Our world-class Fieldwork facilities are run by local Presidents who play a major role in fostering meaningful relationships and are proactive in the day-to-day operations. We caught up with Kami Celano, President of Fieldwork Los Angeles -Orange County, about Fieldwork's ability to source high-quality research participants no matter the location.
Q: You've been with Fieldwork for many years. What has been the most significant change you've seen in the research market?
A: The insights industry, just like any other industry, sees trends come and go. All brands have a desire to understand the consumer and gain the competitive edge by observing and listening to real humans who use their products. What I have seen change most over the years is the successful build-out of in-house research facilities at many companies.
Q: With Fieldwork known for providing modern and well-appointed focus group facilities, how does this affect your business?
A: Providing focus group facilities is really just one aspect of our business at Fieldwork. We're here to facilitate the overall research projects of our clients. By listening to companies who frequent our focus group rooms we know that not all of them found an off-site location to be ideal for their testing protocols. By listening to our clients, we've been able to suggest unique locations which are more conducive to gaining high-quality insights.
Throughout the years more and more brands have extensive headquarters to house their in-house research. Once upon a time it was only medical research that built in-house labs for testing. We've successfully provided very specific and even low incidence research respondents to their labs, but now many brands build research facilities on their own corporate campus.
Now, many industries have built up this same type of model in building research facilities of their own for their qualitative research needs.
Q: Beyond medical labs, what other industries need to source participants for on-location testing?
A: The restaurant industry is one in particular that likes to host research participants directly in their own test kitchens. The logistics of food preparation, along with health and safety regulations provide complexity to any taste testing and food-related focus groups. National restaurant chains, whether QSR, fast food or casual dining experiences love to get feedback straight from the mouths they feed.
At first, consumer product testing engaging in this more on-location approach was typically related to toys or household products. But with more technology hitting the market every day, focus groups are happening to give brands iterative insights about everything from next-generation product upgrades, research and development ideas, user experience feedback to packaging and beyond.
Q: What kind of recruiting are you asked to do when companies take research in-house?
A: For food testing, quotas are often broken down on the frequency of diners. One brand may require groups of qualified participants who eat out at least 4x per week and are very familiar with their suite of food products. Another brand may be looking for research recruits who self-report dining frequently at their direct competitor.
Product testing participants typically need to belong to a specific demographic. For example, if we're testing kids' toys we might need a cohort of specific aged children. But when testing is being done specific to the buyer's perceptions that demographic might need to be a parent or grandparent. Educational toys might also require a cohort of educators for feedback about the specific educational qualities of the product.
Technology testing or UX/CS research is also another kind of focus group that might be better suited for outside of the typical focus group room. For example, if users are being observed engaging with a home-based technology product, researchers know the ideal environment would be to mimic a user's home. If the device is to be used in an office, a mock office may provide more of a real-time experience for the research participant which could yield higher quality insights.
Q: What is the real benefit to companies bringing their focus group and consumer testing facilitation in-house?
A: Research and Development departments are moving quicker with iterative approaches. While people talk about agile business, that is largely fueled by agile research. While we certainly love to host focus groups for any brand, when they can scale their own facility to quickly accommodate participants around the next model of their product or changes to their services, we can provide the logistics to make this happen at a quicker rate. Faster time to quality insights, coupled with actionable data can be a competitive advantage that leads to increased revenue.
Q: What's the future for Fieldwork in light of this kind of in-house corporate research?
A: The future for Fieldwork is bright. Companies are never going to distance themselves from consumer opinion. It is their lifeblood. There will always be companies who need our facilities to host their focus groups, UX/CX testing, mock juries or CPG testing. We're happy to adapt our rooms to meet their needs. But our expert research participant recruiters will always be in demand for their local and global approach to sourcing the right research participant at the right time. We're also masters at logistics and behind the scenes details. We'll make sure folks arrive on time, are qualified for the study, and make sure they get paid correctly all while wrapping everything up on one invoice with one point of contact for our client.
Of course we'd love to host you at our state-of-the-art facility here in Orange County, but if your next qualitative market research project needs to take place at YOUR PLACE, we'd still love to help source qualified research participants and free your team up to do what they do best. You focus on the research. We'll do the rest.
This blog is part of the Fieldwork President interview series.
Click here to read what other Fieldwork Presidents had to say!
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