We all know that clients are very important. In some ways they set the stage for the direction of the research industry and whether the latest methodology is accepted. I really enjoy meeting and speaking with clients. It is probably the best part of my job. The seven clients that contributed to this blog all have different backgrounds and represent different industries. What they all have in common is they are professional researchers, have been in the industry for many years and represent large research budgets.
Please sit back and enjoy getting to know seven special people:
What is your most memorable research project you have ever worked on?
Jon Last – Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Research and Brand Development – Golf Digest
(To see all of Jon Last’s responses, click here)
What’s that adage about always remembering your first time? My first exposure to MR was where we conducted a study of top level executives for a conference center client about the effectiveness of meetings. The goal of the project was to generate publicity for the client, and the "shout it from the rooftops" headline that we derived was that these execs felt that over half the time spent in meetings was wasted. We quantified the dollar value that was wasted and garnered incredible amounts of press for our client. It was this project that flicked on the lightbulb for me that marketing research could be incredibly powerful on multiple levels.
On a lighter note, I will never forget some focus groups we were doing when I was in the cruise industry. On a check-in, I went to the back room to find our CEO, incredibly enthused by the input of a particular respondent. He begged me to let him come into the focus room and address the group. I tactfully explained why this was a bad idea and then pulled the rest of my team aside, encouraging them to watch him and hold him at bay. Of course, it was to no avail. Just as I was wrapping up the group, he came bursting into the room and started "selling".
Regina Lewis, PhD VP, Consumer Insights InterContinental Hotels Group
(To see all of Regina Lewis’ responses, click here)
1997 extensive in-home ethnographic study of how women were using the internet. I did this in conjunction with P&G, and it really changed the way we all (I was at women.com Networks at the time) viewed chat, info seeking, and much more!
Jill Donahue, Brand Insights Manager Nestle Purina
(To see all of Jill Donahue’s responses, click here)
I was working for a footwear retailer and we were conducting ethnographies to see how woman organize (or not) their shoes. One woman not only had a separate closet for her shoes, she had religated her husband to the basement storage area for his everyday clothes. Amazing!
Dan Womack, Manager InsightsAflac
(To see all of Dan Womack’s responses, click here)
For me, there is one project I’ll never forget and the reason has nothing to do with the research I was conducting. On the evening of September 10, 2001, I flew to Austin, TX and prepared to moderate focus groups early the next morning. That day, a few of the last respondents to arrive for the first group were talking about hearing vague reports of a plane crashing into a building in NY City. That was all any of us knew until after the group was finished.
My second group of the day was mid-morning. The show rate was surprisingly good, but the research wasn’t. We spent very little time discussing the products I came to study. Instead, we used the time to discuss something we all knew was far more important.
I spent much of the next two days waiting, worrying and talking with the two flight crews that were also stranded in the same hotel. I was fortunate to have a rental car and, on the third day, I decided to drive the 1500 miles back to Virginia. I’ve never loved business travel, but I have never been happier to return safely from a trip and hug my wife and kids.
Jami Guthrie, Senior Director, Global Consumer & Market Intelligence Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
(To see all of Jami Guthrie’s responses, click here)
It was a segmentation study in an adjacent category that we (as a company) knew very little about. The reason that it is my most memorable is because the learning was completely new and so insightful. It allowed us to look at our brands and the opportunities through a completely different lens. It was great to see how engaged everyone in the company was with the learning and more importantly, how quickly we took action against it.
Bill Tanner Director, Strategic Research & Audience Development Dallas Morning News
(To see all of Bill Tanner’s responses, click here)
I was in Hangzhou China, in January, many years ago, doing parent- child dyads in a school with a TV monitor set up. A window was broken in the observation room, a cold winter wind blowing into the room. We were bundled up as best we could but it was impossible to stay warm. The monitor flickered and there was a military training event going on outside making it hard to hear. I asked that we move to the hotel the next day where we set up in an empty dining room. Unfortunately, the next day’s sessions at the hotel were stilted. Parents did not open up as much as they had in earlier sessions. It turned out that the hotel once was a major Communist Party Leadership hangout and still a place often visited by the hierarchy, so the next day, it was back to school. Fortunately, the window and monitor were repaired.
Bob Graham, Consumer Research Manager Energizer
(To see all of Bob Graham’s responses, click here)
Hard to say. At Micrografx, I did an international project with focus groups in London, Paris and Munich. It was fascinating to observe the cultural differences among respondents in different countries. I’m prouder of some of the other projects I’ve worked on (where I used a new method or analytical tool), but I think the international one was the most memorable.
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