Research In A Recession – How To Make Your Budget Go Further

This year at the 2009 Insight Show, we are delighted to be presenting 2 papers on the official conference programme:

Tuesday 30th June (12.15pm-1.00pm)
Bringing Segmentation To Life – A People Focused Approach

• Placing the customer at the heart of your approach
• Ensuring your segmentation has clear strategic applications
• Embracing segmentation to ensure a customer focused

Sarah Askew, Associate Director (McCallum Layton)
Matt Counsell, Partner and Head of Quantitative Research (McCallum Layton)
Mark Knight, Customer Insight Manager (Co-operative Pharmacy)

Wednesday 1st July (10.00am-10.45am)
Research In A Recession – How To Make Your Budget Go Further • Check list to optimise your research design
• Better ways to work with your agency in order to drive efficiency
• Cost saving methodologies and techniques

The session will provide some tips and hints for getting the most out of your insight budget in the current turbulent economic climate, and will suggest some cost-saving methodologies and techniques that you might not have thought of.

Julia Horlov, Partner and Head of Qualitative Research
Matt Counsell, Partner and Head of Qualitative Research

If you would like to find out more, please drop me an email on or feel free to visit out stand on D141.


Official Sponsor of Insight Show 2009

Following on from the success of our sponsorship last year, we are pleased to announce that we are, once again, going to be the official sponsor of this year’s Insight Show (Part of Marketing Week Live). The Insight Show is Europe”s largest research exhibition and is a must attend exhibition and conference for anyone who is a buyer, user and commissioner of market research. The Insight Show is the only event supported by all major trade associations – MRS, AURA, AIMRI and ICG. The event will be hosted at Grand Hall Olympia, London between 30th June and 1st July 2009.

Marketing Week Live brings together four dedicated marketing shows and the event is the first in the UK to integrate multiple marketing disciplines providing the nation’s marketing community with a single destination event for online marketing, data marketing, research and in-store marketing activity.

If you have a brief that you would like us to have a closer look at, please visit us on stand D141.

To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Centre stage at “Esomar – Fragrance 09”

Vivien Wilton-Middlemass, Head of Sensory Research takes to the stage at Esomar’s annual Fragrance conference which is being held in Cannes, France between 22nd and 24th June.

Vivien’s session will show how through applying a multi staged approach of combined sensory and consumer research techniques we can identify and develop the best sensory stimuli suited to developing a successful branding strategy.
To find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications on:

Tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

Developing The Business Travel Market For Think Apartments (Case Study)

Business Issue
Sunlight Apartments approached McCallum Layton in early 2008 with an ambitious aim – to be the UK’s premier provider of serviced apartments by 2010. Their serviced apartments are designed to offer business and leisure travellers a stylish, comfortable, fully furnished alternative to staying in hotels, for stays from 1 day to 1 year, and at a price which can compete with hotel room rates.

Research was needed to feed into all areas of their strategy – marketing activities, ‘product’ provision, operations and the
re-branding of the company. Strategically, refreshing the brand and growing their revenue from the business travel market were priorities but, to do this effectively, the team at Sunlight Apartments (now Think Apartments) first needed to better understand the market – what customers want, how they buy, how to target them and, critically, how they could be motivated to consider serviced apartments as a viable alternative to hotels.

Our Approach
It was critical for the Marketing Team that the research should provide some hard figures upon which they could forecast sales and target their activities, so we carried out initial desk research, sourcing data which allowed them to build up a profile of business travellers. The challenge was then to understand the needs of three key client groups – Travel Management Companies (who source and book accommodation on behalf of corporate clients), aggregators (third-party distributors) and corporate travel buyers.

The qualitative research that followed was challenging from the outset, not only in terms of tracking down business buyers of corporate travel (who hold myriad different roles within different companies) but in persuading corporate contacts to give up precious time to share information and opinions.

Based on our research findings, Sunlight Apartments was
re-branded to Think Apartments and was successfully launched.

Insights from the research have been influential in guiding the design of new marketing materials, as well as helping to focus the design of the apartments themselves. Location, for example, was found to be the key criteria for corporate travel buyers when choosing accommodation. In response to this, Think Apartments’ advertising showcases breathtaking aerial shots of London, highlighting the close proximity of the apartments to some of London’s most visited areas, and has already helped their business grow by 14% in 2008 with pre-bookings for 2009 already at 70% of 2008 annual levels (as of February 2009).

Stewart Moore, Group Marketing Director at Think Apartments says: “Following the research, we were able to more accurately identify key targets and adjust the message within the exhibition space which has already helped drive very strong pre-bookings for 2009 and ahead of expectations especially given the current economic climate.”

To find out more about Think Apartments, visit:

McCallum Layton To Speak At Major Food & Drink Seminar In March

We are pleased to announce that on Wednesday 25th March, Vivien Wilton-Middlemass (Head of Sensory Research) will present a paper at the Food and Drink Innovation Network’s seminar (Better, Quicker And Cheaper NPD).

Session details:


• How to maintain market/brand share in uncertain times using
sensory data and analysis.
• How sensory can assist in cost reduction and ingredient
• Using taste to drive innovation.
• Get better sales by targeting products for specific market
• Top tips to ensure consumer acceptance and maintain brand

If you would like to find out more about our involvement, please contact John McCambley, Head of Brand Marketing & Communications at or tel: +44 (0)113 237 5590

To find out more about FDIN, visit

60 Second Soapbox

Kate Thompson, Head of B2B Research at McCallum Layton

The product I’m excited about at the moment is …

We’ve finally got round to buying a PVR so we can now record multiple TV programmes at once, pause live TV while I let the dogs out etc etc. And, as the woman on the ad says, ‘eat whenever I want to’. Funny – we always used to eat whenever we wanted to, before. I was obviously doing something wrong.

A client I’d like to get my hands on is …

Anyone involved in the development of eco-town policy. An admirable initiative in theory but one that seems to be being hijacked on a local level for other purposes. It seems odd, as one of many possible examples, that many of the proposed sites for these supposed standard bearers for sustainable living are so far away from major centres of employment that there can’t help but be a significant increase in car use, even if they can persuade the bus companies to add some new routes.

An idea I wished I’d had is …

Dyson’s ball (wheel)barrow. What a brilliant invention, but why can’t you get them any more? Mine finally collapsed recently after years of faithful service, under the strain of too much rockery stone. Went straight online to source a replacement, but can’t find one for love nor money. I might have to re-invent it.

A campaign that grabbed me recently is …

EDF Energy’s TV advertising to promote their commitment to tackling climate change, ‘made from recycled clips’. The laundry detergent manufacturers realised years ago that they would be better off applying a bit of wit to promoting their important but fundamentally relatively uninteresting product – it’s good to see the energy companies going the same way.

A campaign that needed more research is …

John McCain’s run for the White House, perhaps? Regardless of which way I would have voted, I think he had a great deal going for him personally but could maybe have done with a bit more due diligence analysis prior to committing to the merger with the Hockey Mom.

One thing this industry could use more of is …

As far as B2B research is concerned, my own discipline – some new blood coming into the quant fieldforce. The most effective executive interviewers are those with a fair stretch of work and life experience who can add an understanding of how businesses function and how individuals operate within an organisation, to the usual interviewer requirements for great communication skills, consistency, a thick skin etc.

One thing this industry could use less of is …

The other side of the coin – interviewers on B2B studies who do not yet have the skills to communicate effectively with business people, which impacts on response rates across the industry as a whole. We need to be attracting more of the right calibre of individual for this type of work, which in turn will help drive up how business respondents perceive the importance and value of taking part in research.

In five years time we’ll all be talking about …

What a difference the Large Hadron Collider has made to our daily lives. I just love our capacity as a race to come up with fabulous but seemingly obscure projects that the general public either smiles at indulgently or looks askance at (how many schools and hospitals could that budget build? – like the money would go straight to schools and hospitals if it weren’t being spent on trying to find the Higgs boson) and that go on to spawn the most amazing technological developments. Look at the human genome project. And indeed the Internet. Might be a few more than 5 years, come to think of it.

And the one thing never to forget is …

Keep your powder dry, and never turn your back on the enemy – as my Dad used to say. Well, I’ve never forgotten it …

The Changing Consumer…

Much evidence suggests that the next 12-18months ahead will see record levels of unemployment, more interest rate cuts and an economy that is heading further in the wrong direction, but now is the time, more than ever before to truly get under the skin of your consumer in such a volatile market.

Research is simply not (as some see) a cost to the business, but a critical strategic activity that is needed to help any brand align for the tough times that lie ahead. Those companies who invest in truly understanding the changing buying habits of their customer/consumers over the short-medium term will gain the strategic advantage in the long term and steal a march on the competition when the dust settles.

Make Sure Your New Product Is Not A Lemon, And If It Is, Is It Bitter Or Sour?

Howard Frost and Vivien Wilton-Middlemass explain the role of sensory testing in new product development across a range of products.

New product development usually treads a familiar and well worn path. Once the need for a new product has been identified there follow the concept development stage, concept testing, fine tuning, prototype production and so on. At the same time decisions are being made regarding various marketing issues, for example, the creation of an advertising platform, promotional launch details and maybe a review of the distribution channels for the new product. However, this process is detailed in numerous marketing tracts so it is not our intention here to bore the reader with that which can be readily found elsewhere. We want to sharpen your senses or rather show you how sharper senses can ensure you have got the best product and that you are ready for launch.
Let’s assume that you’ve identified the need for a new product, ascertained there is demand, done the concept development and testing, made the prototype and have all your marketing ducks lined up. But, and this is a big but, how do you know you have got the best product, the product that, out of all the ideas you have looked at and out of all the prototypes you’ve produced, has the best chance of success?
Well, if you accept the assumption that there are reasons behind everything, then there have to be reasons why people will select your new product over the competition. To give your new product the best chance of success you need to accurately identify those reasons. Let’s take an example, some people buy dark chocolate and some milk. Those who prefer dark chocolate often describe it as being more bitter than milk chocolate and cite this as one of the main reasons as to why they choose the former over the latter; but what does bitter mean?
Assume that you are about to launch your new dark chocolate bar, but, is it too bitter, or not bitter enough? Taste tests with the public are all very well but one person’s ‘very bitter’ is another person’s ‘a little bitter’. How does your new product score on the other criteria that feed into people’s decision trees when buying chocolate? Oh, you think, if only I had a definitive metric of bitterness and a measure of where my competitors’ products and my new product scored on the ‘bitterness’ scale, and how well my target market’s taste aligned with each of these, then I would be in a position to launch the optimum product. Guess what – you can! And not just for chocolate but also for mobile ‘phones, cosmetics, cleaning products, cars and a whole heap of other products. In short you can enlist the help of sensory testing techniques in any situation where your senses play a part in product selection – you tell me where they don’t.
Sensory testing and new product development go hand in hand; it can be used at various touch points throughout your development process to ensure that your new product matches what the market wants. For those unfamiliar with the basic technique it relies on the recruitment and training of a panel of experts who, through the use of consistent test stimuli, develop an appropriate and common language for a specific product or group of products. Panels can be trained for taste, for example for different kinds of food and drink ranging from yellow fats to beer, or touch, an example here being cosmetics where the difference between a product being smooth or greasy can make all the difference, through to sight – what is the optimum hue for a tomato? Think of all the ways that your product interacts with your customers’ senses and at each of these points there is a potential role for sensory testing.
Sensory testing dovetails perfectly with research methodologies that enable the understanding of the wider audience that report their motivational drivers to buy a particular product and together these techniques will provide any person, working in NPD, with a solid base on which to make decisions. Take, for example, a car manufacturer that learns that a customer is likely to pay more for a car (or their kitchen cabinets) whose doors shut with a satisfying, opulent sounding ‘thunk.’ Even though this is only one of a myriad of factors in the choosing of a car, the manufacturer would be somewhat remiss if they dismissed this aspect when designing their new models.
So where do the lemons come into it? Like me you might be surprised to know that there are forty seven varieties of lemon. Interestingly, lemon growers classify them as acid or sweet but how many people have you ever heard asking for a sweet lemon?

Attitudes Towards The Recession

In October/November 2008, we carried out an in-depth piece of research which looked at how the current economic downturn is affecting purchasing behaviours and future buying intentions between consumers from differing generations (with a sample split between 18-29 year olds and 30+ year olds).

25% of 18-29 year olds believe their disposable income will increase in 2009…
44% of the combined sample will continue with their changes to spending habits (even after the current climate has improved)…
67% of 30+ year olds believe there will be an increase in crime as a result of the current climate…

To find out more about our results, findings and recommendations, please drop me an email at

Click on the link “Attitudes Towards The Recession” to watch our short video clip.


Leeds based research & marketing insight consultancy McCallum Layton has recently expanded its range of services to include sensory testing. Headed by Vivien Wilton-Middlemass, who has over 20 years experience in sensory testing, the agency has developed its own bespoke sensory testing unit and panel in Leeds which offers cost-effective testing across the food and drink, FMCG and cosmetic industries.


Vivien was awarded Business Woman of the Year and made a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts for her innovation and contribution to the food and drink industry in 1987 and 1989 respectively.


This year has already seen the agency strengthen its insight and marketing teams and also expand its CATI unit as a result of new, long-term business wins throughout 2007-08.


Founding Partner Duncan McCallum said, “We have already had a lot of interest in our new Sensory Testing Unit which was developed as part of an ongoing plan to provide clients with an even greater range of services.”