Customer research agency collaboration with Queen’s University KTP

Angeline Martin




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Customer research agency, CARD Group Research & Insight, recently completed a knowledge transfer partnership with Queen’s University Belfast.

The knowledge transfer partnership was set up to develop a new customer research system incorporating advanced methodologies. 

Chief Executive Albert Hamilton had been developing an innovative customer research idea and wanted to build a system to access deeper customer insights.

“I needed to be able to give clients these new customer insights.  I knew that traditional market research systems used by market research companies would not be capable of achieving what I wanted to accomplish,” Albert explained.

Albert knew he needed to recruit someone highly skilled to lead this project.

Queens University Knowledge Transfer Partnership

A timely email in 2017 from the Queen’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership office, led Albert to believe this could be the route to finding someone with the right skill set. Albert met with the Head of KTP, Lorraine Marks to explore how a KTP might work for his business.

“Lorraine put me in touch with Dr Lisa McFetridge from the School of Maths and Physics whose work involved statistics. That meeting was just fantastic! Lisa just seemed to already know how she could help me develop what I wanted.  She completely got it. So much of a KTP project success is down to the academic partner you are put in touch with – and that is where the skill of the KTP Office comes in by making the right introduction for you.”

“Our Associate, Aedan Beatty, was exactly the person we needed for this project. Our customer research project focused on customers’ online buying trends using tools and models such as Discrete Choice Modelling and Latent Class Modelling. Aedan’s high level of expertise was ideal and we successfully developed a brand new and innovative customer research product”, said Albert.

“Our new system is scientifically backed and our clients have experienced how it delivers highly accurate consumer insights. The questions asked now are not only rational questions, as is usual in market research, but our new model allows us to access deeper perceptions than rational responses and behaviours to give additional sub-conscious responses that can be understood and prioritised.”

Predicting Consumer Preferences

We incorporated advanced statistical modelling techniques that are effective at predicting both stated and unstated consumer preferences. This is important for both new product development and for developing the strategy for existing products and services as it provides information regarding customer needs. Our data driven system makes it possible to understand how consumers genuinely feel and shows you how to improve your marketing strategy.

A change to product or service attributes to meet the needs of the target market allows a company to improve their marketing strategy to appeal to its target audience more accurately. These attributes can be aligned with the factors analysed and understood to be important to customers and will therefore influence their purchasing decisions. For example, price, quality, and brand strategy will affect whether a person will make a purchase, while formulation and reassurance will influence repurchase. This will provide a better understanding of the customer experience, predict consumer preferences and importantly, sales.

Customer research agency project completion

As an SME Albert says that employing an Associate through KTP for three years is a worthwhile investment.  This collaboration is part-funded, with assistance available throughout the recruitment process from the academic partner and the KTP Office.

The customer research agency project ended in March 2022. CARD Group Research & Insight remains in regular contact with Dr Lisa McFetridge: the company is hosting two Masters’ student placements and is about to host a Doctoral student, all of whom are under Lisa’s supervision.

Commenting on the KTP experience and what advice he might offer to other businesses considering the programme, Albert says: “Our new market research system exists as the result of our partnership with Queen’s. Lisa supported the Associate in his work, sharing her expertise, and Aedan embedded the specialist modelling knowledge in our systems.   Our new product allows us to make ourselves distinct from other market research companies in our industry. We can now bring something new and individual to clients. It is definitely helping us to grow our customer base.”

“The test of the value of something is whether you would do it again. And absolutely I would work on another KTP project, without a shadow of a doubt.”

“Would I recommend KTP to other businesses?   Yes.  I’m very pleased with our new customer research product.”

Chief Executive Albert Hamilton established CARD Group Research & Insight, a Belfast-based market research agency, that next year is celebrating 20 years in business. Specialised in both qualitative research and quantitative research, CARD Group Research & Insight works with companies across the UK, Ireland and beyond.

About the author: Angeline Martin

As Marketing Manager, Angeline has more than 20 years of marketing management experience. She holds a BA (hons) Business Studies degree, specialising in marketing, from the University of Ulster. A Chartered Marketer, Angeline is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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