IIeX Amsterdam 2019 Podcast Series

IIeX Europe 2019 Conference Series – Rob Marjenberg – Qualie

Welcome to the #IIEX Europe Conference Series 2019. Recorded live in Amsterdam, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Rob Marjenberg, Co-Founder of Qualie.

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I’ve got Rob with Qualie. Is that right?


Yes, right.


Here, Happy Market Research podcast, IIeX show floor. Day two. How’s it going?


This is the first I’ve been to one of these conferences. It’s just really refreshing. You got a real overall sense of where the industry is going. Because this conference works, it’s more of the edgy type of stuff as well. You get a bit of a mixed barrel like some things which you think, “That sounds amazing but I don’t really know what it is,” and other things which you think, “I’ve heard that type of thing before.” You definitely get the theme of where the industry is heading and the theme it seemed to me that came through really strongly. The last five, or seven years, or something because of this growth of data and the way it’s changing the landscape in market research. Since to me, it’s coming back to bringing the human side of it together with the data side of it. That seems to be the job of the market research industry right now to remarry some of that understanding of that people, and how they think, and how they feel.


The humanization of the data?


The humanization, yes. It might be confirmation bias, but that works perfectly because Qualie is all about that really. It is about humanizing data. It’s been really encouraging for me to see that, you want to be on the sweet spot of where the industry is and where it’s heading to. I feel like, “This is good for me.”


It’s funny about the name Qualie. It’s an industry term as well, right?


It is. Yes.


What’s your role there?


I’m a co-founder and it’s interesting because Qualie, it’s called Quan Hybrid Platform. I saw qualie.com was available as a URL and it wasn’t cheap, but I thought wasn’t that a nice thing to have, because I was always called a qualie. I used to work in a big agency in the qualies and quantities and that type of thing. When we started with Qualie, we were feeling the lot of that good stuff you get, all the magic you get from qualitative research was being lost in this rush to big data and how easy it is to get numbers flowing through the system. I could see what was having qualitative research with this methodology, which was, yes, they’ve moved online a little bit, but that was really just so you didn’t have to go to a central location but didn’t really have much automation behind it, didn’t have much efficiency behind it. The big thing it didn’t seem to have, it didn’t play nice with quant research. There was always these two separate things even in big agencies you had the qualies and quantities and that type of thing.

We tried to think .. and what Qualie is, it’s really a survey platform with the sole qualitative research baked into it. What comes naturally to qualitative research really is to help ground people and help them understand and be empowered to find your own truth with the skills you learn of qualitative research. We put that front and center in our survey. We’ve got explainers, a presenter. My co-founder Ainslie is wonderful on camera. We’ve got 600 of her videos, which working people on get them to understand what the topic is, getting too comfortable what they need to be doing. As you go through, serves another video, short little videos to help them understand what they’re meant to be doing and that type of thing.

Then it’s got a system which I’m almost 100 percent certain is unique in the industry. Essentially, this is that we have a stream of qualitative and quantitative participants in the same survey. The qualitative participants as they’re on the survey responding to material concepts, whatever it might be, and as well as entry, the quant survey questions. They have moments where they have to consider and reflect. We use a little bit of, I call it training, but it’s really only in a little short little video we get to be mindful of the emotions and the feelings that they’re feeling at that particular time and express it on video, on camera in the survey. They distill those thoughts and feelings down to 50 second sound grabs. Then what we do in Qualie in the same survey, the qualie participants receive the same material, answer some questions so we know that, I don’t know on a scale of one to eight they’re on eight. We’re going to serve them now videos from our qualitative participants who score the same way for validation. How do you feel about what this person said? Does this reflect your feelings about what this topic is? Then they will watch that video the qualitative participants done and they’ll rate it from awesome, they nailed it for me to agree with what they say. That generates a number for that video. Once with more quantitative participants coming through, we start to get scores and understand what the consensus opinion of the market is, spoken in the markets on words. You get the numbers, you get the stats, and then you get the consensus videos of these are the people who most reflective the market sentiment to whatever this is. It’s not a qualitative researcher saying, this is really good. This is what’s about, it’s about the market itself determining what the whys are. In a Qualie survey, you get the numbers, you get the data, and you get the why, and the understanding of the one platform.


How long have you guys been in business?


Two years. We’ve built around tech. Started in Australia now, we’re really one the reason we’re here is we’ve got some clients, some in the UK, and we’re doing some work in the United States as well. Pick up we have 34 clients ranging from Google, Coca Cola, Citibank, Australian government.


That’s huge.


Really big clients. What they’re getting at is, they get the numbers, but then they also really quickly understand why and what’s going on in a way that’s different from just stuff coming out of a group discussion.


Who do you compete against when you sell into these brands?


That’s an interesting thing, because and having walked around this hole here and I’ve been trying to see who’s doing what we’re doing. I haven’t found anyone who’s doing what we’re doing. I would say anyone who wants to do a survey should be doing it with a colleague. For that reason, so we do full service for clients, but we’re also launching a self-serve platform. The clients have their own surveys and also potentially track for market research agencies to use the platform to do their own surveys in this way as well. It’ll be like we exchange some time.

We pitch against the big guys like Ipsos and all those types of things and win and then we sometimes pitch against small qualitative agencies and things.


That’s very cool. Congratulations on your success.


Thanks very much.


What is the best part of the conference? Your highlight?


My highlight. (Laughter.) Having a chat with a guy from EGU firm is my highlight. Sometimes the last thing you … Your talk is brilliant overall. I really love that and what you’re doing is amazing too. That was just really, really good. Then the guy after you, he was also really good who was saying, his idea is let’s get a do over the whole market research industry and let’s just focus on what people are doing and not ask them any questions. That thought was a provocative thing to do at a market research conference. I like the fact that that you can have that range of from more fruition to the really the edgy type of new ways of approaching and thinking about behave and tracking behavior and those types of things.

I’ll tell you a big thing for me was hearing some of those panels and discussions yesterday where some of the insights of managers from larger organizations, we’re talking about how their lives have changed, the working lives have changed and managing all the different new platforms, and apps, and ability to get data into their organizations. One of the things suppliers don’t need to understand and recognize is that they are faced with a myriad of options of different approaches and they’ve got a piece of altogether and with limited budgets, think about what’s going to work here and what’s going to fit into our workflows and how we operate. I thought that was really insightful to hear in their own words how they’re adapting. They are adapting and more power to them.


I completely agree with you that the provocative nature of some of the conversations has been for me, it helps me reframe the whole industry. What does a world look like where you never ask a question. That’s really interesting. I don’t think it’s realistic, but it’s super interesting if you can get in that creative headspace. You think about what you’re doing, more inline surveying or however you want to frame it. The interesting part about that is now you have a context of where the insight is being garnered as well. We as market researchers, one of the big opportunities for us is if you frame out the context or the insight from a business point of view, like, “What does the inception point of? I need to know the answer to this question.” Then it helps frame the way that you serve that up to that stakeholder, the insight up to the stakeholder post. Sometimes depending on if you’re up or down the chain in the decision-making process there could be a lot of contexts that need to be provided for that data.


You said that when you gave your talk, they asked you what are the two most important things and one of them you said was a return on investment. Fair enough. The other one you said was storytelling, like telling the story because as well as providing the numbers and that type of thing. Ultimately, it’s about influence and absolutely decision making. One of the things I don’t think the market research industry is great at is realizing that you got to persuade the truth. It’s not just about delivering the information, it’s about persuading the people who are going to make decisions, this is what you need to do. Having those tools and I was talking to someone yesterday, one of the clients here and he says, “Superficially, I need engagement from my people upstream from me.” I said, “It’s not superficial at all, because they’re the ones who got to influence and they’re just people as well who need to understand something on some type of visceral level where you get it and understand that.” The industry and hopefully, it’s starting to happen tools to persuade the truth as outputs of research is there are critical things.


My guest today has been Rob with Qualie. Rob thanks for being on the Happy Market Research podcast.


Yes. It’s been really enjoyable.


If someone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


Yes, they can just email me. The simple version is rob@qualie.com. That’s probably the best way.


Perfect. I got so much.


Thanks. Lovely to meet you.