Research Methods

Many of our clients come to us with complex and ambiguous challenges, which require a creative multi-method approach. We have deep, practical experience across a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and have conducted hundreds of custom research studies with samples as small as ten to as large as tens of thousands.

We are also adept at leveraging the latest web, video, and mobile technologies to facilitate studies with hard to reach audiences, unique data collection requirements, or situations where time and money are at a premium.

In-depth Interviews

No matter if it’s done in-person, on the phone, or via a web-cam, our interviewers are experts at building rapport, getting past superficial responses, and revealing the underlying issues. We are able to quickly get up to speed and understand the challenges facing our client’s. We have conducted a diverse range of studies, from technical interviews with doctors and business strategy discussions with CEOs to exploratory conversations with stay-at-home moms.

Focus Groups

We have participated in hundreds of groups from both sides of the glass. Our turnkey approach manages the entire process from start to finish, including identifying participants, markets and facilities, writing the screener and discussion guide, managing the recruiting process and field service, providing trained, experienced moderators, providing notes and transcripts, and writing the report.

Ethnography (Observation)

Sometimes, what people do is more important than what they say. In a store, in a home, or out in the “real world” we observe and learn how everyday interactions happen. We know how to watch and pay special attention to our physical environment and the spaces around us. We identify unspoken feedback that occurs through body language, facial expressions, and behaviors that indicate positive and negative feelings about an experience.


By “walking and talking” with a person while they shop we can uncover hidden patterns, identify unspoken consumer interests, and draw unique conclusions about the how’s and why’s of shopper behaviors. We do more than just listen to what they say; we watch how they observe, interact and experience the store environment around them.

Metaphor Elicitation

This process uses a pre-curated group of images to “solicit” deeper and more descriptive responses from interviewees than they might be able to deliver on their own. Providing images as stimulus allows for richer insights into brands, products, and experiences than is often delivered by simple, unaided Q&A.

Home Use Tests

Letting customers take home and use new products and prototypes is a great way to get feedback to help refine and perfect consumer products. We ask respondents to keep a journal or diary and take pictures to share how they used the product, what the experience was like, and provide ideas about how to improve it. These tests are often followed up by focus group discussions.

Online Surveys

We are experienced at developing, managing, and fielding online surveys of all shapes and sizes. In addition to writing, programming, fielding the survey, doing analysis, and reporting the results, we recommend the ideal audience, appropriate survey length, a properly motivating incentive, and perform data quality control. We know how to ask the right questions in the right order and with the right answer choices. The result is to maximize what is learned, while minimizing response bias and error.

Consumer Panels

These allow us to have an open and ongoing dialogue with the customer. Panels can be facilitated online or in-person. Whether it’s with 10 people or 100, they allow us to quickly gather useful information about products, services, new concepts, and more. Some panels last just a day or two, while others are ongoing over the course of the project.

Phone Studies

Even in the age of mobile phones, phone studies can be an effective tool when you need to quickly survey an audience to understand public opinions, brand awareness, or interest in an idea. We are experienced at developing, managing, and facilitating phone surveys of all shapes and sizes, for a national or local audience.

Store Audits

This nonintrusive technique evaluates the retail experience and offering. We visit the stores and use our expertise as marketing professionals to examine the various facets of our clients’ and/or their competitor’s business. These audits provide insight into merchandising, product assortment, sales strategy, and customer experience that cannot be derived by simply looking at a website. In some cases we audit brick & mortar, online, catalog, paid media, and social media activities to provide a comprehensive, 360° view of the brand.

Usability Testing

Used in new product development, website, and digital interface planning, this research is geared to break down the wall between the designer and the user. It allows us to see how individuals perform real tasks in real time, which ultimately helps us to uncover pitfalls and identify opportunities with the current design.


It can be difficult to reach certain audiences online or on the phone. “Intercepting” people where they work, shop, live, or play is often one of the most effective ways to reach your customer. Whether you need 10 or 1,000 interviews we are experienced at finding the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and asking the right questions.

Secondary Research

A smart researcher understands that you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. That’s why we often look to see if any of the information we are seeking is already available. Whether its searching online, accessing syndicated databases, or using higher education libraries, we know how to quickly and efficiently learn what information already exists before investing in a new primary research study.