Meet the finalists: Qual Street: A year in the life – doing research slowly
Having spent most of her career exploring FMCG brands and new product development, Kath Rhodes is used to projects with a fast turnaround. But she’s always been intrigued to discover what insights a long-term study would yield. Working as an independent enabled Kath to make that dream a reality.
Kath Rhodes is a commercial researcher with 20 years’ experience. She set up Qual Street to have total freedom to run research projects the way she wanted to. Qual Street provides original research mainly to the FMCG, retail and financial sectors. Kath loves working with clients who are passionate about research and fascinated by the insights that are generated.
‘As an independent, I can make sure I use the right methodology for each project,’ she says. ‘I can be flexible on cost to bring the best approach within a client’s budget. And I can challenge a brief to make sure the client genuinely gets the best from the project.’
Working independently also enables Kath to invest 20% of her work time learning about social sciences, behavioural economics and psychology, and using the learning to benefit her clients.
‘Market research needs big businesses,’ says Kath, ‘but it needs micro-businesses too, because we can do things differently, and challenge conventional thinking.’
The Year in the Life Project
Kath had always wanted to take her research deeper and see what insights she could uncover with a long-term project. So, together with fellow qualitative researcher Ambreen Aziz, she launched the self-funded Year in the Life Project. This year-long, in-depth qualitative study of mums who are just about managing (with money) was designed to understand their lives as mums, women and consumers.
The project explored consumer behaviour as it happened: witnessing new products adopted and the influence of social networks on behaviour; and identifying the patterns in daily life that we don’t get to see in quick ‘in-and-out’ research.
Kath and Ambreen spent more than 1,000 hours immersed in the lives of nine women. The women shared their thoughts with each other via an online community, undertook weekly tasks and experiments, and kept personal, food and shopping journals.
The Qual Street team visited them in their homes, shopped with them and phoned them regularly. They learned that they needed to employ different research methods for each woman in order to get the most insight from each individual.
Personality drives consumer choices
The project provided insights into the changing nature of brands and how women are responding to financial restrictions. One of the biggest insights was the reminder that people don’t identify as consumers first and foremost. What matters to them is their social place in the world and their relationships with others. The project also highlighted how personality is a key driver of consumer choices.
Qual Street is now sharing their insights via workshops and a dedicated website.
A generous community of 400 experts
Kath joined The ICG early in her independent journey after an associate recommended it. ‘It’s a very generous community where people are open in answering questions,’ she says. ‘There’s a huge amount of resources on the website and there are 400 experts available to call on for projects.’
About The Independents’ Day Award
Qual Street is one of four independent research consultancies shortlisted for the 2018 Independents’ Day Award. The Award, run jointly by the Independent Consultants Group (ICG) and the Market Research Society (MRS), is designed to recognise the contribution of researchers working as independents.
The winner will be announced at the annual MRS Awards dinner on Monday 3 December.
Qual Street website: http://www.qual-street.co.uk