The number of channels and analytical tools we can use to assess markets, networks, products and policies multiplies exponentially every year. At Ellis Jones we use many of them, regularly.
In our experience as a market research company, we have found that, when your community is well defined, networked and influenced by identifiable forces, there is no compromise for engagement.
People like to share their opinions; however, to be candid requires trust. Once trust is established, the flow of information and access to social or professional networks acts as a continuous source of insight and a better product, service or program for the communities with whom you engage.
We never lose sight of the power of nuance in research: not only in questioning but when creating an environment for information exchange. Market research is personal. I want to be satisfied you will reach my expectations. I want the outcome to work for both of us. We all buy products and demand government services, so why wouldn’t we want input on their development? This a powerful proposition when effectively put in a context of change.
Over many years working across different markets, populations and demographics, Ellis Jones has developed a highly effective model of research we call Research as Engagement. It gets deep insight while establishing valuable stakeholder and customer relationships for our clients. These are its core elements.
From subject experts to local neighbours, people willingly participate in research when the purpose fulfils their needs and desires or appeals to their values. We establish shared purpose by undertaking preliminary scoping research to understand the economic and social environment, influencing factors and opinion leaders. When we engage, we are speaking directly to the needs of respondents. We are creating a sense of belonging.
It is very unlikely in market and social research that one method gets the kind of deep understanding an organisation or executive needs to make a key decision. We use a blend of research methods with a preference for inter-personal when influence is required. Our web design and development team can quickly deploy microsites hosting forums and visual diaries, our in-field teams use tablet technology to dramatically reduce the turnaround time for data compilation and analysis and our social media practice builds co-creation networks.
We are all fundamentally attracted to something that sounds, looks and is exciting. An integrated agency, we give our projects a name, a logo and a home online. We back research with messaging and materials that communities can share to boost participation levels, achieving sample size and segmentation. By applying branding and communication theory, a groundswell of support for the outcomes extends way beyond the project. That’s ‘adding value’.
Traditionally, the lag time between research cycle and actual policy or product release has been anywhere from a year upwards. But markets move too fast now. People have an expectation that responses are timely. We don’t accept queues. Research has to be nimble, with results funnelled into development teams as it is generated. At the same time, if a population is not aware and willing to listen or experience the outcome, more time is required for education. Research as Engagement prepares the market. We communicate with stakeholders through the project to build brand awareness and trust. And we gain a licence for further communication – whether product launch or policy implementation.
The consumer knows best. They know what they want, where and when they want it, and how much they are willing to pay. The job of a government or business is economically viable fulfilment of consumer need. But social trends change community attitudes and technology changes behaviour. How to stay abreast and meet the growing demand for consumption? Research as Engagement establishes a platform for continuous idea generation and testing; a welcoming space for consumers to pose questions and suggestions. We use methods and channels that work for the participant and client, like social media and innovation workshops.
Do not settle for a 15 minute survey when much more value can be gained by Research as Engagement.