The 1 June edition of the Tampa Bay Business Journal features Study Hall as the lead firm in an article focused on the current state of market research. Study Hall is one of only two Tampa Bay firms highlighted in the article, and is the primary firm mentioned in the piece. The article, from Tampa Bay Business Journal reporter Margaret Cashill, addresses the current need for market research and how the business and economic climates have–in many ways–created a more pressing demand for solid research-grounded data and insights. Both Study Hall principals are featured in the piece.
To read an extract of the article, go to: http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/print-edition/2012/06/01/technology-economy-drive-quest-for.html.
The full text of the article follows:
Technology, economy drive quest for research in greater volumes
Tampa’s Study Hall grows by helping clients prioritize
Rodney Kayton, managing partner, and Rob IIes, partner/managing director of Study Hall.
Photo credit: Kathleen Cabble
TAMPA— Making decisions based on a gut feeling is not an option for companies in a down economy. Research and data drive decisions, and companies facilitating the data are growing as a result.
More recently, new technologies have enabled time- and cost-efficient data collection. The marriage of technology and data holds the potential to boost business sales and profits for companies that rely on the research and for businesses that specialize in collecting the information.
“Technology has greatly sorted a lot of work time for our business and has made it easier for us to engage in data collection and data tabulation,” said Rob Iles, partner and managing director of Study Hall, a Tampa consultancy specializing in qualitative and quantitative brand and communications research.
Study Hall, founded in 2010 by Iles and Rodney Kayton, devises research programs and develops business strategies informed by the findings. It serves restaurants, leisure and travel, health care and other categories.
After its most recent series of taste test focus groups in May, Study Hall had completed a total of more than 130 qualitative research groups for Checkers Drive In Restaurants, Inc. The drive-thru fast food chain has worked with Study Hall on taste testing, strategic development, communications evaluation and facilities development, as well as quantitative research.
Company decisions have become more data-driven as a greater number of data sources become available, said Terri Snyder, Checkers’ chief marketing officer.
“We have instituted those decisions and metrics in the way we develop products,” Snyder said. “Data is cheaper, faster and more efficient than it’s ever been.”
A data collection effort with Study Hall client Merlin Entertainments Group, operator of LegoLand Florida, shows how technology can put surveys in the hands of consumers in certain places.
Study Hall staff use iPads in lieu of physical surveys to collect data onsite at LegoLand. At the end of the day, they can hit a button to compile the responses, rather going through a stack of completed surveys.
Since the economic downturn, companies have become more cautious with their spending, and more likely to rely on research as the basis for decision making, said Sarah Lindemuth, senior research manager with HCP.
The Tampa research, strategy and marketing firm works with clients in hospitality and tourism, security and defense, insurance and other industries.
HCP may conduct the research itself, whether it’s on-the-street, telephonic or electronic research, or focus groups. Depending on the size of the project, HCP may also work with partners.
Research removes the element of guesswork in decision-making and gives a company a sense of assurance that they are on the right path, Lindemuth said.
Technology has sped it along, easing online research and enabling electronic surveying.
Yet for HCP and many of its clients, this approach has been around a long time.
“This is not anything new for us—pushing research as the basis for your decision-making,” she said. “It’s interesting to see that the economy and budget scrutiny has made other people come to that realization.”
Margaret Cashill’s beats include technology, hospitality, retail and restaurants.
A brand positioning statement at work
Front Burner Brands, restaurant management company for The Melting Pot, Burger 21 and GrillSmith, worked with Study Hall to create its brand positioning statement. The statement is the result of quantitative and qualitative research, including surveys and focus groups that began more than a year ago. Now, the statement serves as a framework for company decisions, said spokeswoman Sandy D’Elosua. It’s an internal document that D’Elosua wouldn’t share, but she said: “It exemplifies what we are, who we are. We look at it as a foundation.”