From October 20th through 22nd of 2014, I attended The Market Research Event in (not so sunny) Boca Raton, FL. The conference was a gathering of over 1,300 attendees working in market research, 150+ speakers, and over 100 exhibitors. The conference was structured to lead off with two keynote speakers in the morning followed by six separate tracks of mini-sessions throughout the day, followed by a keynote speaker to conclude each day. The six tracks of interest focused on: (1) brand insight and engagement, (2) strategic leadership, (3) insight driven innovation, (4) new technologies and methodologies, (5) insight strategy, and (6) big data and predictive analytics.

Here is my Prezi recap that I presented to the RMS staff this morning for our November session:

Market Research Trends 2015

Click here to view the Prezi

The Research Bunker is a market research blog from Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). If you are interested in learning more about RMS or have any questions about The Market Research Event 2014 contact George Kuhn at georgek@rmsresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Conducting in-depth interviews (IDIs) is the ideal research method for getting highly detailed responses from key stakeholders. Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) knows that completing IDIs allows the interviewer to probe on respondents’ answers in order to gain detailed information on a given topic. Through the use of interview techniques, the researcher can delve deeper into a topic by exploring specific issues, aspects, motivations, influences, habits, and areas of interest.

IDI Blog Photo

Here are five tips to completing IDIs successfully!

  1. Create an easy to use interview guide

An IDI guide assists researchers by helping them stay on track while completing interviews. It also allows researchers to streamline interview questions, which is especially helpful if multiple researchers are completing interviews.

  1. Write down takeaways immediately after the interview

A major advantage of completing IDIs is the ability to understand reasons behind topics of interest. The best way for a researcher to retain this information after completing an interview is to write down key information that was gathered from respondent. We find it is best for the researcher to either take brief notes during the interview, or write down your thoughts immediately following the interview.

  1. Include scaled questions for quantitative insight

Scaled questions help researchers identify similarities and differences between respondents. An example of a scaled question could be, “Please rate your level satisfaction between 1 and 5, with “1” being strongly dissatisfied and “5” being strongly satisfied.” These questions are common in surveys, but they are also useful when completing IDIs.  Asking scaled questions assigns a face value to an aspect. From here, researchers can take it a step further by asking the respondent reasons behind their number choice.

  1. Don’t be afraid to go a little off script

Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured are three types of IDI guides. Structured is where the interviewer must ask the respondent specific questions in a specific order. Unstructured is the opposite of this, and allows researchers to ask questions as they see fit. The most common type of IDI guides are semi-structured, which allows the researcher to veer slightly from the IDI guide during interviews as they see necessary. When completing IDIs researchers will inevitably neglect to ask about important information. Semi-structured IDI guides allow researchers to ask questions about key information that may have been missed. From the participant’s response, researchers may want to update questions in the IDI guide in order include it in future interviews.

  1. Take the time to say, “Thanks!”

Remember to thank your respondent for taking the time to talk to you before and after the interview. It’s simple, easy, and reminds the respondent that the information they provided will directly influence a business or project.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


Massive open online courses (MOOCs) skyrocketed in popularity upon their emergence in the higher education market in recent years. A MOOC is an open access online class that is available to an unlimited population. They are often taught by professors who are well-known in their field of study, and the content presented is intended to be of the same quality as a traditional fee-based course.

A New York Times article named 2012 “the year of the MOOC” as several companies associated with prestigious universities began providing free, non-credit online courses. CourseraUdacity, and edX emerged as pioneers in  the appearance of MOOCs, backed by partnerships with MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University, among many others. Popularity for MOOC platforms grew quickly – Coursera was able to reach 1.7 million people in the first year and half after it was founded. The initial draw to MOOCs  created a stir in the higher education industry, and colleges and universities grew increasingly concerned with how they could compete in this new educational space while their tuition continued to skyrocket. To add further anxiety to the higher education industry, many MOOCs also offered certificates of completion in the topic being taught. These certificates were offered on behalf of the instructor, not a college or university, but they drew a substantial preliminary following.


Now that a couple years have passed and the dust has settled, the industry is finding that MOOCs are not having as large of an impact on traditional learning institutions as originally thought. The MOOC system has pitfalls. Course dropout rates are high, plagiarism is common, and the time commitment is extensive. Since MOOCs often have enrollments in the thousands, instructor and student interaction is almost non-existent. The lack of support leaves many students unable to complete the course. With the ability to earn a certificate in the specialty topic, plagiarism became a common occurrence among students struggling with the course content and lack of instructor support.  To further complicate the situation, the level of quality in grading for a MOOCs course has been inconsistent, particularly for courses which do not offer content that can be run through an automatic grading platform.

On the other end of the spectrum, recent research has found that MOOC students are often highly educated adults who already hold an advanced degree, minimizing the competition with colleges and universities who are recruiting prospective learners interested in enrolling in credit-bearing programs.  Free, non-credit courses could be an attractive option to the busy professional interested in enhancing an established skill set, but the high caliber of the courses often requires a larger time commitment than a traditional non-credit enrichment course offered by a local college or university.

Although MOOCs have faced significant challenges, it is clear that they are having an impact on the higher education industry, even if not to the extent as originally predicted. Many MOOC platforms are attempting to adapt to the changing needs of the educational consumer.  Learners are becoming increasingly reliant and accustomed to digital technology. This had led to an uptick in the availability of online courses in the higher education industry. Many colleges and universities are integrating enhanced MOOC content into established curriculums. In return, MOOC platforms are attempting to draw the attention of learners interested in certificate options that are recognized in the industry being studied. Coursera and edx now offer verified certificates, which attempt to provide a “more meaningful certificate of completion” by allowing the student to share detailed course performance records. The impact of these certificates is still unclear, but the higher education industry will undoubtedly keep a close watch on the evolution of MOOCs.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. RMS specializes in higher education market research assessments. For more information on conducting a market research project, contact Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). 

Background: A regional news publication partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a readership profile survey. The publication wanted to better understand readers’ usage, interests, and work to optimize marketing materials. The market research objective was to provide the insights needed to guide improvements to news platforms, provide demographic information of users for marketing collateral, and decipher the adjustments required of content and advertising to make it a more attractive purchase for businesses.

Readership Survey

Approach: The study consisted of an online survey administered to members of the community market area for the client. Both the print and online subscriber list was used as the sample pool for the online survey. In addition, a group of core reader contact information was collected and pulled into a database for the survey. A total of 407 surveys were completed, and fieldwork lasted approximately 5 weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • 93% – Percentage of respondents that read at least 1 of the last 4 copies of the publication (56% read or looked at all four)
  • 63% – Percentage of readers that have other people at work, home, or somewhere else that read or look at their copies
  • 74% – Percentage of website users that visit the site once a month or more (37% visit a few times a week or more)
  • 53% – Percentage of respondents that read emailed news – another 30% read the these emails a few times a week
  • 91% – Percentage of respondents that stated the advertising or stories were helpful to make either business or personal decisions
  • Demographic profiles of readers included: (1) level of positions within organizations, (2) titles, (3) industry, (4) size of business, (5) total revenue or sales of the organization, (6) age, (7) educational attainment, (8) household income levels, and (9) approximate net worth

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a readership survey firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in conducting a readership survey for your publication contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

Managing content on social media platforms can become time consuming. Social media is something we at RMS deal with on a daily basis for our internal purposes, recruiting purposes, ViewPoint Research Panel, and clients. Through our work, we have come up with strategies to tackle managing social media accounts that could be applied to your business.


Below are 5 tips for organizing social media efforts for small businesses.

  1. Have one, or only a few “cooks in the kitchen”

Too many people working on the same social media account leads to confusion. This often creates duplicate content and poorly timed posts. If used strategically, social media can enhance the branding and reputation of your business. If your organization is able to use social media effectively, you will notice an increase in awareness throughout your community, target audiences, and industry.

  1. Create your kitchen

Once you have made the decision to limit the number of people who can post on your social media platforms, you now need to create a place for employees to communicate quickly and easily with the account administrator(s). Creating an email account specifically for passing along suggested social media content is an easy way to create a dumping ground for content. This enables employees to communicate important events and content that the administrator(s) may not be aware of. In other words, all content goes to one centralized place for the cooks, like a kitchen.

  1. Create a recipe

One of the most important reasons for organizing social media accounts is to understand what is being posted and when. Redundancy is one of the easiest ways to lose followers and likes. This makes it important for the administrator(s) to post the right content on the right platform at the right time. Have a plan and stick to it. Some social media administrators turn to social media management software like Hootsuite and Buffer for assistance. These applications help administrators view multiple social media platforms at once, post on multiple accounts at once, and schedule future posts.

  1. Understand what utensils and appliances to use

In order to understand what to post on a particular platform and when, the administrator(s) first need to understand the differences and objectives of each social media platform. Each platform has specific audiences, and all of which need well thought out strategic posts. In order to understand what to post where, you will need to evaluate current and potential followers, and what types of content these audiences are looking for. Also, make sure you are using the correct social media outlet to reach this audience, and that you are creating posts appropriate for that outlet. So in summary, you could cook a steak in a microwave, but is that really the best platform to obtain the best result?

  1. Quality not quantity

Focusing on what you are posting instead of how often you are posting is key. Another way to lose followers and likes is to post dull content, or content that is non-applicable for the audience on a specific platform. For tips and examples on how to revamp social media posts click here. Ultimately, you need to aim to cook relatable content. Quality content in small bits is much better than mediocre content that is posted all the time.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more social media tips or would like to conduct a social media assessment  contact Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development,  at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

The following blog post is a case study summary of a recently completed project here at RMS. The market potential model study and algorithm referenced in this post was designed and completed by George Kuhn, Director of Research Services at RMS. You can contact him on LinkedIn by clicking here. The project took a total of 8 to 10 weeks to complete.

Background: A local consortium of clients partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a market study of residential property growth in the primary market area (PMA) of downtown Syracuse, NY. The main objective of the study was to determine how well penetrated the Syracuse market was and to determine what potential there is for residential growth.

Predicting Residential Potential

Downtown Syracuse

Approach: The market potential study was broken down into three core components: (1) demographic and trend analysis, (2) competitive assessment, and (3) a telephone and online survey. All three components were combined to build a market potential model which used data-driven assumptions to arrive at research conclusions for this report.

  • To complete the demographic analysis of the this market potential study, Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) utilized DemographicsNow.com which is an online software supported by data from the official United States Census. Statistics collected in the 2010 Census were then projected using sophisticated models and algorithms to arrive at 2014 estimates and five-year predictions for 2019. To determine a pool of residents that will most likely impact residential living in the Downtown Syracuse area, RMS needed to review two separate Census tracts. Market predictions from the data include basic demographics including population, age of residents, income, and other factors.
  • The mystery shopping component and competitive assessment of this market research study was the second of three crucial pieces to the foundation of the market potential model. A list of over 30 like-properties existing in the primary market area (PMA) was compiled by RMS. It is important to note this inventory only reviews what was deemed to be “like-units” to what developers would like explore adding to the residential market and the 30 properties (both rent and own) are not intended to be a fully representative of all of the offerings within the Downtown Syracuse market. A combination of phone calls, emails, and secondary research completed online was used to obtain critical data on current residential living options in the PMA. RMS professional staff posed as potential prospects and residents interested in living downtown to obtain three key pieces of information: (1) current price and rental ranges offered at the property, (2) current occupancy rates at the property, and (3) other influential amenities offered at the property that might influence the decision to choose it over a competitor.
  • The quantitative surveying component of this market research study was the third of three crucial pieces to the foundation of the market potential model. RMS employed a short survey of approximately 20 questions which lasted respondents a total of three to five minutes. The survey was constructed to better understand resident attitudes, needs, desires, preferences, and interest in residential living in the Downtown Syracuse market. A total of 613 completes were obtained for the quantitative survey. The survey was first sent to RMS’s proprietary Central New York ViewPoint panel which includes over 2,000 residents in the area that are willing to participate in important research studies. Due to the limited number of telephone records available for purchase, additional efforts were needed to reach the downtown market using an awareness campaign that included: (1) the creation of an official letter document endorsed by the clients supporting the need for feedback from residents, (2) social media sharing through personal networks, emails, and phone calls from the clients’ and RMS’s set of contacts, (3) paid boosts on Facebook for the survey which targeted residents within a 5 mile radius of Downtown Syracuse, and (4) targeted phone calls and emails from the RMS in-house call center and staff to large area employers encouraging the sharing of the survey letter and link with staff.


  • The Downtown Syracuse Market Potential Model combined a number of different assumptions, known data points, and variables in an attempt to arrive at answering the objective: How many more additional residential units could be added to the Downtown Syracuse market while still ensuring extremely high occupancy rates? A conservative number, an intermediate number, and a ceiling market potential number was provided to the clients based on the market research. The model provided market potential numbers for current (2014) through 2019 figures.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Central New York. RMS specializes in feasibility studies and using a unique combination of demographic trend data from the U.S. Census, competitive insight, and survey data to create a customized algorithm for predictive analytics. This includes such predictive analytics as estimating residential market potential in a city or region, estimating the number of stores or retail locations a specific area could support, estimating the number of long-term care units a market could support, or estimating how well a product or service would do if it was launched. For more information on predictive modeling projects contact Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development at RMS at 1-866-567-5422 or SandyB@RMSresults.com.

ViewPoint is a research panel owned and operated by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). ViewPoint provides businesses with insight for actionable decision-making.  Research panels such as ViewPoint need consumers just like you! ViewPoint members receive opportunities to participate in market research efforts such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, and mystery shopping. Signing up for ViewPoint is easy and comes with great benefits! To sign up go to: http://www.rmsresults.com/viewpoint.


Below are 5 benefits of joining ViewPoint:

  1. Rewards

There is a misconception that joining research panels can be a viable source of income. Don’t get me wrong, you will have opportunities to get rewarded, but it will not be equivalent to a salary. At RMS, most surveys that are sent to ViewPoint members only take 5 minutes or less to complete. Because of this, a common reward for participating in a survey is a raffle entry. Mystery shopping, focus groups, and interviews typically offer rewards up to $150 or more.

  1. It’s easy

Joining ViewPoint is easy. It only has two steps, and once you complete the sign up process you will begin receiving opportunities to participate in market research. The first step asks five basic questions, which allows RMS to gather contact information to connect with you in the future. The second step asks approximately 20 questions, which gathers deeper demographic information that will be used to help us determine if you qualify for particular opportunities in the future.

  1. Participate

Who wouldn’t want to get paid to try new foods, taste beer, rate TV adds, or try new technology? Theses are just a few examples of the market research which ViewPoint members have the opportunity to participate in.

  1. Have your opinions heard

RMS strives to provide clients with the highest quality insight into the minds of their consumers. This insight comes directly from ViewPoint members. ViewPoint members have opportunities to express their opinions, and give feedback to businesses.

  1. Influence business’s decisions

Businesses turn to RMS in search of guidance. The research RMS conducts directly influences the decision-making process of our clients. By joining ViewPoint, you will have the ability to help businesses with current and/or future market research projects.

If you have questions about joining ViewPoint click here.

If you are interested in joining the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel please click here. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about RMS contact Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


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