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5 Questions with Qualitative Moderator Eileen Sullivan

Posted by Savannah House

Wed, May 16, 2018

Meet Eileen_new_cropped

I recently sat down with Eileen Sullivan, CMB's newest Qualitative Moderator, to learn more about her experience, perspective on storytelling, and what she's most excited about in the world of qual.

SH: Tell me a little bit about your experience, what drew you to qualitative research?

ES: It wasn’t until my junior year of undergrad, when I studied abroad in Vietnam, that I discovered anthropology. The study of culture–and all the implicit and explicit ways it shapes human experience–was a perspective that immediately resonated with me. After school, I worked for some years as a buyer in the retail space, but ultimately returned to pursue my MA in medical anthropology, researching health outcomes associated with marketing “beauty” to women. A career in consumer insights became a natural extension of those interests. I feel quite lucky to spend my time digging into this dynamic space where psychology and culture meet to shape the way we live, how we think, and what we buy. Before I came to CMB, I was with LRW and later Basis LA, working with clients such as Chase, Estée Lauder, Facebook, Hulu, LEGO, and Whirlpool, among others.

SH: What qual tools and methods are you excited about right now?

ES: While qualitative has always been iterative to a degree–the ability to throw out a guide or revamp stimuli on the fly–we’re now making great strides to scope research that is agile from the outset. It’s exciting to execute studies that put consumer feedback at the center of research design–first identifying the problem and its root cause, and then hypothesizing solutions. Within this framework, there are some great digital tools that enable researchers to look over a consumer’s shoulder, fascinating AI tools that offer the potential for scalable qual, and innovative forms of “traditional” qualitative as well, like agile co-creation and ideation sessions. There’s been a lot of focus in our industry on “breaking down the glass” – putting clients face-to-face with their consumers. It’s critical for not only engaging our research clients, but their internal stakeholders as well. The reality is that great research is useless if no one uses it, but I think an agile research framework makes the process more inclusive and collaborative, and ultimately delivers greater benefit to both client and consumer.

SH: From your perspective, what makes a successful moderator?

ES: Moderators have different styles and traits that make them great, but for me, the two most important characteristics are a willingness and openness to connect, and an unquenchable thirst to know. “Respondents” are more than the sum of their responses–they are people, having good days and bad, but still showing up to give their time and thoughts. It’s very important to me to hold some space, to recognize and appreciate each participant before we even get in front of the glass. And as for curiosity, well, you stop living when you stop learning. Striving for deeper understanding, and asking questions – to me, that’s what it’s all about!

SH: How critical is storytelling?

ES: Humans are “storytelling animals.” Narrative shapes how we perceive and make sense of our world: from our macro worldview, to the personal brand stories we share, to the little stories we tell ourselves. As a moderator, it’s important to dig into participants’ stories – to unpack them and sometimes question them because insights don’t always neatly come through in answers to questions. If you think of all the ways communication extends beyond language (i.e., emphasis, volume, body language, pause), you realize the “story” is usually much broader than just what’s said. And storytelling is every bit as critical on the backend. For research to have meaning within an organization, it must find an audience – and that audience must care. Has anyone ever cared about a book or a movie, when the story just wasn’t that good? I think that’s an important responsibility that we researchers have – to bring our findings to life, to transform our participants’ needs and wants, pain points and delights, from data points to narratives. We must deliver insights that captivate our clients’ audience, with actionable recommendations to drive impact for their business.

SH: What resources help you stay connected to the latest industry thinking?

Information and inspiration can come from a lot of different sources. For instance, a friend turned me onto design thinking. I just finished Change by Design, and Sprint is next up on the recommended reading list she shared. I’m always tracking what’s going on in my professional network, and try to stay abreast of Quirk’s periodicals as well as Greenbook’s announcements/blog. WIRe and QRCA also sponsor some great events.

Topics: our people, qualitative research, storytelling, agile research

Employee Appreciation: The Importance of Providing Emotional Benefits

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Feb 28, 2018

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An organization’s people are its most valuable assets.

And in today’s job competitive market, companies finding and retaining top talent need to go beyond “benefits” like ping-pong tables and yoga classes. These tangible perks look great, but on their own they won’t foster employee loyalty and motivate productivity.

A key to a corporate culture that inspires and motivates employees is ongoing appreciation—showing gratitude each and every day. Providing emotional benefits (e.g., feeling appreciated and valued) is one of the most important things a company can do for its employees—in addition to providing functional benefits (e.g., free lunches).

But identifying what employees truly value and what makes them feel appreciated can be challenging. It requires a thoughtful approach to understanding human behavior and acknowledging our intrinsic desire to be recognized, celebrated, and appreciated every day.

At CMB, we found that our employees feel more appreciated by intangible, personal gestures like:

  • Receiving an email of appreciation from a client
  • Finding a “thank you” post-it from a colleague stuck to the desk
  • Getting a handwritten thank you note in your company mailbox
  • Seeing an email of acknowledgement to a manager about an employee’s unique contribution

These small acts of kindness and appreciation can speak louder than a free lunch or Summer Fridays. They are thoughtful, meaningful, and make employees truly feel valued for the work they do.

Springing for a midafternoon ice cream party is a lot easier than encouraging busy colleagues to take the time to write personal notes. But, I challenge leadership teams to foster workplace environments that practice ongoing appreciation. As Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

In an upcoming webinar, join Erica Carranza, PhD., and learn how building meaningful connections promotes workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Register Now

Heather Magaw is VP, Client Services at CMB. She challenges each reader to write 5 emails or notes of appreciation on Friday, March 2, Employee Appreciation Day.

 

Topics: our people, emotional measurement, emotion

Qualitative Research: Thinking Outside the Box(ing) Ring

Posted by Kelsey Segaloff

Wed, Aug 02, 2017

My friends and family greeted the news that I was joining a boxing gym with more than a little disbelief. Granted I am an imposing 5 feet tall and have a reputation for tripping over my own feet, so maybe they had a point. But four months and two pairs of gloves later, I’m not only fitter and stronger, I’ve learned some essential truths about boxing that I can apply to my professional life as a qualitative researcher. 

 kelsey boxing.jpg

Don’t forget the “Why”

Boxing is a commitment—physically, financially, and mentally—and it’s tempting to hit the snooze button when I don’t want to get out of bed for an early morning class. Oftentimes, I must remind myself why I keep up with it. To help motivate members, there’s a large chalkboard titled, “Why I Fight” filled with trainers’ and members’ “whys” in the front of the gym.  It’s the first thing you see when you walk in and serves as motivation to both me and fellow boxers.

Focusing on the decisions or the “why” is critical for researchers. Before kicking off a project, we work hard to fully understand our clients’ business needs and the decisions they need to make—this focus keeps us on track for everything from designing a study and choosing a methodology, all the way to the final deliverables and implementation. It’s also important to consider our participants’ “why”—that’s the reason we often use tools like projective techniques in qualitative research to dive deep into participants’ thoughts and uncover their beliefs, motivations, feelings, etc.—the old one-two punch, as some might say.

#FightFam

One of my favorite things about my gym is the sense of community it provides. My #fightfam challenges me to put my all into every class, whether it be Gennifer reassuring me I’m “crushing it,” or Roscoe in the bags room reminding the class we are winners (“And what do winners do? THEY WIN!”). While I feel a personal sense of accomplishment after every class I finish, I also feel a shared sense of pride with my fellow classmates and trainers—and that’s important.

A knockout team is also the foundation for greatness in qualitative research. At CMB, our all-star roster, VP of Qualitative Strategy + Innovation, Kathy Ofsthun, Qualitative Research Director, Anne Hooper, Qualitative Project Manager, Erin Stilphen, and I work together and encourage one another to perform at our highest capacity. We bring inventive and innovative qualitative methodologies like co-creation, and over 40 years of combined qualitative experience to the ring. We’re also adept to thinking on our toes—ask me about the time I recruited for a study in a Canadian train station! And when we need to tap other teammates, we’ve got specialized qualitative research consultants in our corner.

Master Technique, Prepare to Improvise

Boxing is known as the sweet science (the nickname is an appreciation of the technical skills required—strength, endurance, conditioning, core, and flexibility), but it’s just as much an art, requiring improvisation and creativity.

The same goes for qualitative research. We’re masters of improv, but good technique is integral. Recently, I was thrown through a loop while moderating an in-home ethnography for our self-funded research on Millennial and Gen Z use of virtual assistants (think Siri, Cortana, etc.).  Shortly into one of the interviews, it turned out the participant belonged in a different segment than what my guide had indicated. Instead of stopping the interview, I used my improvisation skills and reframed the questions without interrupting the flow of the conversation. Going a little off script helped us gather the insights we needed.

I love that I’ve discovered a sport and gym I am passionate about, and I’m even more thrilled I can draw meaningful parallels between boxing and my profession. Of course, there are times when my muscles ache, my wrists hurt, and I’m tired, but then I remind myself why I keep going. I box because it makes me stronger, faster, and confident—and that these attributes help me be a better qualitative researcher is a bonus!

kelsey boxing 2.jpg

Kelsey Segaloff is CMB’s Qualitative Associate Researcher, and can be found working on her jab-cross at EverybodyFights Boston.

 

Topics: our people, qualitative research, Consumer Pulse, co-creation

CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Once again CMB is participating in Light the Night, a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, culminating in a walk on Boston Common on October 20th.  Our participation began back in 2008, when our coworker, Catherine, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  After two rounds of chemo, a stem cell transplant, and proton radiation therapy, I’m happy to report that she recently celebrated six years in remission!  

The money raised is used to fund research for new therapies and treatments (including those that saved Catherine) and ensure patient access to treatments.  Last year alone, LLS invested $67.2 million in blood cancer research.

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Over the past 8 years, we’ve raised over $80K—not bad for a 65 person company!  LTN is truly a company-wide endeavor, we host bake sales, BBQs, silent auctions, and a very competitive cornhole tournament.  This year we've raised over $6K, and we're still going strong. We'd like to give a big thank you to all of our clients, partners, and friends who've donated!

If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer, please donate here or meet us on Thursday October 20th at 5PM on the Boston Common.

That's not the only way to join the CMB team, whether you are an innovation guru, a tech whiz, or a strategic selling machine, we’re looking for collaborative, engaged professionals:

Check out our open positions!

 

 

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, CMB Careers, Light the Night,

CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research

Posted by Catherine Shannon

Tue, Oct 06, 2015

CMB, Chadwick Martin Bailey, Light the NightThis Thursday, CMBers will participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual Light the Night Walk. My colleagues first joined the walk when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 as a way to support me in my fight against cancer. The family friendly event starts at dusk on the Boston Common, and the walk is only 2 short loops around the perimeter. During the walk, everyone carries one of three kinds of lanterns: a red lantern shows support, a white lantern represents a survivor, and a gold lantern represents the memory of a lost loved one. It is a truly special event and an inspiring sight.

We at CMB, like most others, have colleagues and loved ones who have been touched by cancer. Every year, we walk to raise money and awareness so that research can advance. Including this year’s walk, we will have raised $80,000 over the past 8 years.  As a cancer survivor, it means so much to me that something as negative as a cancer diagnosis could result in such a positive movement by my colleagues.

LLS funds research with the goal of curing blood cancers, and many of the advances made in blood cancer research can be used to treat other types of cancer. It provides support to patients and their families, and I (as well as countless others) have personally benefited from this research. Due in no small part to the advances made from this very research, I celebrated five years in remission this May and am now considered cured. I was the recipient of a lifesaving stem cell transplant and proton radiation therapy…and these are just two examples of the advanced therapies now available because of LLS and other research organizations. Thanks to them, I will be holding my white lantern high this Thursday. I am one of the lucky ones.

From the LLS website: LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research since our inception. Over that time, survival rates for many blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled. Moreover, we have learned how to cure certain blood cancers. And many therapies first approved for blood cancers are now helping patients with other types of cancers and serious diseases.

But more than one third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. So more funding is needed to advance more research and to ensure access to treatments to help save more lives.

We’re a small company trying to make a big difference. If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer, please donate here or join us on Thursday at 5PM on the Boston Common.

Help Us Kick Cancer's Butt!

Catherine Shannon is the Director of Finance at CMB. She’s a two time cancer survivor, and she looks forward to Light the Night Thursday. 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, Boston