that team a little bit more color. “Oh, how do we now use this research as we roll it out?” So, it was kind of intended to serve a dual purpose. And then for us actually, it served a third purpose, which was we found when we were blogging, we would have these conversations as we edited each other about like:  “What about this? And what about this other thing?” And we had these interesting back-and-forth conversations, and we thought it’s the back-and-forth that makes the meat of what makes this interesting.

That the guy on my team who comes out of academia (We call him Dr. J; his name’s Jordan.  We have two Jordans on our team; so, we have to differentiate.) So, Dr. J comes out of an academic background; I come out of a private-sector background.  I’ve been in business my whole career. And so, we come at research from different perspectives, and we’ll debate that in a kind of friendly, funny way. And that debate is what’s interesting or that conversation is what’s interesting.  And that’s much harder to do in writing. And so, we found that we were losing some of the back-and-forth by writing everything. And that actually, talking out over a podcast and then having a conversation live might give a little bit more of color to the conversations we’re having and to the audience and give them a peek beneath the hood of how we get to the endpoint.      


That’s the other part that’s interesting about podcasts is that it’s not necessarily a finished product whereas a long-form blog post, you’ll have 20 hours invested.  But you lose the whole journey of creating the blog post. Honestly, the whole meta part of that is the more interesting, valuable piece. I’m toying with… I started a company recently on April 1st actually.   




Thank you.  It’s all very top secret actually.  But I’ve been toying with the fact of recording our staff meetings and starting a whole different podcast, which is just our staff meetings.   


That would be interesting like behind the scenes of a startup.


You’re talking like a 15 minute of a startup, and this is the staff meeting, right?  I think that the value there isn’t the content that would necessarily come out, “Oh, this is the synthesized big point.”  It’s much more about, potentially, about how do you run an effective staff meeting and what does that back-and-forth look like and how do you manage power dynamics and different initiatives and those kinds of things.  My broader point is that what’s interesting at the consumption level right now and I’m seeing this in our numbers on downloads is people are interesting in the overall journey as opposed to the – and also the “Aha” moments.  I’m not trying to take away from that – but as opposed to the (and I keep coming back to the long- form bog structure), the long form blog structure.


Absolutely.  And we say we work in the world of storytelling both in the sense that it’s the name of the company and it is our client base.  Our clients are oftentimes literally storytellers: we work with TV networks and studios, etc. Part of what’s fun about launching a podcast is we actually get to be storytellers and take people on the journey that we’re going on.  And you can do some of that in a blog post, but there is a piece of it that’s missing when you only see the finished product and you don’t see the journey we went on. And I’m a perfectionist when I write; so, a lot of time was going into one post.  And in an odd way, we actually got to the outcome a lot faster when we talk through it because it’s a group dynamic and then we can have a conversation and be transparent about how we got to that endpoint right then and there without going through 15 versions of it like I might do when I’m writing until I hit that perfect lever:  “Yes, this is the thing that I want out there.”


Nailed it.  


Absolutely.  So it’s actually become less of a time commitment to speak the things we’re thinking than it is to write them.


Research Narrative, Kerry, thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.          


Thank you.      


Enjoy the rest of your show.


Thank you.  Have a great conference.  

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Joaquim Bretcha – Netquest & ESOMAR

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Joaquim Bretcha, President of ESOMAR and International Director at Netquest.

Contact Joaquim Online:





Joaquim Bretcha, Netquest, el Presidente of ESOMAR.  You all know him. He talks to us today about the importance of May 2, 2019.  By the time you’re hearing this, that date has passed, but I would encourage you to mark it on your calendar.  I have certainly done that. It’ll be a much bigger deal going into 2020. This is the Market Research and Insights….  It’s been institutionalized as our day by the U.N. This is a really, really big deal. And the hashtag that you’re going to want to use on social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) is #celebratemr; again, that’s #celebratemr.  If you want to see some of the interactions that have already taken place as well as interact with those individuals, of course, you can always go onto Twitter or your platform of choice and enter that hashtag. I recommend sorting it by “latest” as opposed to “top,” but certainly do both.  And it’ll provide you a really good set of contacts of individuals who are interacting on those social platforms. The hack there is some of them are brands, and some of them are agencies. It’s a great opportunity for you to start interacting and learning who is active on social that is inside of your target market or your buyer.  Enjoy.


My guest today on the Happy Market Research Podcast as you all know El Jefe with ESOMAR, el Presidente, right?


El President.  That’s in Catalan.




Joaquim, yes.


Ah good, did it right.  I always want to change it.  Sorry about that, Bretcha.


That’s OK, OK.  


I do feel bad about that.  So, anyway, tell me what’s going on May 2nd?


May 2nd.  May 2nd is the Day of Market Research and Insights institutionalized by the U.N. since last year. So, our colleagues from Turkey, the Turkish Association, they did all the process.  So, today the 2nd of May is our day.  We will be heroes for one day.


For one day.  Bowie, who sang that song?


David Bowie.


David Bowie.  That’s right, yeah.  Gosh, that’s going to be the intro song for this episode if I can legally do it.  


That’s good idea.  We should just be playing this song all day.


So, is there a special hashtag that we should be using on social media?


It’s #celebratemr.


Got it.  So, a lot of attention.  I’ll be putting a lot of focus in LinkedIn, Twitter; a little bit of focus in Instagram and Facebook.  But those’ll be my number 1 and 2 platforms. ESOMAR is going to be, I’d imagine, active that day on social media.


Yeah, from ESOMAR we took that day very seriously.  So we are promoting a joint effort from the whole bodies, all bodies of industry that want to embrace this initiative.  It’s not just an ESOMAR initiative. We promote it, but we want everybody to embrace that because it’s for the industry; it’s for the professionals of this industry.  We do not want to take the protagonism; we don’t want to be the “OK, this is an ESOMAR thing.” No, we want… So, we have asked our local representatives; we have been in touch with many national associations as well with trade magazines and media.      


GreenBook, Insights Association, yeah.


So, ESOMAR, we’re one among the others, so one of them.  And we would like to… that this is the day of the professionals of this industry.  And there is a shoot-out of pride, but at the same time, “Hey, we’re responsible for many, many important things in our society.”  We have to be aware of that. For instance, one of the main objectives we have is we have to be stronger together because, for instance, we need to educate the legislator.  Many things are going on now: Privacy is one of them, for instance. So we need to educate the legislator in helping them understand why do we need to do things the way we do because it’s for the good of society, for the good of businesses, and it always needs to have a treatment with full respect for the person, for the respondent, for the people we’re analyzing and observing.        


I think that’ s great.  Now, I want to shift gears a little bit.  I was fortunate enough to participate in an event that you and ESOMAR hosted yesterday here at IIeX.  Tell us a little bit about the bridge that ESOMAR is building between insights and organizations.


Yeah.  The motto we chose for this term is “Building bridges between practices, people, and regions.”  We are in a moment in which data, as people say, is the new oil. So everybody… We are fortunate enough:  we live in a moment in which everybody says that they’re customer-centric, consumer-centric, people at the center; and we have lots of data.  OK, so what do we do with all that? So we live in that moment, and this moment with technology bringing new sources of data and new methodologies, we see there is a potential drift on practices.  So potential drift between the more traditional side of market research and the new data analytics that the science world that is emerging thanks to this technology. All of us, we have the same objective, which is to understand the consumer.  So our bridge between practices means, “Let’s enrich both worlds” because we are the same. We are the same. We’re all doing the same from maybe different perspectives, different backgrounds, different values, indeed, maybe. But, at the end, it’s for understand people.  So let’s build this bridge, and let’s have a merge of practices, a fusion of practices that will enrich all of us.


Fantastic.  I love that.  If you are not currently an ESOMAR member, I really encourage you to check them out.  ESOMAR.org I believe is the URL where you’ll find them online. And, of course, on any social media, @ESOMAR, you’ll be able to interact with them as well, ask questions, etc.  They have a couple of interesting opportunities for younger people. So I believe that, if you’re in the under-30 category, you get a break on the discount. Am I wrong? It’s like 100 euros or…  It’s very inexpensive for the membership plus. And probably one of the biggest benefits: not only are you supporting an important, a critical legislative body for us but, on top of that, you have the opportunity to network with probably the broadest reach at a global level in any organization.  So I’d encourage you take advantage of these opportunities if you’re not a membership. Obviously, there’s corporate memberships as well, which are really useful for increasing your overall validity and trust factor in the market research space. Joaquim, thanks for joining me on Happy Market Research Podcast today.   


It’s always my pleasure, Jamin.


Have a blast!


Yeah, thank you.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Jennifer Lauture – TD Ameritrade

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Jennifer Lauture, Marketing and Analytics Research Manager at TD Ameritrade.

Contact Jennifer Online:


TD Ameritrade


Jennifer Lauture, TD Ameritrade.  You all know the company. She’s a proven insights professional.  She was actually a speaker at IIEX in Austin this year. She’s got a really unique point of view with market research and its applications inside of the brand ecosystem and how it is utilized by TD Ameritrade and others to make business decisions. A lot of value here.  I’ve also included a link directly to Jennifer on LinkedIn in the show notes. Hope you enjoy.


I have Jennifer Lauture, TD Ameritrade.  Tell me what you think about IIEX this year.


I think it’s fantastic.  This is the first time I’ve been here.  I like the fact that it’s not so large that I can’t talk to somebody.  I like the fact that it’s small enough for me to feel like I can get to know people in a smaller context.  I was at Qualtrics about two months ago.


That was an epic adventure, right?


That was huge.  That was 10,000 people.  This is much smaller; it’s more intimate.   I feel like it’s warmer too in a lot of respects.    


Yeah, I agree.  I think that this is a…  From a value perspective, if you want to hear some top minds motivate you, you’re not going to be Qualtrics.  But if you’re looking for interaction with the under-the-surface part of the iceberg, then… GreenBook does a great job in putting on IIEX, allowing us to create really the connections, understanding who’s entering into market research from a technology perspective, what are the unique applications of that technology, how can I actually apply that to my day-to-day life as a market researcher.    


Yeah, that’s exactly why I like being here and what attracted me to this conference is because we’re always on the lookout for new vendors and I have no idea how to get to know them or how to get to know their product, except this incredibly formal:  “Dear, So-and-So: I’m interested in your product and it looks like your website has some stuff. Come and present for me.” And it’s incredibly scripted and very formal. And then there’s this expectation. It’s a little bit like dating. This is much more informal.  You can get to know your providers and what they offer without a lot of pressure to carry through the relationship, and you just pick the ones that are right for you.


Totally.  So, what have you seen that’s interesting so far?


So far, I think the way that certain companies are creating communities for feedback, that’s incredibly interesting because that’s a lot faster than how we’re used to doing things at my company.  I might say a good research project is a four-week-time turnaround. And now people are saying, “Oh, yeah, we could probably do it in two weeks; we could probably do it in one week if you needed to.”  And I was in a workshop yesterday that really within the span of an hour, we did a co-creation session.


Fun.  An hour.


An hour!


That’s crazy, right?


Yes. And, you know I try to push my vendors to try to do that.  And maybe sometimes, it’s for very small, very quick-hit projects.  Now I know where to go.


Absolutely.  That’s awesome.  I think it’s really neat seeing the diversity.  Did you go to the WIRe event last night?


I did.


That was cool.  


Yes, that was very cool.  It was at the Hotel Ella.   


Yeah, which is a killer bar.


Yes, it is a killer bar, and I happened to be staying there.  And I was like, “Why not?” It was fantastic.  


So, you actually booked.  I wish I would have stayed there.  And it’s way cheaper than this hotel.  


It is?


Totally.  Day 1 is behind us; we’re in the middle of Day 2 right now. What are you looking forward to for the rest of the time?


You know I have a difficult time thinking about the rest of the day.  I’m actually presenting.


Oh, scary.  What time?


12 o’clock, right before lunch.  So, I’m…


It’s 10:27.  Did your heart rate just go right then?     


My heart rate is incredibly racing, and…


You’re speaking from 12 to 12:30.


From 12 to 12:20.  


What track are you on?


I am on track 3 and…


I’m speaking also today on Track 3.


Oh, you are.  What are you presenting?


I’m going to talk about the power of podcasts.  I think it’s really interesting (I know it’s kind of silly).  This is your show, not mine, by the way. But I will tell this piece of it.


Are you sure about that?   


I am actually ‘cause I’m the host.   So, one of challenges in market research is activation of insights inside of the organization.  So, we can do research, but really making sure that everyone kind of buys into it. One of my challenges is thinking about how can you present the information at scale so that it’s consumed.  Nobody’s going to go read a deck; nobody’s going read a white paper. So, maybe a podcast is an interesting alternative for the researcher to be able to communicate the key insights. So it’s sort of a creative way of being able to communicate at mass.  But it’s also a passive medium by which people can consume content. In the U.S., we spend about 51 minutes a day commuting on average, which is a ton of time. So if you can condense your content into a 20-minute podcast, talking about the trends in you space, whatever the last research project is, that might be a way the general organization can consume your information.  So, it’s not a pitch for like me by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just thinking a little bit differently about other ways we can communication key insights.


You know something?  Our CEO listens to podcasts as he walks to work every morning.  


Boom!  There’s the knowledge.   

So, now all of a sudden…  And you think about how much time do you actually get with the CEO?


Like almost nothing.  


Exactly.  But now you could get 20 minutes a week or whatever of his time.  Now you think about the like “Holy, F***” moment that is. When you start realizing it.  I mean that’s like this is the piece that, this is the hack that it’s killing me that market research isn’t getting, is that we’ll spend all of our time and money creating these kick-ass presentations.  But at the end of the day, they’re usually sequestered to a subset of the organization. And it’s really, really, really hard for somebody to pull out of their active mode, which is where we are at work, to be able to process in a meaningful way that insight, even though that insight is exactly what they need in order to deliver better products to the customer in relationship to the customer.  So if you can leverage something like a podcast or something else even – I’m not married to podcasts – but that can get to them in a passive way so that they can consume it while they’re multi-tasking, not multi-tasking doing email, but multi-tasking mowing the lawn, or the honey-do lists, or the commute, right, or the walk or whatever. Now, all of a sudden, you’re actually driving. And the other part that’s really interesting thing is the psychology of it.  When you CEO consumes a podcast, whoever he’s listening to, he’s actually developing a relationship with that individual even though it’s one-sided. It’s a very powerful mechanism. I don’t know how in the hell I started talking about myself. I apologize. I’ve never…


You know I’m a researcher and I made you do it.  


Alright, fine.


That’s what I do.


Anyways, it has been an honor having you the podcast.  Jennifer, TD Ameritrade. We all heard about your company.  Thanks so much. This episode goes live in a couple of weeks.  We’ll create a little like stand-alone for you. So you can send it to your friends and family and whatever.


That’s cool.  Thank you.


Thank you.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – James Norman – Pilotly

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews James Norman, CEO and President of Pilotly.

Contact James Online:




James Norman, one of my favorite entrepreneurs in this space.  The name of his company is Pilot.ly. They are an innovative, video-based platform.  Respondents are exposed to any length of video from seconds to hours, and that feedback is automatically processed, analyzed, and delivered to you as the consumer.  And it really helps streamline the overall creative process. Enjoy the episode. You can always find James or any of his crew at the business.pilot.ly website. Enjoy.


Happy Market Research Podcast.  My guest today is James Norman, the founder, CEO of Pilot.ly?




Yep.  We are live at IIeX in Austin, Day 2.  When did you get in?


Yesterday morning.


So, you’ve been here for the whole conference.  Any standout moments for you?


Not quite yet.  I’ve just been getting calibrated.  I went into a couple workshops, and I thought they were pretty interactive.  So, that was cool to be able to like jump in our people’s platforms and kind of walk through the demo with them.  So, I think that’s definitely something different than what I’ve seen in other places. I’ve just been running into people; run into you, which is cool.    


Thank you.  It’s an honor to run into you as well.  We’ve had a couple of phone conversations.  And I knew what you looked like on LinkedIn, but like context is really weird. And so..


Right.  I’m probably much larger than maybe you thought.        


You are, you’re a tall guy.  We introduced… I can’t remember if you came up to me or vice versa, but you said, “I’m James.”  And it was just like funny little moment where it took me, I don’t know, a minute. “Oh, you’re James.”  It’s just funny. Tell me about Pilot.ly.


I mean Pilot.ly is all about understanding the audience and using that understanding to make better business decisions.  And so, it all kind of started back when I learned about the traditional process of understanding content. Similar processes were being used to understand products and audio and whatever else.  But video is so much more complex. And so, I thought the things that people were doing and the things they say to me about what they do were very applicable when they came up with those processes.  If you were to be back in the 80s and you said, “Hey, I need to understand this promo or this TV show.” It would be a viable idea to put 30 people in a room or 20 people in a room and have a conversation.  But the lead time in doing something like that, the cost of something like that, the lack of ability to potentially do it at a rapid pace to get the actual audience you need to hear from, that process doesn’t make as much sense anymore.  And in today’s modern time, people are used to responding to things online and giving feedback. And so, you can actually with the right user experience get a pretty robust point of response from a consumer or your audience.


And we’re consuming video at a rapid… and it’s increasing too.  Not only is it the Number 1, it’s also the volume by which we’re consuming it is much greater as well.  So, people are getting a little more comfortable with communicating through video and then also they’re getting more comfortable with seeing it as truth like it’s a surrogate for an in-person conversation.  




So, are you dealing with recorded snippets or are you dealing with more conversational like real-time video?


For us, the only way that we deal with actual people’s faces is we’re integrating a Voxpopme into the platform.  So, we look for other startups too that have interesting signals that we can plug into our process. But, ultimately, our system is streaming long-form content most of the time in context.  So an ad will go inside a pod within a show to get a natural recall or intent. If I’m testing a film, you’re going to watch the whole film. Things like that. It can range from a ten-minute experience to a two-hour experience.


Wow!  That’s crazy.  That’s pretty cool.  Who are some of your clients?


Everybody from Viacom to CBS to Snapchat to Dolby Audio.  It’s a wide range. Like anybody who’s creating content who really wants to understand their audience is like, “We’ll provide that for you at rapid speed, at a low cost.”     


What does your ideal customer look like?


So, I think it’s someone who is…  I’ve been thinking about this pretty deeply recently ‘cause we work with a lot of researchers, right?  But I recently realized like by proxy I’m involved in market research, but I’m not actually a market researcher.  If I was to say that, then you’re going to ask me like, “Well, what about this company?” I was going to explain to you how we’re not like them.  So, if I’m not like anybody in that space, then I must not really be in that space. And so, I did a lot of studying and realized like we’re kind of in this newer space of like Signal, like data comprehension, data interpretation.  So we’re kind of calling it audience signal comprehension. It’s not just about collecting the data: it’s about looking at these things as individual signals and processing to come up with a key insight and do it in an automated fashion.  So, what I see from an organizational standpoint market research-wise is research departments aren’t necessarily seeing themselves as organizational thought leaders, right? They’re just operating as researchers. So someone in the business might ask a question and then they might answer that email a couple of days later and then they might call a vendor ‘cause they might be understaffed to actually complete the project themselves.  And in that long process, the person who originally asked the question might not have the question anymore. So now, I lost business, right? ‘Cause that person is like, “Ah, forget about it.” And they’re seen as not useful.


Right.  That’s a double loss.


Double loss.  And so, my ideal client is someone as a research department that is trying to position themselves as thought leaders.  So, it’s cool to have used these other outside vendors or yeah, call people, and have these long lead times, but if you want to be able to respond at the pace you’re going to need to respond in now and in the coming future, you need something that enables you to do what you do best, which is tell stories from information and do it rapidly.         


An interview I had with the Head of Insights from GoDaddy, Lori Iventosch-James, and she had this great quote, which I’ll, of course, screw up, right, but the gist of it was “Executives are going to make decisions; I need to provide them insights.  If I don’t, they’re still going to make a decision.”


Right, right.  It’s going to happen either way, right?




And so, you’d rather be part of that process and be able to put your stamp on it ‘cause otherwise, you’re going to be wondering, “Well, why is my budget dwindling?”  “Because people don’t value you.”


How do you get respondents?


So, we actually are pretty deeply integrated with another startup that we work with called PureSpectrum.  Big fans of their team. We’re kind of like hand in hand. With our system, it’s like fully self-service, right?  So you can not only upload your video and program the survey, but then you chose your target audience, build out your quotas.  You can be nested, unnested, whatever. And our system is able to translate that automatically into PureSpectrum, and they’re able to automatically capture 16 different panel providers right now.  But we optimize our panel providers based on our previous experiences. So it’s based on length of LOI; it’s based on device type; and, in some cases, certain demographic attributes. So, we optimize which panels we actually pull from.    


That’s great.  It’s a company I’m well familiar with.  So, awesome, man.


Of course, you’re familiar.  


So, how do people get in contact with you?


Easily, you know our website, business.pilot.ly, or you can always email us.  It’s just inquiry@pilot.ly.  Anybody who has a question about their audience, we’re here to answer and just try and improve people’s workflows so that they can win too, right?  They have customers; they’re our customers, but they have customers. I’ve just really realized what we’re here to do is enable you to be the best provider to your customers.  You know what I mean?


100%.  James, pilot.ly, thanks for being on the podcast today.  


Thanks for having me.


Have a great rest of your day.


Thank you.  You too.

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Hannibal Brooks – Olson Zaltman

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Hannibal Brooks, Insight Associate at Olson Zaltman.

Contact Hannibal Online:


Olson Zaltman


Hannibal Brooks is the name of my guest; Olson Zaltman is the name of his company or the company that he works for.  Olson Zaltman is a founder of the System 1, or one involved in the System 1 framework, as I understand it. So, they’ve got a ton of pedigree and knowledge, deep understanding of consumer purchase behavior at a System 1 level, at a habitual-type level.  And they have a really interesting marketing research approach, which goes beyond just traditional research to reveal deeper insights. Enjoy.


I’m with Hannibal Brooks, which is the coolest name on the podcast in the history so far.  And he is with Olson…




Zaltman.  Thank you very much.  Sorry about that. So, we are live at IIeX, and I’m super excited to have you on the show.  


I’m super excited to be here.  


What do you think?


You know I have loved the presentations I’ve seen so far:  tons of new application for AI, market research, people getting into the quant of things.  I saw a really great presentation on the AI analysis of CPG packages that I thought was just great among other things.  Tons of great presentations.


So a lot of value.  Have you been to many market research conferences?  


No, this is my first one.


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


Yeah, so at Olson Zaltman, we’re all about understanding the unconscious mind.  A lot of people refer to it now as System 1, but our founder, Gerald Zaltman, or one of our co-founders, actually developed the concept and founded Harvard’s Mind of the Market Lab.  So that’s where these ideas were explored. He decided to do some consulting, patented our technique – the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique – and ultimately became hugely popular.  So now we basically investigate the unconscious, and we look at a few different areas. One thing that’s kind of unique is… Laddering has definitely been popular, but really it’s using images and metaphors to explore the unconscious.  And a lot of that is also built around laddering. If you show someone a picture of a whale, you know you could give them huge scientific description or you can just show an image, and it’s, honestly, worth more than as 1,000 words. That sort of thing.             


So, talk to me a little bit more about laddering.


Right, so laddering is about looking at the attributes of a product first.  And so, that’s one thing that’s at the surface-level details, but, ultimately, getting from there through to emotional cues.  And so, you look at things like, “Here’s a product someone has.” “Here’s an attribute.” “Here are its functional benefits.” “Here are psycho-social benefits.”  “Here’s the emotion that it leads to.” And you, ultimately get to an identity. And all that takes place in a setting with three different factors. You have like the behavior; you have the mind; and you have the environment.  And those are three different things ‘cause, if you think about… Let’s say you’re buying a broom, right? From a mind perspective, you can say, “I’m a person who likes being clean. It’s time for me to do some cleaning.” So then you get a broom.  So that’s the mind. The behavioral side would be, “I was getting ready to clean up ‘cause I like cleaning up, and I noticed my broom was dirty. So I ordered a new one on Amazon.” And then the environmental side would be some like: You are on Amazon or some shopping place, browsing.  And then you’re like, “I was here browsing anyway. Now I see a broom, that’s something I like to do.” So, subtle differences ultimately, they can add up to something immense.


I think that’s really…  Early in my career, I did conjoint analysis.  Part of that process is taking a product and then, I call it degrading it, but I don’t mean that in a negative way.  It’s like separating it into a series or pieces of features, right, that you can then… and levels within those features, price being the obvious example:  low, medium, high price point, price being a feature of any product or service. When you’re thinking about something like this, how do you separate out the broom, like the pieces of the broom.  Is it always segregated in those three ways or do you take it down another level?


Well, one thing that we specialize in is, after we do our analyses…  So, lot of it is these in-depth, one-on-one interviews, these ZMET interviews we call them, using images.  So, a lot of companies now are starting to use images and understand the power of metaphor, but ours is about going levels deeper and building a complete story.  So, the way we break it up is we do the interviews; we break down products into these attributes. We do custom mind maps; we essentially build out all these various features and ladder up to the top level of connection.  If you look at some of the features that… If you look at a lot of things that we have today: why don’t I have my elbows resting on this table right now? A lot of people are like, “Oh, it’s because of something sailors did ‘cause sailors, when they would eat on decks, they would have their elbows resting on tables so patrons would be warned, “OK, when someone rests their elbows on the table, it means they’re going to be aggressive at the table.”  But that’s not actually the origin: it’s because it’s a naturally defensive position; so, it actually has origins going like thousands of years back. So, ultimately, you have to do a deep dive in customer’s minds to understand the underlying factors that lead to their behaviors.


I love that example.  My good friend, Gordon Hall, is a…  He was Mr. California back in the day.  So he’s super like buff, right? And when he eats, I always laugh at him.  I say, “Dude, it’s like you’re in prison.” he puts his elbows… He literally protects his food.  It’s so funny. Like somebody is going to want to eat his food. “Gordon, nobody’s going to eat your food.  Calm down.” So, anyway… I can’t wait to share this episode with him. So, you guys have been around awhile.  


We have.


And have you had much presence inside of the market research community at trade shows?  


You know we had a bigger presence in the past.  We went dark for a while because we have a couple of books out now that have been pretty popular.  Caught some referral business from that. But now we’re making more of a venture into the conferences, getting more involved in that space.  So, I’m actually here giving a presentation on the new speaker circuit.


Oh, I can’t wait to hear that.  What time is that today?


It’s at 10:40.


10:40. Now, will you be publishing the talk on social media, LinkedIn?


I hope so.  Yes.


Cool.  Presentations, that kind of thing.  I tell you what. When you come up with pillar content like that… I’m not sure if they video it or not, but if you don’t have somebody videoing it, you should try to get someone to do it.  Then breaking that up into a short series of maybe five posts at 60 seconds a piece on LinkedIn, and then with some long-form blog with using… I don’t know if you’re familiar; LinkedIn had purchased SlideShare and it’s a great way to get additional visibility on your content by just taking your long-form content, converting it into a PowerPoint presentation, which you already have done, right?  




And then posting that on SlideShare.  It’s a really effective way to be able to punch through on LinkedIn, get visibility on your content, your company’s value prop and help customers and the community at large find you.  


That sounds great.  I’ll definitely take that in.


Totally, totally.  So, Olson Zaltman.


You got it.  Some people call us OZ for short.


Oh, I like OZ so much better.  Thank you. It’s also early in the morning, and this is Day 3 for me, which…


I see you got the coffee in front of you, so…  


First cup.  Where’d you stay?  Did you stay in the conference hotel?  


Yeah, I’m just a couple of minutes away in the building.


Lucky guy. Anything really interesting at the show so far from an exhibit perspective?  


Well, I saw a couple of the startups had really interesting ideas.  One of them I loved was the service that allows you to essentially just enter information, maybe two different concepts.  It will automatically generate a survey, compare all of that, get all that data, and then generate like a 50-, 60-slide deck, broken up by all these different attributes, brands, all that.  So, great stuff.


Do you remember who that was?


The name has deserted me right now.  Soon as I look at the card, I’ll remember it.




It was a really good one.  I voted for it.


Did you?  Awesome. When I post this episode in a couple weeks, it’d be great if you could just like post that company’s name.


You got it.


Link to that name, and then I’ll make sure I include them in our tech corner.  So, I appreciate that lead.


That sounds good.


Awesome.  Hey, Hannibal, thank you so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  


Super happy to be here, and thanks for the opportunity.  


I look forward to what you’re going to continue to kick-ass and do in your career.  It’s going to be a fun time.


I appreciate it.


Alright, my friend.


Thank you.