I’m an individual market researcher in Canada: Which association should I join?

What’s up Canadian researchers! In recent weeks…

  • CRIC set out a statement of purpose and polices to help market research companies in Canada.
  • ESOMAR announced a partnership with CRIC to help individual researchers whose company’s are members of CRIC.

But what about students, academics, government employees, freelancers like me, and all the individual researchers from Canadian companies that aren’t members of CRIC? Where do these people turn?

Fortunately, I’ve helped provide a Canadian perspective to a lot of really great organizations over the years including:

  • ISO: I’ve been the Canadian Chair of the International Standards Association, TC 225: Market, Opinion, and Social Research committee since 2014
  • Insights Association: I was part of the MRA Research Advisory Board (2016), and worked on the MRA/IMRO Guide to the Top 16 Social Media Research Questions (2010)
  • ESOMAR: I helped with the ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on Social Media Research (2017), ESOMAR 24 Questions for Social Media Research (2010), ESOMAR Guide to Market Research (2016)
  • AAPOR: I helped AAPOR with the planning group for council on diversity (2016), national conference planning (2018), board nominations (2015), conference code of conduct (2017)

In other words, I’ve seen first hand that these associations have decades of experience in promoting high quality standards and ethics in our industry and have been longtime supporters of the Canadian industry as well.

You will be extremely well served as an individual member of one of these four associations.

  1. AAPOR: If you’re an academic, polling geek, or into social and political research, this is a great association for you. Even better, their annual conference will be in Toronto this May. I’m helping them organize the chapter event!
  2. ESOMAR: If you conduct research around the world or want to stay in touch with what’s new and amazing in countries beyond our borders, look no further. Esomar is a great choice for you even if your company is not a member of CRIC.
  3. Insights Association: If much of your work is conducted in North America, why not say a howdy hello to our neighbours to the south sharing the same time zone as us!
  4. QRCA: Oh quallies, you’ve built something amazing here. If you’re a quallie and not already a member, correct that mistake post haste!

There are, of course, other options. But before jumping into one, do your homework. Make sure the association and association leaders you choose have a solid foundation and proven track record of promoting high standards and ethical behaviours, and are viewed as gold-standard providers by our industry leaders.

If you aren’t sure which association is right for you, talk to several of your clients or research providers. Find out which associations they know and trust. And if you’re still stuck, I’d be happy to help you out. Send me a quick message.

[Side note: MRIA-TT progress is slow. We don’t yet have an option to add to the above list.]

2018 Market Research Conference Speaker Gender Tracker #MRX #NewMR

Diversity - market research speaker trackerThis list shows the gender ratio of speakers at marketing research and related conferences during 2018.

These data are not 100% accurate. I am not always able to identify whether a speaker is male or female based on their name. Online programs aren’t always up to date, and printed programs often change at the last minute and don’t reflect who was actually on stage. If you are able to correct my numbers, I would be grateful for the help.

And yes, there is far more to diversity than gender. Diversity of age, ethnicity, ability/disability, sexuality, and more also matter. But let’s at least measure what we can from conference programs.

Please contribute: If you have a PDF or image of a conference program, email it to me so I can include it in this list.

FYI, I put a ⭐ beside any conference between 45% and 55%  and a 👎🏻 beside any conference under 30% or over 70%.


  • QRCA, Arizona, January: 19 female, 7 male=73% female (Qual research has more female than male specialists)
  • Qual Worldwide, Spain, May: 20 female, 9 male = 69% female
  • Qual360, Washington, March: 17 female, 11 male speakers = 61% female
  • ESOMAR World, Amsterdam, March: 15 female, 11 male = 58% female
  • Customer Experience Strategies Summit, April: 15 female, 12 male=56% female
  • NewMR Festival, online, February: 16 female, 13 male=55% female
  • TTRA, June, 49 female, 41 male=54% female
  • IMPACT MRS Annual, March:  45 female,  42 male = 52% female
  • ⭐ Market Research Summit, London, May, 18 female, 18 male = 50% female
  • ⭐ ConsumerXscience, The ARF, March, New York, 24 female, 25 male= 49% female
  • ⭐ Africa Forum 2018 AMRA, Nairobi, February: 19 female, 20 male=49% female
  • ⭐ MRMW APAC, June: 9 female, 10 male = 47% female
  • ⭐ MRMW NA, April: 21 female, 24 male = 47% female
  • ⭐ MRIA, Vancouver, May: 25 female, 30 male=45% female
  • Sentiment Analysis Symposium, New York March, 9 female, 10 male=45% female
  • The Insights Show, London, March: 19 female, 25 male= 43% female
  • CX Next, Boston, April:  10 female,  13 male = 43% female
  • TMRE IN FOCUS, Chicago, May: 10 female,  13 male = 43% female
  • Quirks LA, January: 45 female,  63 male=42% female
  • Insights NEXT, April, New York: 28 female, 38 male=42% female
  • Customer Experience & Digital Innovation, San Francisco, April: 5 female, 7 male = 42% female
  • ESOMAR MAIN FEST Latam, Buenos Aires, April:  23 female,  33 male = 41% female
  • Quirks Brooklyn, February: 55 female,  81 male=40% female
  • FUSE Brand & Packaging, New York, April: 19 female, 28 male = 40% female
  • SampleCon, February, Texas: 13 female, 25 male = 39% female
  • IIEX, Amsterdam, February: 50 female, 84 male=37% female
  • Qualtrics experience summit, March, Utah, 32 female, 57 male = 36% female
  • IIEX, Atlanta, June: 44 female, 85 male speakers = 34% female
  • Sysomos Summit, February, New York: 6 female, 12 male=33% female
  • Sysomos Summit, London, April: 4 female, 10 male = 29% female
  • 👎🏻 Insights CEO Summit, January, Florida: 4 female, 13 male = 24% female
  • Insights50, May 2, New York: 1 female, 4 male=20% female
  • 👎🏻 Sawtooth conference, March, Florida, 12 female, 58 male= 17% female


  • MRMW Europe, September:  female,  male = % female
  • PMRC : female, male=% female
  • AMAART Forum, June: female, male=% female
  • AMSRS, September:  female ,  male =% female
  • Big Data & Analytics for Retail Summit, June: female, male=% female
  • CRC, October: female, male=% female
  • CX Talks, October: female, male= % female
  • ESOMAR Big Data World, November: female, male=%female
  • ESOMAR Congress, Berlin, September: female speakers, male speakers =% female
  • ESOMAR Global Qual, November:  female,  male=% female
  • ILC Insights Leadership Conference (Insights Association), September, female, male=% female
  • Insights Corporate Researchers Conference, October, Florida: female, male=% female
  • Insights Leadership Conference, November, San Diego: female, male=% female
  • MRIA Net Gain, November, Toronto: female, male=% female
  • MRMW Europe, November: female, male=% female
  • MRS Driving Transformation Through Insight, October:  female,  male= % female
  • MRS, Customer Summit , November: female, male= % female
  • MRS, Financial, November: female,  male=% female
  • MRS, Methodology in Context, November: female, male=% female
  • Omnishopper International, November, female, male =% female
  • Qual360 APAC, Singapore, October: female,  male=% female
  • Sentiment, Emotional & Behavioral Analytics, July: female, male=% female
  • Sysomos Summit, September: female, male=% female
  • TMRE, October, female, male=% female

Gender Ratios of Years Past:

Four companies that leveraged their employees’ unique skills to build successful, purpose-led brands

Read the original post on the Sklar Wilton & Associates website

Depending on your perspective, someone who is blind, autistic, or has Down Syndrome has disadvantages and challenges in life. Participating in normal life experiences designed for non-disabled and neurotypical people can be annoying or difficult. In a previous post, we talked about how some retailers are designing their services to better suit customers who are disabled. In this post, we flip the tables and instead share examples of purpose-led companies that designed their services and processes to better suit employees who are disabled.

O.Noir is a Toronto restaurant that offers fine dining. But, most customers don’t visit it solely for the food. They go for the experience of wdining in the dark (guests are asked to turn off phones and watches that might emit light), and the accompanying heightened sense of taste it offers. More importantly, the restaurant employs people who are uniquely skilled to manoeuvre around guests balancing trays of food and drinks in pitch-black rooms. The servers at O.Noir are blind or visually impaired. In employing these uniquely skilled people, the restaurant helps them develop customer service and business skills that ultimately help prepare them for the mainstream job market. And, the company donates a percentage of profits to organizations that serve the visually impaired. O.Noir has a clear purpose and they act on it in multiple dimensions. 

The Rising Tide Car Wash company aims to “provide the highest quality car wash experience in America by employing the best people.” How do they do that? They “put potential to work” by employing professionals who have autism, people who have unique skills that enhance the business and make it successful. In contrast with neurotypical people, autistic people are more likely to enjoy following very specific and repetitive processes over a long time, something that is necessary for cleaning and detailing vehicles day after day, month after month. As a result of their hiring plan, the company can offer a higher quality of service and they in turn benefit from lower turnover. So far, Rising Tide has hired 92 associates with autism. They’ve even devoted significant energy into encouraging other businesses to do the same via their road maps for entrepreneurs who want to empower and employ people who have autism.

John’s Crazy Socks is an online business with a purpose led mission to spread happiness by offering socks people love, making the experience personal, providing inspiration and hope, and giving back. Led by John Cronin, who has Down syndrome, the company is staffed by people who have different abilities. In addition to their main business of selling socks, the company works to spread the word about what people can do through videos, school tours, and work groups, and by speaking at conferences, graduations, business meetings, and other events. In addition to John, the company leaders also advocate for changes in law and policy to support the rights of people with differing abilities to work and earn a living. John’s business has been so successful that, in June 2019, he won the prestigious Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 New York award, the first person with Down Syndrome to ever win. Having and acting on a clear purpose has directly led to their success. 

Larger companies like Procter and Gamble have also embraced a mission of inclusion. P&G created a People with Disabilities (PwD) group to support employees who have disabilities. They also work with university recruiting teams to hire people who have disabilities. In fact, one of their manufacturing plants has a department where more than 40% of the employees have a disability, and they intend to expand the model to other sites. In 2014, P&G was recognized by DiversityInc as the #2 company for People with Disabilities.

These are just four examples of companies that have put purpose and people on par with, or ahead of, profit. The winning outcome comes from recognizing and acting on the needs of customers, employees, and employers.

For customers, the company offers a unique experience that shrinks the world just a little bit. At the same time as offering a needed product or service, the process of obtaining that service helps customers gain insight into the world of someone who has a very different life experience. Customers know they’re supporting a purpose-led company that is improving people’s lives.

For employees, the company offers inclusion. Workers gain valuable business management and customer service skills. They build their resumes. And, they too can feel good about providing needed services and being part of a purpose-led company.

For employers, they benefit from the unique, relevant skills their employees offer which make the business successful. They can also feel good that being purpose-led provides employment to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

Purpose and culture create successful businesses. It’s a win, win, win situation.

How being quiet can be your company’s loudest marketing strategy

Read the original post on the Sklar Wilton & Associates website

If you went into a Sobeys store at the right time on the right day, you’d notice something very odd.

You’d notice how quiet it is.

No public announcements. No scanner sounds. No carts being noisily collected. The lights are dim. It’s eerily peaceful and relaxing.

For some people, the quiet is a nice change from the regular loud and bright experience of shopping. But for other people, this is the only time they ever get to experience shopping. For some people on the autism spectrum, the regular noise and lights are far too overwhelming for them to ever step foot in a store. You can get a tiny feel for what that experience is like in the video, Carly’s Café – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes. The quiet environment that Sobeys is offering is their one opportunity to take part in a basic activity that most people do without thinking.

In partnership with autism Nova Scotia, Sobeys originally launched their Sensory Friendly Shopping program in several east coast Canada locations. After a lot of very positive feedback from their targeted audience, as well as many other people, they announced that the program will soon expand across Canada.

Safeway has also begun to implement sensory friendly shopping times, as has No Frills which has gone so far as to ask their employees not to wear scents during that time. Both Safeway and No Frills have also received very positive feedback from their customers and intend to expand their programs.

But the quiet doesn’t stop there. Where else is it quiet?

In movie theatres. Yes, the same places known for decibel readings regularly over 90 and sometimes over 100 (below 85 is deemed reasonably safe).

Theatres like AMC and Cineplex are also screening movies with lower volumes and dimmed lighting which may be more amenable to people on the Autism spectrum.

However, the movie theatres have expanded their target audience further. In some cases, they are also offering change tables, bottle warmers, and stroller parking making it easier for caregivers of babies and toddlers to enjoy movies in the theatre. Now moms, grandpas, aunts, and nephews can bring baby to the theatre without worrying about harming their hearing or annoying the rest of the theatre crowd with the unpredictability of a young one. At these theatres, everyone has informally agreed to the social contract that someone, maybe even their own child, might start screaming or running around at any moment – and that’s okay.

Creating a quiet sensory experience for people on the spectrum or people with babies is an acknowledgment that everyone is different, and that it is possible and appropriate to create retail and service environments where everyone can enjoy an experience. It’s also a reminder of the philosophy that what benefits group of people might actually benefit other larger groups of people.

Sensory friendly supermarkets and movie theatres benefit groups of people who need calm surroundings. For example, around 2% of Canadians fall on the Autism Spectrum, around 2% of Canadians have Alzheimer’s or dementia, about 5% of Canadians deal with anxiety, and around 7% of Canadians experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Having a quiet place for them to shop is an overt display of and respect for inclusion.

Knowing who your consumer is means knowing all of your consumers, not just the majority of people who are able to enjoy your products and services in the same way that you do. And, accommodating for those unique needs means you’ve created opportunities to surprise and delight new, unknown target audiences.


Ready to learn more? Learn how we helped Saint Elizabeth gain a stronger understanding of their target audience and launch a meaningful new brand for healthcare caregivers. Or, download our Triple C™ framework for a template that will help you develop strategies and tactics that are beneficial for the consumer, the customer, and the company.

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Marketing Mary Jane: Innovating in a White Space Consumer Category

Read the original post on the Sklar Wilton & Association website

In 2001, medical marijuana became legal in Canada. People dealing with cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, hepatitis, arthritis, anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and many more serious, long-term ailments had the choice of one more treatment option.

Now more than 18 years later, medical, social, and government personnel have gained a wealth of experience creating regulations and generating in-market data about the health benefits and drawbacks of cannabis.

With that information in his back pocket, Justin Trudeau ran his 2015 campaign for Prime Minister of Canada on a platform that included legal personal use of cannabis. The Trudeau government prepared the Cannabis Act in early 2017 which was well received by 63% of Canadians. And, on October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized for personal use in Canada to huge acclaim as you can see in the Google Trends chart. Cannabis instantly became the definition of marketing white space in Canada.

A blank canvas rarely happens in marketing. Typically, marketing white space refers to gaps in the marketplace where:

  • the needs of one segment of consumers are not being met. Though many products may exist, compete for share of wallet, and serve the needs of various target groups, they might not serve the needs of THAT target group. Perhaps there isn’t a sandwich for vegans or the new homes aren’t accessible for people who have mobility issues.
  • there are gaps in a product line. For example, even if there are many flavours of tea, an orange flavored option might be missing.
  • there is little to no competition. Perhaps one brand of grass seed perfected the production and logistical requirements, weeding out all the competitive brands.

However, in the case of cannabis, the white space was the result of legislation that required that corner of the marketplace to be left completely bare. Suddenly, the white space was available for the taking to whomever could innovate and market most effectively.

In most cases of white space innovation, there is some precedent for the marketing team to work with. In the first three scenarios, marketers could learn which marketing tactics and strategies had failed or succeeded from other brands, SKUs, companies, and similar categories and selectively choose the ones that would be more likely to succeed for them.

However, cannabis had no competitive brands, SKUs, other companies, or even similar categories to learn from in Canada. When it comes to white space, we must be blunt. Cannabis took the cake. Or the brownie.

So how can brands effectively market white space products when there are few to no precedents for comparison? Let’s hash it out.

  1. Ignore your existing business model. Most companies have templated processes for every aspect of their business including product development, marketing, manufacturing, logistics, customer relations, and more. When working towards white space innovation, cast aside your preconceived notions of things ought to work and how they’ve always worked. These pre-existing templates often hinder innovative ideas and prevent the creation of positive solutions.
  2. Know what you’re selling: Marketing cannabis isn’t as simple as proclaiming to people in Canada that you finally have a long-awaited product for sale. Just as Four Seasons and Lexus sell status and luxury, cannabis companies must identify whether they are selling marijuana, socializing with friends, life enhancers, relaxation, experimentation, or something else. Once their brand mission has been identified, they will be able to unlock the difference the brand will make in consumers’ lives, align their culture among cross-functional teams, and have clarity and alignment to a view of the future.
  3. Know your audience: The fact that recreational cannabis is now legal for every adult in Canada does not mean that the target audience is every adult in Canada. Some adults are against the product for personal moral reasons. Others don’t want to risk potential side effects. Some are curious to try it just for fun, and still others are desperate to use it in their attempts to ease the pain of debilitating ailments. Good marketers will recognize there could be many, very different segments within the population, and that they need to identify and understand the unique attributes of the segments they intend to target.
  4. Know what you do well: As with any product or service, being successful comes back to knowing what you do well and focusing your energy there. Four Seasons focuses on and excels with luxury hospitality, not budget overnight stays. Golf Town focuses on and excels with products for golfers, not athletes. And Adidas focuses on and excels with athletic shoes, clothing and accessories, not hockey skates. Identify what you do well and focus there.

Converting white space to successful innovation is a dope process. When you’re ready to find our white space, we’d love to help.


Ready to learn more? Download the Sklar Wilton Plan on a Page for a template that will help you bring together all elements of the marketing plan on one page – from who to win with all the way through to measuring success. Or, learn how we helped Molson Coors better understand consumer segments and develop a winning portfolio strategy with sustainable growth.

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My essential list of 120 inspiring, educational, and human-operated #MRX Twitter accounts

I’m pretty good about curating my Twitter account to be relevant to me and current. When accounts go dormant, the author switches their career, or there’s too much promotion, I unfollow (or mute) those accounts. Given that, the people I follow are at least somewhat active tweeters within the marketing research, polling, data, statistics, visualization, VR, and AI industries.

Within that set, however, there is a core group of people who inspire, teach, or make me rethink what I thought I knew. If you’re looking for the same, may I suggest following every single person on the list below. For quicker following, go right to my Twitter list: https://twitter.com/LoveStats/lists/my-essential-mrx-peeps/members. This list is always changing as I occasionally find new gems.

I also follow a bunch of unrelated, fun accounts so if you want to know what tickles my fancy outside of research (mudlarking, archeology, birds, horrid jokes), have a peek here: https://twitter.com/LoveStats/lists/off-topic-fun

(((Adam Korengold))) @akorengold  Insight generator, PRC.
Adriana Rocha @adricrocha  CEO at eCGlobal, the creator of http://eCGlobal.com , a social network that helps brands & consumers to collaborate and make better data-driven decisions.
Andrew Kohut @AndrewKohut1  Founding Director, Pew Research Center
Andrew Reid @reidandrew  CEO of Rival Technologies | Founder of Vision Critical | Entrepreneur • Innovator • Investor • Husband • Dad • Adventurer
Andrew Vincent @Waves05  Childlike curiosity, insight practitioner, consultant and trainer. Waves on twitter: no blog just 140 characters of opinion (and NOT 280, LESS not MORE).
andrewjeavons @andrewjeavons  text analytics, software development, psychology, cat wrangler and silversmith.
Angus Reid @AngusReid  Chair, Angus Reid Institute, Angus Reid Forum. Passionate about public views on the issues of our times. Prepared to put my own spin on the unfolding dynamic.
Angus Reid @Reid_Angus  Exec Chair @Visioncritical; lifetime pollster @angusreidglobal
Ariel Edwards-Levy @aedwardslevy  Reporter and polling editor @HuffPostPol, covering politics/public opinion. LA native, USC alum, perpetually in search of a pithier Twitter bio. I like puns.
Ashley Kirzinger @AshleyKirzinger  Associate Director for Public Opinion and Survey Research at @kaiserfamfound. Also: @AAPOR’s Transparency Init, #womenalsopoll Elder Millennial. She/Her. Ph.D.
Barb Justason @barbjustason  Pollster follows only active accounts: #Vancouver #VanPoli #BCpoli #Civic #Urban. Justason Market Intelligence & Vancouver Focus®.
Barry Watson @bwatson_erg  President and CEO at Environics Research
Ben Page, Ipsos MORI @benatipsosmori  Chief Exec at Ipsos MORI, Visiting Professor at Kings College London https://www.ipsos-mori.com . Trustee at @centreforlondon and @Ageing_Better
Betty Adamou @BettyAdamou  CEO & Founder @RTG_Ltd Author: Games & Gamification in Market Research http://amzn.to/2LI2H5m  SeriousGame designer. Inventor of ResearchGames™. Keynote speaker
Brian F. Singh @BFSingh  Catalyst/Strategist/Data scientist. Angel investor, food/wine aficionado & (tries to be) decent guy. They/Them.
Bruno Moynié @BrunoMoynie  Ethnographer-filmmaker, inclined to storytelling. Blues & Stinky cheeses lover.
Carol Fitzgerald @carolfitzgerald  President & CEO of @BuzzBack #MRX
Caroline Criado Perez @CCriadoPerez  Lobbyist for Big Vagina. Author of INVISIBLE WOMEN. UK publicist: @lucietwiggs US publicist: publicity[at]http://abramsbooks.com . Agent: tbohan[at]http://wylieagency.co.uk .
Cathy Harrison @VirtualMRX  Insights & Market Intelligence Professional: Creative, skilled, & methodologically agnostic. Holistic approach to exploring complex business concerns #MRX #PMP
Claire Durand @clairedurand  Professeur, dept. de sociologie, U de Montréal; Sondages/ Survey research; Méthodes quantitatives/ Quantitative methods; CECD-CSDC; Past President, WAPOR.
Dan Ariely @danariely  Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics
Dan Foreman @winifredatwell  https://www.linkedin.com/in/dforeman
Dan Womack @DanWomack  Insights, strategy and innovation guy. Fan of meaningful change, informed decisions & vinyl records. #MRX
Danielle Todd @DanielleDDTodd  Account Director @wearerelish. London @WomenInResearch lead. Love great brands that do good, feminism, boxing and wine.
Data Science Renee @BecomingDataSci  Creator/Host of Becoming a Data Scientist Podcast // @DataSciGuide @DataSciLearning @NewDataSciJobs // Personal acct: @paix120 // Data Scientist at @HelioCampus
David Dutwin @DDutwin  Its all about the method – EVP/Chief Methodologist at @ssrs_research
David F. Harris @David_F_Harris  David does training and consulting on questionnaire design and research planning. Author of the book, The Complete Guide to Writing Questionnaires.
David Stark @davidstarkca  Widowed dad, road safety advocate, privacy officer in financial services industry. Co-founded Friends and Families for Safe Streets. #ffsafestreets
Diana Lucaci @dianalucaci  Founder, CEO at True Impact. We humanize the customer and drive growth with consumer neuroscience research.
Diane Hessan @DianeHessan  Entrepreneur, author & angel investor. Founder/Chair of C Space, Boston Globe Columnist, lover of all things baseball & politics. Mom to 2 fabulous daughters.
Director of Global Attitudes Research @pewresearch Jenny C @Jenny_Census
Dr Liz Allen @DrDemography  Demographer | Demography, populations, surveys, data, methods, census. Educator, researcher.
Dydra Virgil @dhvirgil  25 years marketing research experience (qual & quant). Skilled moderator. MBA, Wake Forest University BA Economics, UNC at Chapel Hill
Edward Tufte @EdwardTufte  Statistician,visualizer,artist, professor. Founded Graphics Press, Hogpen Hill Farms, ET Modern Gallery
Edward @Edward04  Consumer Insights Manager based in Berlin
Elina Halonen @SquarePegMind  Consumer behaviour specialist | Neurodivergent | Cross-cultural psychologist
Elizabeth Moore @ms_lizzie  Analyst wrangler, insights professional at Telstra. Choral singer. Lover of classical music, opera, skiing and my family. Opinions my own.
eric salama @ericsalama  ceo of @kantar, leader in global #marketresearch insights and consulting and part of @wpp. governor of @birkbeckUoL dad, arsenal supporter
Finn01 @Finn01  Director General, ESOMAR
Fiona Blades @FionaMESH  Founder & Chief Experience Officer of MESH – The Experience Agency.
Frank Graves @VoiceOfFranky  Frank Graves is the president and founder of EKOS Research Associates. Views here are personal and not those of EKOS Research .
Gian Fulgoni @gfulgoni  Former Chairman & CEO and Co-Founder, comScore. Digital Media, Digital Commerce, Market Research, IRI, Sports, Porsche, Pittsburgh Steelers
griffinsc @griffinsc  Passionate supporter of young creatives and artists, especially in theater.
Hilary Mason @hmason  GM for Machine Learning at @Cloudera. Founder at @FastForwardLabs. Data Scientist in Residence at @accel. I
Howard Fienberg @hfienberg  VP Advocacy for @InsightsMRX and co-director of @CensusProject … tweeting on Hockey, lobbying, sci-fi, horror and #mrx
Ilka Kuhagen @ilkakuhagen  Award Winning Qualitative Research Consultant: Insight | Innovation | Consulting
Its all about the method – EVP/Chief Methodologist at @ssrs_research Andrew Kohut @AndrewKohut1
Jacqueline Rousseau-Anderson @jaranderson  Passionate exec turned strategist who loves helping people get sh*t done.
Jane Frost @JaneFrostMRS  Chief Executive Officer at MRS – the world’s largest research association. Experienced marketer, and champion of all things research. All views are my own.
Jean-Marc Leger @JeanMarcLeger1  Président de la firme de sondages Léger, la plus importante firme de sondages et recherche marketing à propriété canadienne.
Jeffrey Henning @JHenning  Executive director of the MRII, providing continuing education to market researchers worldwide. ~I mark quotes edited to fit Twitter with tildes.~
Jen Romano-Bergstrom @romanocog  Experimental Psychologist; UX Research Director @Bridgewater; Coach; @UXPA_Int Board Mem; Author of ‘Eye Tracking in UX Design’ & ‘Usability Testing of Surveys’
Jenny C @Jenny_Census  I’m a Research Psychologist for the US Census Bureau. Views expressed here are my own!
Joaquim Bretcha @jbretcha  ESOMAR President | Netquest International | Mindprober advisor | HealhtusNepal co-founder #mrx #dataanalytics #connector #communicator
John Crockett @JohnCMRP  modern market researcher who spends too much time talking sports with his dog
John D. Willis @TOjohnw  Inclusive design in services. organizations, and markets. Current work in social service modernization. All tweets are my own opinions.
John Kearon @ChiefJuicer  Founder & CEO of System1 Group PLC [formerly BrainJuicer]
John Wright @JohnWrightLive  30 yrs polling. 40 yrs Public Affairs Communications. Demography. Commentator. Pundit. Political Observer. Absolutely Non Partisan. 3 Bestseller Canadian Books.
johngriffiths7 @johngriffiths7  explorer planner and researcher Planning Above and Beyond Research Liberation Front and Waggledancers are all social objects I am linked to
Jon Cohen @jcpolls  chief research officer @surveymonkey. x-@washingtonpost, @pewresearch @ABCNews, @PPICNotes, @Accenture. Suffering @CalAthletics fan; x-suffering @warriors fan
Jon Puleston @jonpuleston  Vice President Innovation Kantar Profiles division, specialising in the design & development of interactive surveys & online research innovation
Julie K @julie1research  Market strategy & research for F500 tech, platform, fin tech, media, e-commerce brands. Amplifier, listener, socializer, spotter, friend #MRX, #NGMR #NewMR ENTJ
Justine Bulgar-Medina @Bulgar_Medina  Survey Researcher. Sociologist. Researcher @ NORC. #Northeastern alumna. Amateur chef. Bibliophile. And, an overall geek.
KARENE SMITH @ShineyInsights  Leading the creative & efficient insights geekery at Shine Insight – an alternative insights agency. #MRX #visualstorytelling #dataviz #marketresearch
Kathryn Korostoff @ResearchRocks  I get to work with 9 instructors and 100+ consultants, and all of us are aiming for the same thing: advancing customer insights through research excellence.
Kathy Doyle @DoyleResearch  Innovative qualitative research. We are experienced, curious, smart and strategic.
Katie Clark @InsightsGal  Market researcher, digital storyteller, life hacker, productivity nerd, #twinmom, adoption advocate
Kerry Hecht @Kerryhecht  Mom of a human and three dogs. Lifelong market researcher and CEO/Founder of Echo MR
Kevin Gray @kevinsgray999  Andrew Vincent @Waves05
KJ @kristajoyce1114  kicking and screaming
Kristen Olson @olson_km  Survey Methodologist by profession. Sociologist by choice.
Kristen Soltis Anderson @KSoltisAnderson  Polls at @echeloninsights, host on @siriusxm POTUS Ch + @thepollsters + writes for @washingtonexaminer
Kristin Anderson @kanders32  Customer Insights professional in the Women’s Retail Apparel sphere. Curiosity driven. Sometimes athletic, always enthusiastic. All views my own.
Kristin Luck @kristinluck  Serial #entrepreneur turned advisor & #growth strategist. Data monetization pro. Latest project @scale_house. Passion project: @womeninresearch
Kristof De Wulf @kristofdewulf  Co-founder & CEO @InSites l Empowering people to shape the future of brands l @TEDx talker I Former @Vlerick professor I #mrx #insight #innovation #cx #custexp
Laura Davies @lauramdavies  Researcher, marketer, pollster, online community builder & non-profit campaigner, living it up in Essex, but homes away from home in Canada & India. Views own!
Laurent Flores @laurentflores  #Entrepreneur #Digital #Marketing #Analytics #Professor of Marketing #Author #Sailor
Layla Shea @UpwordsInsights  Chief Insights Officer and founder of Upwords. Curious about everything.
Leonard Murphy @lennyism  Thinker, Doer, Leader, Advisor, Investor. Insight innovation junkie. Dad to 5 and proud uber-geek.
Lisa Horwich @PallasResearch  B2B Researcher | Strategist | Marketer | Moderator | Martial Arts Enthusiast
Lisa Wilding-Brown @WildingBrown  Lisa Wilding-Brown
LKHDavison @lkhdavison  Founder, MD @keenasmustard marketing agency for data, research and insight. Formerly @keenasmustard now me. Fan of Radio4 and tea, builder’s please
Marcello Sasso @marcellosasso  VP, Aimpoint Research, Market Research Thought Leader
Mario Canseco @mario_canseco  Mario Conseco
Mark Blumenthal @MysteryPollster  Pollster. Husband. Father. Cyclist. Formerly: SurveyMonkey, Huffington Post, http://Pollster.com , political consultant (D).
Michael Link @MLink01  Dad, drummer, foodie, registered drone pilot — Views are my own.
Molly Brodie @Mollybrodie  Mollyann Brodie | Kaiser Family Foundation (@KaiserFamFound) Sr VP Exec Operations & Exec Director, Public Opinion & Survey Research | @AAPOR President
Natalie Jackson @nataliemjb  Research Director @PRRIpoll (opinions my own) | polisci PhD |
Nicole Radziwill @nicoleradziwill  VP Quality & SCM #rstats #wx #machinelearning #IIoT #EHSQ #datascience #asd UNI’92 & 50% Nichól Ní Radsibhfuil! http://qualityandinnovation.com
Niels Schillewaert @niels_insites  Managing Partner, co-founder InSites Consulting | Author & Speaker | PhD | Research Geek | Change Executive Thinking via Consumer Consulting
Nikki Lavoie @NikkiMindspark  Me, but professional me. Globe-trotting Managing Director of @mindsparklab. Conduit of human connection. American in Paris.
Oana Rengle @OanaRengle  Qualitative Research Fairy
Ol’ Man Crosstabs @OldSchoolMRX  Research the way it should be done.
Paul Fairie @paulisci  Sometimes I teach politics, more often I tweet jokes.
Peter Harrison @Peter_Harrison  Behaviour Change, branding & Insights person. Opinions / sense of humour my own and statistically speaking likely to be shared by you if you choose to follow
pollcat @pollcat  AKA Scott Keeter. Senior survey advisor to Pew Research Center. Lapsed political scientist. Bad golfer. Hiker. Same colleges as Steph Curry & Michael Jordan.
Rana el Kaliouby @kaliouby  Entrepreneur. Scientist. Co-founder and CEO @Affectiva. On a mission to humanize technology with #EmotionAI – YGL at WEF. #CV #ML #DeepLearning #womenintech
RayPoynter @RayPoynter  At the intersection of work, fun & discovery. Founder #NewMR – my core activities are consulting, learning, training, writing, and having fun.
Reg Baker @thesurveygeek  Market, opinion and social research maven, contrarian, avid birder, photo enthusiast and music lover
Reineke Reitsma @rreitsma  Forrester Analyst. Interested in anything related to consumer behavior, technology change, and market research – preferably in combination
Richard Wike @RichardWike  Director of Global Attitudes Research @pewresearch
Rick Hobbs @rhobber  Research, Analytics, Sports. Views are my own.
Robert M. Groves @RobertMGroves  Provost of Georgetown’s main campus, professor in mathematics and statistics, and sociology. His blog can be found at http://blog.provost.georgetown.edu
S Saurage-Altenloh @SaurageFacts  Trendspotter. Research strategist. Networking junkie. Lover of music, wine, fast cars, motorcycles, art and my Constitutional rights. MBA, PhD…
Scott Koenig @Scott_Koenig  Marketing storyteller, educator, researcher, and community volunteer helping businesses and individuals reach their potential.
Shannon Danzy @sdanzy  Sharing my curiosity abt culture, brands + people | Online qualitative research specialist | Brand strategist | Co-Chair, QRCA Young Pro Committee + NY Chapter
Siamack Salari @SiamackSalari  Outsider, Ethnographer, dad, cook, lover. Visiting Fellow Dept of Management Kings College London. EthOSapp creator.
Sima Vasa @simavasa  Passionate, curious, successful leader focused on elevating the data, #mrx and analytics ecosystem. Entrepreneurship, Investment Banking, Advisor, Podcast Host
Stan Sthanunathan @ssthanunathan  Strategy, Insights, advanced analytics, big data and Impact. Humour, Laughter and Optimistic view of life. Self proclaimed shopaholic!
Stas Kolenikov @StatStas  Survey statistician. Views are not my employer’s (@AbtAssociates @AbtDataScience). Looking forward to opportunities to collect data for you. [stas kɐlʲ’enʲikɐv]
Sue York @1sue3  Helping Create the Future of Research. Author of ‘The Handbook of Mobile Market Research’. Founder of #NewMR. Social and Market Researcher.
Susan Abbott @SusanAbbott  Facilitator, quallie, author, artist. http://thinkglobalqualitative.com  | http://sgabbott.com  | http://ca.linkedin.com/in/susanabbott  political: @mspundit
SusanSweet @SusanSweet  Qualitative research consultant who loves travel, food, coffee and her kids. Can be found here: susan@sweetinsightgroup.com
Tom De Ruyck @tomderuyck  Managing Partner @InSites | Creating Consumer-Centric Thinking, Future Proof Organisations | Keynote Speaker | Author | Prof. @IESEG | Investor @SpeakersBaseHQ
Tom Ewing @tomewing  Pop writer, market researcher, lazybones. He/him.
Trent Buskirk @trentbuskirk  Data Science Renee @BecomingDataSci
Trina Arnett @trinalytics  Perpetually curious and passionate researcher, data junkie, visualization wonk, analytics geek.
Vanessa Oshima @VOshima70  Kiwi that loves Japan, her husband and kids … and life in general … motto is to never let it beat you … try hard enough it will join you!
Zontziry Johnson @zontziry  #MRX influencer. Lifelong learner. Mother. Sewer. Sci-fi and boardgame geek. Call me Z! All tweets are my own opinion and craziness.
CEO @abacusdataca Prof @Carleton_U. Speaker with @speakersdotca #cycling, #strategy, #cdnpoli, #marketing, #foodie, #wine, & #Millennials.

Dear Technology Vendors, Welcome to the Market Research Industry #MRX #NewMR #IIeX

You are the delighted owner and inventor of an amazing new technology that will turn the market research industry around. Now all you have to do is simply show it to research buyers and reap the rewards. But with hundreds of new vendors popping up every year, it’s not that easy.

Here a few pieces of advice that might help.

  • Your tool and your service is not new nor better. Every new vendor is positive that their tool is a brand new, amazing innovation that solves a problem no other vendor can. It’s not. There are at least five other technology companies out there doing pretty much the same thing albeit with a slightly different yet similarly hip name that verbifies some word. You just haven’t heard of each other yet. But some of your research buyers have. Along with many research suppliers who have been in the market research industry for ten or twenty years. They know better than you and whether they confess it, selling yourself as unique is not reality.
  • You’re a research company. If you sell products and services that help researchers and marketers understand companies, consumers, customers, and markets, you’re not a technology company. You’re a market research company. That’s not an insult. That’s knowing what your business is and who your clients are. Saying you’re a technology company sure sounds cool though, doesn’t it.
  • Speak the language. You are part of the market research industry. Be proud of that fact. Learn the language. Learn what box scores, test groups, control groups, confounds, sampling, targeting, order effects, experimenter effects, validity, reliability, and other basic research terms mean. These are your terms too. When you can use these words properly, you’ll be able to talk to your potential clients quickly and clearly. And get to the sales discussion more quickly.

Hands cooperating

  • Complements over criticisms. One common technique for promoting a new tool is to outline the flaws of existing tools and show how using your tool instead eliminates those problems, thereby rendering the old and tired tools irrelevant. But chances are those old, traditional tools still exist because for decades they have served a genuine, much needed purpose that cannot be met by other tools. Including your tool. Focus on how your tool can complement existing tools rather than criticizing those tools. Collaboration, not cut-throat. Friends, not enemies. We’re still going to use those ‘out-dated’ tools so don’t make us feel stupid for doing so.
  • Make it easy to switch. So if you’re no better and no different than a bunch of other vendors, why would anyone bother with your tool over anyone else’s? Because you’ve made it EASY to add it to their toolbox. You’ve incorporated language into the tool that makes sense to researchers – test and control, randomization, box scores. The tool creates familiar charts that mirror charts from other projects they’ve done – bar charts, line charts. It easily imports and exports into other tools they are already comfortable with – Excel, SPSS, PPT, R, SQL. You’ve prepared case studies and white papers showing reliability and validity by categories they understand – consumer packaged goods, finance, pharma, food, beverage. And best of all, when a client puts their traditional output next to your output, their CEO would be able to transition between the two reports with complete ease and comfort.

Ready to make a deal?

AI News Marketers Can Use: I hope your key marketing strategy for 2019 includes voice!

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton blog.

Take a minute to think about every car commercial you’ve ever seen. Close your eyes. Let the imagery percolate. Now watch this commercial.

Is that the PRECISE commercial you just imagined? Probably.

That’s because Lexus used AI to create a commercial based on a training dataset of award winning car commercials. The commercial is effective for several reasons. First, the AI system that produced the script correctly identified the criteria that would win with its target audience. Second, a human director, Kevin Macdonald, applied emotional creativity to weave together the required components. And third, incorporating AI into the creative development process is the perfect way for Lexus to demonstrate how the use of cutting edge technology to build vehicles. This AI commercial is completely on brand.

AI exploded into nearly every industry and under many Christmas trees last year. After witnessing the massive sales of voice assistants last year, and now this holiday season, marketers are starting to realize they must figure out how products and services that are overwhelmingly visual can find a space in an environment that is completely audio. Some marketers are striving to decode the voice assistant algorithms to ensure their brands earn first mention. Other brands are creating fun games or useful tools that consumers will seek out by name.

Survey Says: 11% of Canadians own a smart speaker. 18% plan to purchase a Google Home, and 14% plan to purchase an Amazon Echo. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Despite earlier concerns about transparency and privacy, Google has begun to roll out its Duplex feature, an AI voice system can make telephone calls that are indistinguishable from a human being. This system can interact with customers and customer service agents to, at a minimum, make reservations and answer basic questions. It’s an amazing opportunity for brands to more effectively meet the needs of customers who want 24/7, personalized service.

 Survey Says: 55% of Canadians would find it annoying if they get a chatbot instead of a person. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Along with this growth, stress tests in the real world have exposed many issues of bias, privacy, and compliance with emerging privacy regulations. Amazon’s Alexa experienced this first hand when a woman’s private in-home conversations were sent to a random person on her contact list. This is likely one of the contributing factors that led to Gartner selecting Social, Legal and Ethical IoT as its #2 trend.

Survey Says: 43% of Canadians are worried about AI their phone. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

Marketers who are reticent to find their path in a voice directed world will quickly see the impact on their brand’s success. We know that people are less likely to seek out additional information after getting recommendations from voice assistants. Marketers need to find ethical ways to ensure their brand remains competitive in a voice world and they need to do it in a way that safeguards personal data.

Survey Says: 59% of Canadians say they would be comfortable with a voice assistant providing recommendations on what to buy. (The Marketers Guide to Successful AI, Sklar Wilton & Associates, to-be-released-soon)

How to win the battle between privacy and personalization

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

We’ve been hearing for years that if you get something for free, you are the product. But for a lot of people, that adage never really sunk in until the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company was accused of misusing and failing to secure Facebook data from more than 71 million people.

Before the scandal erupted, Canadians were perhaps complacent about privacy. But, this Google Trends chart shows a stark reversal beginning in March 2018. Now, though interest in Cambridge Analytica has quickly dropped off, searches related to privacy continue to rise.

google trends

Privacy and personalization create a double-edged sword. For many people, personalization is what you get when emails and newsletters address you by your first name. Our names have been public information since the day we were named, so we don’t normally feel a huge loss of privacy when someone we don’t know uses that information. And for the 2 BILLION people who use Facebook, the personal data we share on that website, from friends and family to favourite musicians and politicians, is shared under the assumption that it will be safe and secure within the website.

But for early adopters who have plunged head first into all that technology has to offer, the broader application of personalization is the magic that happens with a voice activated home assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Echo, Apple’s HomePod, or Google Home. When you literally tell a small electronic device such as Alexa to order more slow cooked beef pot roast, personalization of this device means that it recognizes YOUR voice. It knows that you usually buy pot roast from M&M Food Market. It uses your saved credit card numbers and places the order to be delivered to your home after 6pm that day. That instant gratification is the ultimate goal of personalization. And the consequence is the ultimate loss of privacy.

Many of us willingly give up our most personal and risky details to companies and brands, because we love them and believe that the relationship improves our lives. We give those companies our kids’ names and our credit card numbers because it makes things easier and lets us spend our time doing the things we want to do in the way we want to do them.

On the other hand, personalization can sometimes be a less than wonderful thing. Social media games that ask for personal information such as pets’ names, favourite activities, authors, books, and more, probably are used to tell you which celebrity you’re most similar to. But, in some cases, these data are also used to profile your shopping personalities and determine which products and services you could be persuaded to buy. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But in some cases, these data could be used to facilitate serving deliberately slanted or misleading information. As we are discovering from the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

We need to find a happy medium.

We know that privacy standards, even when very strict and enforced, are not always sufficient to safeguard data. We know that we share too much information with websites we don’t completely trust. We know that laptops get forgotten, lost, and stolen allowing access to files and software that are highly confidential. We know that hackers around the world are actively trying to access private information, whether for fun, status, or malice. Privacy with technology is impossible.

The happy medium lies in giving consumers good options. Companies that are willing to put in the work to earn consumer trust will enjoy long-lasting success. Consumers will reward companies that have a track record of good behaviour, and quick and friendly customer service. Consumers will even reward companies that make the occasional privacy or security mistake as long as the desired and necessary apologies are quick, genuine, and the resolutions are purposeful.

It might cost more to create winning customer service experiences, and build appropriate compromises between personalization and privacy, but the reward is loyal consumers. And nothing is more valuable than that.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.


From Bumbling Dad to Human Being: How advertisers are finally giving dads their due

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

As a kid, my dad played catch with me every day after work in the summer, took me to swimming lessons every weekend in the winter, made me wiener soup for lunch when my mom spent a day doing her own thing, and spent hours with me picking elective classes in highschool (history, because I was going to be the next Indiana Jones). I personally can’t relate to the bumbling dads portrayed in ads I watched growing up.

To a far greater extent five and ten years ago, men have been portrayed as incompetent fathers who couldn’t properly feed a child or do simple cleaning tasks around the home. That historical model in the marketing space used to match some segments in real life such that it made no sense to extend parental leave to dads – it was presumed that dads couldn’t take care of the kids and the home anyways. It made no sense to strive for equality in the workplace when there seemed to be none in the home. As the saying going, you cannot do what you cannot see.

However, a study released by Statistics Canada shows that men’s roles in the family have changed starkly over the last forty years, particularly in terms of how many dads are stay-at-home dads. Compared to 1976 when stay-at-home-dads were 1 in 70 of all stay-at-home parent families, today that number is 1 in 10. If you consider households where the mom is employed, nearly 11% of dads today are the caregivers compared to only 1.4% forty years ago (see chart). It’s a consistent trend across all of Canada. If they ever truly were bumbling dads, dads today are regular human beings doing regular child-rearing and home case activities. Dads are changing diapers, buying groceries, cooking meals, cleaning toilets, and are viable audiences and target groups for pretty much every product category. These are all real spaces for companies to grow their business simply by reaching out to their current audience, not just their historical audience.

Advertising leaders in the United Kingdom also have a hard time relating to the stereotype of the bumbling dad and they have decided to do something about it. The Advertising Standards Authority released a report exploring harm arising from media gender stereotypes that “relate to body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles, and mocking people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.” The organization intends to create new standards for ads that incorporate stereotypical behaviours. For instance, ads that might not meet the new standards include those that:

  • Depict family members creating a mess while a woman has the sole responsibility for cleaning it up.
  • Suggest that an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys or vice versa.
  • Feature a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks

In another initiative, Unilever, UN Women, Mars, and Alibaba have bound together in the ‘Unstereotype Alliance’ to do their part to stop stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising. In their research , Unilever’s chief marketing and communications Officer Keith Weed notes that progressive ads are 25% more effective and deliver “better branded impact.”

It’s been truly heartwarming to see brands plan for this change and make huge strides in response to the evolution of gender roles. Over the last couple of years, brands have begun to make great efforts to ensure their ads are more representative of the current population, They are focusing more on the way things really are today as opposed to taking the easy way out by using the stereotypes that have existed for innumerable decades.

When it comes to gender, and dads in particular, newer ads have begun to focus on men and dads not as lazy, ignorant bystanders or handsome supermodels with ripped abs, but rather as equal partners taking on their share of responsibilities in the home, and as human beings who genuinely care about the other people in their lives. Newer ads present dads in a manner that reflect today’s reality. Dads who don’t have time to go to the gym every day because they’re taking kids to hockey practices, piano lessons, and library sessions. Dads who turn on the oven and feed the kids while mom puts her feet up after a long day behind the welding visor.

Tide has fully embraced this trend with its television commercials. For instance, in this commercial, though mom and dad are packing suitcases together, it’s the dad who is first to speak up and take action when his daughter, and then his son, needs some last minute laundry done.

This Motts Fruitsations commercial shows a dad taking on the grocery shopping duties. Not only is he caring for his baby at the same time as every mom has always does, he is fully aware of what his other children are up over the rest of the week including their karate and gymnastics classes, and sleepovers.

This Dove commercial shows many dads including their young children, both boys and girls, in a huge range of non-stereotypical activities. From dancing with them in front of the TV, gleefully terrifying them in a plane or race car, pushing their wheelchair through a skateboard park, or saving them from crashing after a fall, these dads share joy and passion with their young ones regardless of whether ‘girls do that’ or ‘boys do that.’

And, if you need something to wipe away the tears and put some fun into your soul, enjoy this last commercial from Ikea. The young boy is clearly disappointed when he tells his dad that mom cooked macaroni all week. And of course, dad saves the day with a beautifully prepared meal. You’ll just have to watch the rest of the ad to see the conclusion!

I quite love these new portrayals of dads in the media. It’s a great reminder that stereotypes don’t always reflect current trends. Sometimes you need to really push beyond tradition to reach the broader set of your consumers. If you’d like cast aside stereotypes and find out who your consumers of today are, we’d love to help you. Please get in touch!

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.


Shhhh…. A Post in Which We Reveal the Midi-chlorians of Questionnaire Design

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

There are no midi-chlorians when it comes to questionnaire design.

Sigh. I’m sad to start the post like that but it’s true. There are no Jedi mind tricks that will make people generate better questionnaire data. There are no sacred texts on the market research version Ahch-To containing that one single piece of advice that will allow someone who’s never written a questionnaire before to create an effective questionnaire that generates actionable outcomes. The only Force at our disposal is careful training as a Padawan and years of experience. Fortunately, as a questionnaire Jedi Knight myself, having years of experience does mean that I can share a few tidbits I’ve learned along the way, tidbits not necessarily found in an academic textbook. So here goes.

spaceQuestionnaires aren’t about grammatically perfect writing: After perhaps two decades of primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate school, many of us have learned an abundance of grammar and writing skills that we’ve been told are essential for clear communication. Don’t end sentences in a preposition. Don’t use sentence fragments. Don’t start sentences with ‘and.’ However, as questionnaire writers, we have a very specific goal: To write questions and answers that are understandable to as many people as possible. And sometimes, that means joining the Dark Side and ignoring the rules we’ve struggled to follow for years. With that in mind, when there isn’t a good alternative, it is indeed okay to write questions that end in prepositions!

  • Which country do you live in? [Or better, ask “Where do you live?”]
  • Which of these have you heard of?
  • Which of these have you seen before?

Questionnaires aren’t about professional and formal writing: Of course we want research participants to recognize that the questionnaire they’re completing is important and should be taken seriously. However, formal language can be a deterrent to questionnaire completion, particularly for people whose reading skills don’t match the writing skills of the researcher. Besides, participating in a research questionnaire ought to feel like entertainment, not like a 30-minute life skills exam. Banish that language to a life locked in carbonite and instead, choose a casual language style that people will feel comfortable with. (Oh, see what I did with that preposition!) You need to avoid slang, idioms, and inside jokes that are meaningless without context, but you can certainly inject a bit of casual but relevant humour along the way.

  • Are you ready to chat about carpet cleaners and vacuums? It might be a boring topic but we all need a clean home!

Questionnaires aren’t about comprehensive questions: Sometimes, in our attempts to be clear and focused, we end up writing questions that are long and complicated, subsequently making it difficult for people to deconstruct and comprehend the intention behind asking the question in the first place and causing the resulting data to be riddled with quality issues. The alternative is to break sentences apart. Short sentences make comprehension accessible to everyone. People who are reading in a second language can understand short sentences. People who have different reading skills can understand short sentences. Be part of the resistance when it comes to long questions and long answers. If our goal is comprehension, short sentences are always preferred.

  • In the last month, how many large bottles of detergent did you buy? (A large bottle is 1 litre or 1 kilogram or more. Please include liquid and powder detergent.)

Questionnaires aren’t about category comprehensiveness: When you start thinking all the questions that could be answered, it’s easy to stretch a 5-minute questionnaire into a 35-minute questionnaire. Use the force to avoid this inclination. Short questionnaires retain the interest and attention of participants and therefore generate much better data. Cut every question you know you won’t act on. Cut every question that won’t generate an actionable outcome. Cut all the ‘nice to know’ and ‘I wonder whether’ questions. If the questionnaire still requires more than 15 minutes to complete, then you need to move to step two – figure out whether it can be cut it into pieces. That could mean giving twice as many people half as many questions, or spreading the questionnaire out over multiple occasions.

Quality questionnaire writing is a rare skill: Whether it’s designing marketing strategies that double the business in one year, accurately translating mission statements into six languages, or writing effective questionnaires, everyone is a Jedi at something. Jedi Knights in the research industry have written entire textbooks on how to create a good questionnaire. They’ve witnessed thousands of fatal errors across many different categories and industries, and know many of the common and obscure mistakes. Even better, Jedi Masters have learned a plethora of techniques to counteract hundreds of cognitive biases that prevent people from answering truthfully. They’ve acquired a unique skill of ensuring questionnaires will meet specific needs and generate the best possible data quality. If your research outcomes are intended to feed into major decisions impacting the health of your business, it is essential that you seek out the advice of Jedi Master questionnaire writers.

And with these tips firmly entrenched, may the survey force be with you!


Annie Pettit, PhD, FMRIA, is a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. She helps marketers build research tools that facilitate clear and direct answers to key questions and problems.

Sklar Wilton & Associates has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them solve tough business challenges to unlock growth and build stronger brands. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Recognized as the number one Employee Recommended Workplace among small private employers by the Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell in 2017, SW&A achieved ERW certification again in 2018.

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