Award for Independent Consultants 2023: We have our Finalists!

11 Oct 2023 | ICG Award

From 18 genuinely superb submissions this year, the ICG judges, alongside those from the MRS, whittled the Finalists down to 5 worthy contenders:

In surname alphabetical order:

Kath Coles (White Rabbit Research), Nick Bonney (Deep Blue Thinking) and  Annabelle Philips (AP Research)

Helping children play their way

The Children’s Coaching Collaborative (CCC) is a collection of coaches, educators and policymakers who have come together to kickstart coaching in children’s sport from the ground up. Along with Sport England, they were keen to develop a campaign that would empower coaches to adopt a more ‘child first’ approach to coaching, with the aim of reducing drop-out rates and boosting greater life-long participation. Critically, the campaign had to reach groups where participation is typically lower, such as girls’ team sports, disability sports, under-privileged areas and ethnic minorities.  In order to best fulfill the project objectives, White Rabbit Research created a specialist team of highly skilled researchers.  Our approach was split into 2 stages, the first providing in depth exploration of how coaches currently operate, using a mixed methodology of online group discussions, extended face to face sessions with audiences that required a greater level of depth / sensitivity and ethnographic video footage. From this we identified different audience needs as well as a preferred strategic route (Play Your Way), which was worked up into different creative options for stage two. Online groups were then conducted, with diversity again at the heart of our recruitment strategy.  From these sessions we were able to provide clear direction for both a digital film and supporting assets. To ensure longevity from our research, we also developed guiding principles which the team could use to inform future creative development.  The full launch campaign has already received nearly half a million unique views on YouTube; supporting this, the associated online portal ( allows coaches to customise their experience based on their current behaviour and attitudes towards coaching, in line with the differing needs identified throughout our study.  The research has also had a significant impact on us as researchers. Whilst the recruitment challenges of reaching such a broad and diverse sample were considerable, we would not have achieved the same the level of richness had we decided to ‘play it safe’. As researchers, it was a humbling and inspiring experience to witness the impact coaches can have on young people’s lives, especially in often highly challenging environments and under difficult circumstances.

Stephanie Holland, (SGS Research & Strategy)

Codifying connection for a better night’s sleep

Almost half of all new parents in the UK & USA state sleep deprivation has had the biggest impact on their mental health since becoming a parent*.

That’s why we were excited to help our client rethink their baby sleep solution which was ‘better’ than the competition (with stronger reviews / comparable price / distribution) yet performing behind the market leader. Myths aplenty they needed clarity to focus resources on the activities that would have the biggest impact on babies, parents and brand, without losing what was working.

By integrating independent expertise across ethnography, semiotics, interviews, review analytics and quantitative research we were able to visualise parents’ journey through an experience map and demonstrate the power (yet lack) of emotional connection. By taking this further into a 4-stage strategic plan, we achieved buy in and facilitated transformational change through a relaunch, which has already exceeded commercial expectations.

Sally Kemkers and Deirdre Walters, Untapped Innovation

How research-led innovation helped BookTrust reach disadvantaged children

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, had an ambitious five-year strategy to further their work with families from low-income or vulnerable backgrounds. Untapped Innovation conducted innovative qualitative research amongst Booktrust target families, alongside semiotic analysis and social listening and fed the resulting insights into co-creative ideation and prototyping.   The outcome for BookTrust was multiple appealing ideas and three actionable tools to assess future innovation, that have changed the organisational mindset and will guide the charity for years to come.

Debbie Moorcroft, Moorcroft MR

Hft: Evolving a charity to meet future needs of people with learning disabilities

Hft, who provide services to adults with learning disabilities, challenged us to design a programme of group discussions and an online survey which would be very widely accessible. A key aim was to identify what people with learning disabilities want in future, their aims and aspirations, and what this charity can do to support them to achieve these. We adapted existing methods in both qualitative and quantitative research for our participants with learning disabilities and complex needs. This audience is often overlooked, by market research, and by society as a whole. As a result of the research, Hft have begun work on revising their branding and services. This is firmly rooted in the insights we provided, so that their brand identity, messaging and communications will have the greatest chance of resonating with their key audiences.

Adam Pearson and Emma Slater, PS Research

How PS Research helped Cumbria’s third sector tell the story of their multi-million-pound participant-led employment programme 

We’re Adam and Emma, two independent researchers who came together with a vision that blending our quantitative and qualitative skills could have more impact. Using mixed methods research, we helped Cumbria Community and Voluntary Service (CVS) to understand and evidence the impact of a multi-million-pound participant-led employability programme. This is being used to shape the way similar projects are delivered in the area, strengthen funding bids and start conversations with the NHS about tackling barriers to employment locally. It was also about more than just delivering the research. We supported Cumbria CVS to improve their practices, shared valuable insights with the local third sector and ran pro-bono evaluation clinics for small charities and voluntary organisations in the area.


More info about the Award can be found here.