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Research Got Talent Global Winner

During the recent ESOMAR Insights Festival the inaugural winner of the Global Research Got Talent competition was announced. The joint initiative centres around young researchers using market research to support NGOs and Charities in their local community to address meaningful social issues. For this first edition, the global ESOMAR and the ESOMAR Foundation joined hands with the Australian Association of Market and Social Research Organisations; the Peruvian Association of Market Research Companies; the Online Market Intelligence in Russia; with SIMAR, the market research association of Czech Republic and the Market Research Society of India.

After extremely successful pilot competitions in India and Hong Kong, this year was the first time we have brought this initiative to the global stage, this absolutely could not have happened without the logistical coordination and organisation of the above mentioned local Associations and their partners. After rigorous local competitions a winner team was selected from each participating country.

The winners of the local competitions competed in the global stage of the initiative. In the finals we had projects competing from all corners of the world which covered a multitude of social issues. The research project themes included assisting migrants and refugees in Russia, participation of young people in the Czech society, diversity and inclusion of the LGBTI community in Peru, holistic development of underprivileged children in Indian society and combating loneliness for elderly Australians in the face of COVID-19.

It was a great opportunity to learn more about how NGOs and Charities carry out their daily work and how they achieve their goals; it is slightly more rare for the community to hear about how actionable insights resulting from research can benefit a very wide range of stakeholders and add value to our societies.

The entries were extremely valuable and the final stage of the competition was a close-run affair. The global winner of the Global Research Got Talent competition was selected MediaCom Knowledge Team Russia composed of Anna Medvedkova & Olga Kotelnikova and Anna Makarova, Elena Onischenko, Alexander Matushko and Ilgiz Haziev.

Warm Congratulations to the winners of the Local Competitions:

Alfredo Valencia, Ipsos, & Luis Ramos, Universidad Catolica de Peru, Peru,

Stephanie Perry, Ipsos, Australia

Martin Řípa, Tereza Rösslerová & Vít Pavliš, NMS Market Research, Czech Republic

Karan Sabnis, Kantar, India

The jury for this global stage of the competition was comprised of experts from the Associations Executive Committee: Philippe Guilbert (Syntec Conseil), John Tabone (Canadian Research Insights Council), Reg Baker (ESOMAR North America ambassador), Dominique Servant (Chair of the Associations Executive Committee), John Smurthwaite (ESOMAR APAC Ambassador), Patricio Pagani (SAIMO – Sociedad Argentina de Investigadores de Marketing u Opinión), Pravin Shekar (MRSI – Market Research Society of India), Chris Farquhar (MRSHK – Marketing Research Society Hong Kong).

Together with our partners we hope that through this competition we can offer a global voice to all those charities and NGOs that do a tremendous job on the ground. We want to celebrate & promote greater use of good market research, in making a difference.

Study of young people with dyslexia – challenges and needs in the Danish education system

Insights are required to give young people with dyslexia equal opportunities in the education system 

The Egmont Foundation works to safeguard children and young people against “modern poverty” – the lack of learning and life skills. Every year the Egmont Foundation invests approx. DKK 100M with their main objective, that by 2030 all young people are able to complete an upper secondary education.

In 2018, the Egmont Foundation carried out a study focusing on dyslexia among children and young people in Denmark. The aim was to collect insights that could help improve learning and vitality among dyslectics. Previous studies have shown that fewer young people with dyslexia finish an upper secondary education compared to others.

To be able to optimise education for dyslectics, it was necessary to identify challenges of these young people’s school life. More specifically, to understand:

1) education patterns and expectations

2) performance in primary school

3) experienced support

4) use of digital aids

5) the importance of wellbeing at schools, and

6) the importance of social background.

Epinion was chosen to conduct the research. Epinion is a market research agency headquartered in Denmark who empower organisations to improve today and see tomorrow.

A design with survey and register data to maximise the validity of the study

Egmont Foundation chose a solid design using survey and register data to map the challenges among children and young people in Denmark with dyslexia. The two methods were combined to gain a full understanding of ways to improve learning for dyslectics. In both methods, Epinion created a control group for comparison.

Nota, the Danish Library and Expertise Centre for people with print disabilities, has a very large member database of dyslectic children and young people constituting the population. For the survey, a representative group of the population aged 14 to 22 years old was invited, and 1.024 participated. The control group was constituted of 204 randomly selected young people in the same age.

For the register analysis, Nota’s member data was enriched with data from Statistic Denmark adding information about education pattern, grades, family background, income and much more. Only young people aged 25 with dyslexia constituted the population here, because 25 is an important cutting point in the Danish education and employment systems. They were compared to all other young people born in the same year using statistical matching techniques.

The results are now the basis for prioritising efforts and funding on the most pressing issues

Through the study, Egmont Foundation has gained a new understanding of both the wellbeing of dyslectic children and young people in the educational system, and characteristics of dyslectic when it comes to educational level, grades, employment, and much more.

The study showed that dyslectic children and young people, today, don’t have the same opportunities to complete a secondary education as others. The study finds that, while an equal number of dyslectics enter a secondary education, fewer dyslectics completes a secondary education compared to the control group. One of the possible influencing factors could be that dyslectic children and young people earn lower grades in primary school, especially in Danish and English, but also in math.

This is important and highly relevant knowledge for both political actors and NGO’s engaged in creating the best opportunities for the education of all children and young people, despite their social background. We know that education is a significant factor in protecting children and young people with dyslexia against further vulnerability, and the study has already increased the awareness of the problem in the Danish municipalities.

The results of the study provide Egmont Foundation with a basis for prioritising which issues are the most urgent to address when it comes to the wellbeing of dyslectic young people, and which charity projects are the most relevant to fund.

Differences in education patterns when children with dyslexia are compared to other children. Social background is an important factor.

Based on the study, Egmont Foundation formulated three objectives for future efforts:

·       To detect every dyslectic, as early as possible

·       To minimise differences in primary school grades between dyslectic and other children

·       To minimise the effect of social background on the possibilities for dyslectics to complete a secondary education

To be able to achieve these objectives, it is essential that institutions and organizations involved in the sector work together and engage in broad ranging partnerships. Egmont Foundation has decided to invest a minimum of DKK 20M in the coming years to accomplish the objectives and is currently looking for specific projects with solutions to the three objectives to fund


About the Author: Rie Schmidt Knudsen, Head of NGO’s and Prof. AssociationEpinion Global


ESOMAR Foundation Making a Difference Awards – Winners announced!

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s edition of our Making a Difference Awards. We have received a large number of entries – all of which of great value for highlighting and promoting how the best of research has made a significant difference to Not-For-Profits. 

We had an overwhelming response and three winners were chosen by the expert jury. The judges considered projects that made the biggest difference to the most important issues of our time, as identified by the UN SDGs.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Making a Difference Awards!


Making-a-Difference  – Good Health and Well-being

Public Perceptions of Schizophrenia

Çiğdem Penn, Xsights, Turkey

NFP Federation of Schizophrenia Associations


Making-a-Difference  – Gender Equality

Pro Bono Research for Light of Life Trust: Providing earning capability and opportunity to rural women

Indu Upadhyay, Ipsos, India

NFP Light of Life Trust (LOLT)


Making-a-Difference  – Quality Education

Anti-Bullying Campaign Progressive Copy Development

Mariam Ghabrial, Marketeers Research and Consultancy, Egypt



The winners are invited to present their case studies during the ESOMAR Insights Festival from 14-17 September 2020.



Among the entries there were a number of them which deserved a commendation for their excellent approach, so, we are particularly happy to announce the entries which were commended:

Why Don’t We Talk About This? Why Kenya needs to start talking about mental health

Paul Drawbridge, Be Forward Foundation, Kenya

Project Butterfly: Transforming Perceptions of Transgender People

Sarah Jenkins, Magenta, United Kingdom

Human Trafficking survey: Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine

Inna Volosevych, Info Sapiens, Ukraine

Street Sports Incubator

Mohammad Alomari, Jordan Youth Innovation Forum (JYIF), Jordan

The Healthy Priorities

Florencia Rojo, Fine Research, Argentina

The ESOMAR Foundation wishes to thank all those who participated in the competition. We aim to promote and highlight the excellent case-studies – to encourage the use of more insightful and inventive research for massively increasing the overall impact of market research in building a better world!


Impact of The Pandemic in Latin America – Understanding doctors’ perspectives

Let us picture ourselves one year ago. Words like pandemic, lockdowns or new normality, would have sounded as science fiction jargon to most of us. Yet, in September 2019, we happened to conduct a survey across the Americas asking thousands of doctors about how prepared they saw the region to face an epidemic.

The topic was suggested by Save The Children field staff as one of the relevant queries around health priorities. We were of course, completely unaware about how prophetic these answers could turn out to be when for instance 6 out of 10 doctors in both Latin America and US stated that these areas were little or not at all prepared to face an epidemic.

With this precedent, and in the light of the outbreak, we decided to start in March a specific program addressing COVID-19 concerns in Latin America.  By that time, very few cases were reported, and the disease seemed something happening mainly in Europe. However, by the end of May, WHO reported that Latin America outpaced Europe and the US in number of new daily cases. Brazil became the second most affected country in the world and as we write these lines, the country still holds that position.

In LatAm, early lockdowns have been useful to avoid a rapid peek. These strict mobility restrictions have compensated the lack of strong health infrastructures, as the ones in Europe, especially considering that even in some European countries these resources were put beyond their own limits

This delay provided governments with critical time to improve their local hospital resources. This relative progress was even acknowledged in our tracking surveys in most countries in the region, with the significant exception of Brazil.

However, the situation has not yet stabilised and is not clear when the peek might be reached. Even if happening soon, is showing to be a longer process than in other geographies. Furthermore, maintaining strict restrictions for a longer time is also likely to result in a deeper economic impact.

Perspectives from the frontline

In this webinar we have aimed to analyse the pandemic from the standing point of physicians. In an unprecedented data collection effort over 10,000 doctors in 16 countries in Latin America have shared their views.

Results have shown that HCPs have raised two major concerns: Fear of infection (for themselves and their families) and worries about the abrupt fall of the number of patients they are caring, which in most countries are over half the number they used to see before the pandemic. This obviously impacts them economically but also worsens their patient conditions, due to lack of controls, or late diagnosis.

Doctors increased their protests throughout Latin America, demanding supplies and additional personnel to attend to the Covid-19 pandemic

We specifically tracked the estimated patient adherence and according to physicians roughly only 60% has been able to have a proper compliance to their treatments under the current circumstances. And we are not just talking of somebody needing new lenses or thinking about taking an aesthetic dermatological procedure. The same low adherence level is being experienced by patients that are bearing diseases that can be life threatening without proper treatment such as cancer, HIV, diabetes or serious respiratory or cardiological diseases.

Another insight of our survey is that these groups of patients are not only lacking adequate treatment but are particularly vulnerable against COVID-19.  Seven out of ten hospitalized patients by HCPs in our survey, share one of these preexistent conditions. The survey specifically highlights the situation of diabetic patients. These are estimated to be around 9% of the Latin American population, according to public prevalence data, however, we found in our survey that they represent almost 40% of the hospitalized patients with COVID-19. While most governments in the region have properly put emphasis in protecting the elderly, they have failed to show a similar protection and concern for these high-risk patient groups.

Of course, the medical profession is also acknowledging turbulences. In previous research in the region, we have identified the doctor as a vulnerable link within the healthcare system. They had to manage a more informed patient, new technologies and new treatments but with limited resources in systems that offer a restricted access to the best possible treatments. Doctors used to claim they were bearing too much pressure, too little income and felt undervalued compared to earlier generations of doctors.

Sample size 5076 physicians from Latin America

So how has the pandemic changed this? Well, most professionals stated that the pressure in their work environment has increased. This is most noticeable among those on the front line who are fighting the disease under risky conditions, but really affects all kind of professionals who agree that there is an extra burden in calming down their stressed patients.

On the other hand, almost half of all physicians also see a decrease in their income.  The citizen clapping that has been performed at nights in several cities in the region could suggest the appreciation has increased, but overall doctors perceive that it had a minor impact and that the appreciation has not really changed.

So, let us summarize: less patients, less income, higher risk of infection, more pressure… This definitively should have an emotional impact on anyone. And indeed in this context, it is not surprising that more than 9 out of 10 physicians recognize that the pandemic situation has impacted them emotionally suffering one or more of the following symptoms: Fear of personal or family infection, anxiety, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, feeling of isolation, stress, uncertainty, or irritability. Among those on the front line, fear of family and personal infection and fatigue were even significantly most relevant.

Finally, the project also explored in how doctors framed the future. By late July, professionals estimated that it would still take about 5 more months for the situation to be under control and for the population to return to their activities with minimal restrictions. This time has extended from the 3 months estimated in March, or the 4 months in May.

Physicians believe that massive testing capabilities would demand in average six more months and we shall wait one year for the availability of effective drug treatments.

On the bright side the vaccine is looking closer. By the end of May the vaccines were perceived as distant and not available before the following 19-months window. Two months later, doctors estimated collectively that an effective vaccine would be available within a year.

Conclusions and lessons for researchers

This research turns on a red light about the need to take action to protect those who protect us, generating specific demands for the different stakeholders.

For the health authorities, to provide the training, the financial support, the equipment, and the protocols that can make the healthcare system to improve its performance considering the current restrictions.

For the professional associations, to build an improved engagement with their own members helping with training and support.

For the health insurance plans, to take and play financial responsibility.

For hospitals and clinics, to combine protocols that can enable patient care and prevent local infection.

For the pharma industry, other than the obvious demand to develop specific products for COVID-19, there are opportunities to generate communications and actions that can generate empathy with the doctors and work with them and their patients to address the restrictions to treatment adherence, drug access and consultations.

This project has also been an incredible source of learning for market researchers.

Firstly, to check the augmented potential for new alliances. The impressive sample sizes we got in this project would have not been possible without the kind support of Save The Children and ESOMAR Foundation. By endorsing the not for profit nature, these partners facilitated the collaboration of thousands of doctors. These professionals are usually paid to participate in surveys, but we have learned that when approached in the right empathetic tone and with a clear not for profit message, they can generously provide their opinions without any compensation other than a copy of the results.

And alliances can also grow inside our own industry. Accessing best of class platforms and fresh ideas have been possible due to the generous collaboration to this initiative of researchers from Toluna, Reckner Healthcare, Ipsos, Confirmit, Delvinia, Datum, Provokers, PBG, Observatorio 1987, YouUniversal and Unilever among several others.

Secondly, to recognize the opportunity to revisit our methods and technologies that COVID-19 is accelerating. Pressed with limited time and social distancing requirements, we chose to base our exploratory stage using CRIS a virtual moderator platform developed by Delvinia a Canadian colleague. CRIS, was not only able to “chat” with 83 doctors in 5 days but also to unveil many of the emotional challenges that doctors face, which were later confirmed by our quant survey.

But talking about re thinking our technologies,  what impressed me most was when our guest participant at the webinar, Ana Maria Mendez, National Fundraising at Save The Children Colombia shared how they were dealing in the current context to teach kids in the poorer areas in this country. In some rural areas, internet is scarce and sometimes there is no even electrical power supply. So rather than using fancy new virtual platforms, this fantastic team creatively found a solution in a technology that has been with us for over a century and started running remote classes by radio.

Finally, during the whole process we could also witness the deep social need for understanding. The results have enjoyed widespread reception in the media of dozen countries, something that is quite unusual for a HCP survey focused in healthcare topics. This is a confirmation that in spite of the known economic challenges for our industry, more than ever we have the unique opportunity -and responsibility- to give voice to our audiences and offer a compass to support the unprecedented sailing in these uncertain waters.


About the Author: Diego Casaravilla, CEO – Fine Research

Research Got Talent Russia – Winners Announced

The global ESOMAR Foundation and the general partner of the competition in Russia The Platform for Social Change ‘todogood’ announce the winner for the Research Got Talent Russia competition that was conducted on June 19.

The competition encourages young professionals to use market research and insights to support local charities and NGOs to overcome pressing social issues. There were 16 teams made up of young researchers below the age of 35 from different companies, research agencies, and universities in Russia. Each team was allocated a charity/NGO at random; they were required to submit a project proposal about the issue facing the charity/NGO and how they would conduct research to assist them to overcome this issue. Entries were required to reflect a relevant, innovative, and impactful research design project that assesses the organisation’s specific issue. The research projects in the competition aimed to assist change in a broad range of areas and detailed analytic reports were then produced. The research project themes included preserving cultural heritage, assisting migrants and refugees, supporting children with illnesses, and even researching the real and potential audience of mini football.

‘It is important that Russian sociologists are ready to actively work with the non-commercial sector. The teams prepared a detailed analysis concerning the most relevant and important questions of the NGO’s; the quality of the research is the result of the professionalism and enthusiasm of all teams’ – noted Alexander Shashkin, ESOMAR Representative in Russia, CEO of OMI (Online Market Intelligence).

The three finalists were announced, and the winner was the MediaCom Knowledge corporate team for their work in association with Committee for Civil Initiatives. The NGO seeks to support migrants and refugees, providing them with necessary documents, as well as standing up for their rights by changing the attitude that the government and society have towards them. The aim of the research was to identify a portrait of potential private donors for the NGO. The answers of 2,000 respondents were recorded and an analytic report subsequently produced. The tip of the iceberg, some important figures and conclusions, were then shared during the videoconference. For example, the research showed that although only 2% had donated to support migrants and refugees over the past year, although 26% are ready to help if provided with enough information about the cause.

The committee head of Committee for Civil Initiatives, Svetlana Gannushkina, was very pleased with the results of the research: ‘I want to say a huge thank you for the work. As you have heard, we are working with migrants and refugees, and this is a group that experiences xenophobia all over the world. It is a moment of joy for me, as the group (of researchers) provided the information that the public in Russia is not lost for us and is willing to help this cause.’ 


The silver medalists were the Truestory team who worked with Samara Hospice NGO. The NGO has an inpatient stationary unit as well as a network of ambulances and consists of doctors and nurses who care for patients with palliative statuses who cannot be cured. The aim of the research was to investigate the scale of opiophobia in society and in the healthcare community as well as to reveal the main obstacles in anti-pain therapy appointment and give the recommendations how to overcome them. One of the highlights of the research was that trained medics were more likely to consider living with pain an abnormality than other members of the society did. The research also showed that levels of opiophobia were not very high amongst the respondents.

The Reverse Influence team together with ORBI Foundation came in third place. Reverse influence is a corporate team of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (WCIOM). ORBI Foundation is a specialized fund that deals with the problem of stroke in Russia. It helps people who have faced the disease and their relatives, supports medical institutions, and draws public attention to the problem of stroke. The research aimed to identify how much the public knew about the stroke and its effects, and to assess the quality of social support for those who suffered.

The Mediacom Knowledge team will now enter the final ESOMAR’s Research Got Talent global competition. Winners from each region participating in the global competition will present their work to an international audience at the special ESOMAR event in Autumn 2020. The winner will also be given the floor at the ESOMAR Congress 2021 to be held in Toronto, Canada.

The judges for Russia’s Research Got Talent Award competition included:

  • Maria Akulich / The Platform for Social Change ‘todogood’, Head of the NGO Department
  • Elvira Aleynichenko / Head of the Centre for Managing Social Innovations ‘GrantRafting’
  • Vyacheslav Bakhmin / Polytechnic Museum Foundation, Head of the Expert Council
  • Julia Bogdanova / KPMG, Senior manager
  • Olga Drozdova / Agency of Social Information, Head of the Programs
  • Igor Zadorin / NGO ‘Sociological workshop of Zadorin’, Founder and CEO
  • Ivan Klimov / Social Business Group, Managing Partner
  • Julia Romaschenko / Charities Aid Foundation Russia, Head of Programs and Donor Relationships
  • Roman Sklotsky / Vladimir Potanin Foundation, Director of the Centre for Philanthropy Development
  • Dmitry Sosnin / Committee for Civil Initiatives, Project Coordinator ‘Municipal Map of Russia: Areas of Growth’

ESOMAR Foundation and Todogood would like to acknowledge and thank the generous sponsors for helping make this exciting initiative possible: Oprosso – survey programming platform, OMI (Online Market Intelligence) – B2C online panel, LevadaLab – Telegram messenger research bot, Tiburon Research – online qualitative research platform, Top of Mind – surveys with doctors and nurses, UXPressia – UX research platform.

According to all participants of the final event, great work was done, and many members would like to continue to participate in the ESOMAR Research Got Talent initiative. The organizers are also planning to disseminate the knowledge that was created via local publications, webinars and the virtual library.

For further information:

Research Got Talent Russia



Fyodor Shashkin


Ukrainians Fight For The Right To Visit Their Loved Ones in Reanimation Units. Why?

In 2016, the Ministry of Healthcare (MoH) of Ukraine adopted the regulation which directly allowed 24/7 access in intensive care units (ICUs). According to the survey only 20% of respondents were able to visit their family members in reanimation 24/7 in 2019. This regulation wasn’t cancelled during COVID-19 epidemic, but in reality most hospitals in Ukraine isolate all patients in all reanimation units. This June, a 4 year old boy died alone in ICU with leucosis diagnosis – the doctors didn’t let his mother to visit him because of quarantine regime.

Until 2016 only several Ukrainian hospitals allowed visitors in ICUs to be with their loved ones. In most hospitals, ICUs were closed for visitors. Children got psychological traumas because they did not see their parents in the hardest moments of their lives. Some children and adults died alone.

Access to ICUs was prohibited violating the Fundamentals of Ukrainian Health Legislation and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Since 2016 civil activists led the country-wide ‘Open reanimations campaign focused at enabling family members to visit patients in reanimation’. This campaign made the Ministry of Healthcare (MoH) to adopt the regulation which directly allowed 24/7 access in June, 2016. However, implementation of this order is still a big issue. There were signals that hospitals sabotage the MoH’s order, but no strong evidence was available. Lack of actual information limited the ability of activists and MoH in further actions. The research was conducted to study the experience of ICU patients and their families and to define possible measures for its improvement by NGO “Horizontal connections” (whose team launched the campaign) and Info Sapiens’ with the support of experts from other fields. All work is done pro bono.

Online survey was conducted among 498 patients of ICUs and their relatives who were at ICUs within June, 2016 – March, 2019 (after adoption the regulation which allowed 24/7 access). The links to online questionnaire were disseminated by Ministry of Health of Ukraine and other organizations. The survey covered citizens of Kiev and all oblasts of Ukraine. 62% of respondents were at adult ICUs and 38% – at pediatric ones.

Efficient use of resources in the health system is a worldwide challenge. In Ukraine, it is a particularly difficult task due to: a) the lack of reforms in the healthcare for 30 years after the Soviet Union collapse, b) the lack of solid economic growth to finance the transformation of the system, c) turbulent political life, d) war, etc.

The research provided a unique assessment (no other data on that topic is available) of the actual level of implementation of the MOH’s order three years after its adoption – only 20% of respondents were able to visit their family members in reanimation 24/7.

The survey showed that efforts are needed both on supply and demand side – only 53% of respondents are aware of the regulation which allows 24/7 access. It uncovered the main problems of personnel-patient interaction – it is the personnel’s attitude that people suffer from the most; not bribes, not doctor’s (un)professionalism, not even the health-related worries.

The survey provided evidence against some popular myths, which allows refocusing the efforts of stakeholders on the truly important issues. Involved NGOs are already reshaping their activities to focus on the main problems (as revealed by the survey). In particular, the research brought up the need to:

1. Continue strengthening the public demand for the openness of ICUs.

2. Support patients/family members by providing information about ICUs.

3. Change the mindset of the healthcare workers, managers and officials by providing them with information, trainings, and support on the way of ICUs opening.

4. Elaborate guidelines for healthcare management how to improve facilities and gain resources at hospitals for rooming-in (panel screens, chairs for parents, antiseptics, etc.).

This research helps to fight for the right to get a medical aid without systematic attacks on one’s dignity and severe struggle for the information or human contact.

The results of the study were shared with the Deputy MOH, over 60 chief doctors, oblast health management divisions, members of parliament and patients’ organizations. MOH and the minister personally put them on their website and Facebook page.

National Health Service considers integrating results into the education programs for health professionals and updating their standards.

Our partner NGOs developed guidelines for ICU visitors for online and offline distribution. The MOH helped distribute them to the hospitals.


About the Author: Inna Volosevych, Deputy director – Info Sapiens.
Info Sapiens was established in September, 2018 by the former employees of GfK Ukraine Departments of Operations, Social and Political Research, Consumer Product Research, and Qualitative Research due to the closure of GfK research activities. Overall about 30 employees moved from GfK to Info Sapiens. In 2019, the company conducted about 500 research projects including three exit polls, the last of which showed the most accurate results and was the largest in the history of Ukraine (about 40,000 voters were surveyed). Info Sapiens in one of the top Ukrainian research agencies conducting social, political, and marketing research.


This article is published as an entry for our Making a Difference Awards.

You can still submit your entry for this year’s edition of ESOMAR Foundation Making a Difference Awards. This is a chance to applaud and reward the best examples of Market Research making a difference to the world’s Charities.

Submit your entry here!

Audience research in the time of COVID-19

At BBC Media Action, audiences are the centrepiece of everyday work. This key BBC value is also vital for creating effective communication for development. To understand their audiences and assess the impact, their work begins and ends with research – and this remains true even in a time of crisis.

Sonia Whitehead, Head of Research at BBC Media Action and ESOMAR Foundation board member shared some insights on the work done by her team during the Covid-19 outbreak. In the following piece, we will get an idea of the tremendous value that research brings to charities and not-for-profits from a media and communication standpoint. We will understand the international work done by her team with similarities and differences between countries and learn what her research teams are doing in getting to the heart of a problem.

Research helps BBC Media Action to understand our audiences’ perceptions and concerns relating to the disease, as well as what information they need to make decisions and keep their families safe. This in turn enables our production teams to produce trusted, clear and actionable media and communication content that reaches people – including vulnerable communities – at scale, stands out in a sea of competing information (not all of which is true or helpful), and ultimately saves lives.

But how can research teams continue their vital work when they’re working at a distance from production colleagues, when the pace of production is so fast, and when face-to-face field work is out of the question?

Adapting our pre-testing methods

It can be difficult to keep pace with the need for rapid programme development when it comes to producing COVID-19 communications content. But it’s not good enough to say ‘we don’t have time to test’. You might get a piece of content on air or online more quickly – but the impact may be lost if the tone isn’t culturally appropriate, language about physical distancing too confusing, or your call to action is not clear enough for audiences.

So our message is simple: wherever possible, ‘pre-test, pre-test, pre-test’.

There are ways of gaining quick feedback under lockdown. Whilst working from home, our research team in Myanmar conducted some pre-testing of one of the new BBC Media Action COVID-19 public service announcements (PSA) with their friends and families. They found that respondents could recall the key information points from the PSA – about washing your hands and covering your face when coughing – and felt it was particularly engaging because of the traditional music and lively delivery, making it unique from more serious PSAs they had seen on other media platforms. They recommended that the production team continue with this positive, encouraging tone to engage audiences.

A scene from one of the COVID-19 public service announcements in Myanmar

Inspired by this example, our research team in Indonesia were testing content with friends and family via telephone and social media, as well as getting back in touch with a group of young people who recently took part in qualitative research about climate change. They’re setting up closed Facebook groups through which they can pre-test content, such as short new radio dramas tackling COVID-19 misinformation and rumours, to receive rapid feedback. It’s a similar story in Afghanistan, where we’re using social media to recruit volunteers for online focus group discussions. They have used different ways to pre-test, such as contacting respondents and playing content via mobile.

Utilising local networks and contacts

With field work limited by local restrictions on movement, we’re relying on our wide-reaching networks and contacts nurtured over the years to help us access respondents and continue our vital research – to ensure programming reflects people’s changing needs.

For example, in Zambia, we’re working closely with our national network of community journalists – developed through years of work strengthening community radio in the country – to help us understand the needs and concerns of hard-to-reach audiences. We’re looking to set up simple, safe and physically distant mobile surveys for them to run in their communities to help us understand how perceptions of, and concerns about, the pandemic differ across rural and urban areas.

Similarly, in Bangladesh, where access to Cox’s Bazar refugee camp is now restricted, our researchers are making regular phone calls to our network of Rohingya volunteers to continue taking the pulse of the community. We’re sharing the insights gained – including persistent, widely circulating COVID-19 rumours and how to counter them – through our longstanding What Matters?’ bulletin in partnership with Translators Without Borders.

And in Cambodia, where our researchers had been in the midst of a panel evaluation for our popular youth project Klahan9 (Brave 9), we’re pivoting the focus of our research to include perceptions on COVID-19. The team is also exploring how to draw upon our network of Klahan9 youth ambassadors to tell us more about how they and their communities are experiencing the pandemic.

The BBC Media Action Data Portal – an open source portal containing a wealth of our existing audience research

Revisiting our existing data and building partnerships

To respect our audiences, it’s important that we use our existing insights relevant to COVID-19 and not conduct research for the sake of it.

Many of our teams around the world have been looking carefully at our wealth of existing audience research (much of which is open source and available on our website and Data Portal), re-analysing the data to draw out new insights around media access and usage among vulnerable audiences such as older people or people with disabilities. We’re also pulling out useful data from previous projects around health and hygiene – for instance, barriers to, and enablers of, good water, sanitation and hygiene practices in NepalKenya and Ethiopia.

Externally, we are building relationships with organisations across key sectors (including market research, academic and humanitarian) which are producing surveys and collecting useful insights on COVID-19 – such as ACAPsInnovations for Poverty ActionKantar and the International Survey on Coronavirus, for information relevant to our projects.

Cross-country collaboration

Despite restrictions around freedom of movement, researchers at our London headquarters and across our network of country offices are working more closely than ever before – sharing expertise, exchanging COVID-19 research tips and tricks, and comparing cultural insights through regular calls and online forums. And we’re supporting our country offices virtually from London to better analyse their digital performance and monitor online chatter about the pandemic – using tools such as Crowdtangle’s COVID-19 tracking to help production teams fine-tune their outputs.

Encouragingly, there are early signs that our work is paying off. Some of the COVID-19 PSAs produced by our Myanmar team, for instance, are achieving record levels of online engagement. The Ministry of Health has even asked to make this PSA (watched nearly 3 million times and shared by 46,000+ people) official, for broadcast through national TV partners.

The situation is always changing. But we will continue to innovate and review research methodologies to ensure we’re providing essential insights to production colleagues, and best serving our audiences.


About the Author: Sonia Whitehead, Head of Research at BBC Media Action and ESOMAR Foundation board member.

(Originally posted in BBC Media Action Blog)

Empowering Embodied Healing: Evidence Based Impacts of a Trauma-informed Yoga and Mindfulness Program

Given the uncertain and sometimes chaotic events many of us are experiencing on a daily basis, it is not surprising that the health care foundation Well Being Trust estimates that over 70,000 Americans alone will die in the coming years due to deaths linked to mental health challenges: suicide, overdoses from alcohol or illicit drugs, or “deaths of despair”. The entire world has been impacted by the pandemic, and humans are yearning for proven mental health resources to assist in increasing mood, decreasing stress and anxiety, and positively impacting the ability to fall, and stay asleep.  Yoga 4 Change’s programming, although having had to pivot to a virtual environment, is one option for individuals living in the communities where the organization serves (i.e., North Florida, South Florida, Tampa Bay and Central Florida), and because of the shift to offering programming virtually, individuals can access resources through the organization’s YouTube channel.

Yoga 4 Change is the passion project of founder and executive director, Kathryn Thomas. Kathryn served in the United States Navy as a Naval Aviator and in her service suffered a disabling injury while on deployment. For Kathryn, yoga became a tool for healing and recovery. Yoga 4 Change was born out of that empowering journey. Recognizing the power of yoga, Kathryn set out to bring the benefits to underserved populations including veterans, incarcerated individuals, those struggling with substance use disorder, and youth. Yoga 4 Change provides curriculum-based programming that promotes well-being and empowers the segments it serves, creating healthier, safer communities, one class at a time.

Evaluation 4 Change was developed through collaboration and a desire to assist other nonprofits in achieving sustainability by demonstrating impact through a research lens. Evaluation 4 Change recently completed a yearlong evaluation of Yoga 4 Change’s correctional programming. The groundbreaking multi-method research Evaluation 4 Change executed, helped secure a Florida Blue Foundation grant to develop, implement, and evaluate a one of a kind yoga and mindfulness curriculum to specifically address opioid addiction.

Community Transition Center – y4c

The study assessed a 16-week trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness curriculum offered for men and women incarcerated in three correctional facilities in Jacksonville, Florida. Data were collected both pre and post curriculum and pre and post-class session for three groups, voluntary participants, sentenced participants, and a control group. The multi-modal outcome data included both quantitative and qualitative self-reported and biometric measures of mental and physical well-being including assessment of coping skills, overall health, sleep, forgiveness, self-compassion, emotional awareness, emotional regulation, anxiety, anger management, and post-traumatic growth. Blood pressure, heart rate, mood and stress level were measured before and ager each class.

Pre and post curriculum assessment was conducted through a survey including multiple empirically validated scales and open-ended qualitative questions. The evaluation protocol was specifically tailored to the unique challenges of working within correctional facilities. Qualitative outcomes explore participant experience and program impact. Advanced statistical analyses were conducted, and qualitative data were coded and assessed for themes. Among outcomes, there were significant improvements in health, coping, forgiveness, self-compassion, emotional regulation, and post-traumatic growth. Participants experienced improved sleep and decreased anxiety. Overall, results are promising and indicate significant improvements in mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Yoga 4 Change offers a unique, evidence-based, low-cost, healthy way to treat trauma and improve mental and physical health by integrating physical movement with thematic teachings including a focus on gratitude, vulnerability, connection and self-compassion. Outcomes provide empirical support, validating the impact of Yoga 4 Change’s curriculum. This study provided the foundation that allowed Yoga 4 Change to apply for and receive a grant from the Florida Blue Foundation to develop, implement and evaluate an empirically based trauma-informed opioid curriculum. As a result, Yoga 4 Change is expanding programming to three new markets and developing sustainable programming for those facing substance use disorders.

This research takes important steps to validate and elevate the field of yoga service as a whole. Internationally, there is a growing awareness of the benefit of yoga and mindfulness in service to people who have experienced trauma. Yet even with growing empirical validity, not all yoga is trauma-informed and not all yoga is offered in a universally inclusive way. If not approached intentionally, yoga has the potential to negatively impact practitioners – especially those who are survivors. With a growing number of yoga service agencies around the world, a strong understanding of and empirical support for trauma-informed programming becomes essential.

Pace Center for Girls – y4c

Through the implementation of research initiatives, curriculum development, program evaluation and training, Evaluation 4 Change will assist other nonprofits with building sustainability and ensuring quality programming. Evaluation 4 Change will work to raise awareness of yoga service and the importance of evidence-based programming. Not all yoga is the same, and not all yoga is beneficial for survivors of trauma. Despite this fact, there is little awareness in the field of yoga about the importance of recognizing the impacts of trauma. Evaluation 4 Change will provide education around the importance of trauma-informed approaches, creating yoga spaces that are as intentional and as safe as possible. Evaluation 4 Change will shape the field of yoga service by ensuring programs are intentional and impactful. Programs will have data on what is effective and evidence to assist them in best serving their constituents.

The research conducted by Evaluation 4 Change exists at the intersection of yoga and social justice. It demonstrates the tangible impacts of alternative approaches to supporting those who are impacted by trauma and there exists the potential for significant social impact. Through both research and practice, we can promote resilience in the populations with which we work.

About the Author: Danielle Rousseau, Assistant Professor – Boston University, U.S.A.


This article is published as an entry for our Making a Difference Awards.

You can still submit your entry for this year’s edition of ESOMAR Foundation Making a Difference Awards. This is a chance to applaud and reward the best examples of Market Research making a difference to the world’s Charities.

Submit your entry here!

NGO Marketing & Semiotics

Marketing is hard. This is equally true for organisations and marketers in non-profit and private sectors. It should be easy, but it is difficult. One of the main reasons is because consumers – or patients or the general public, depending on how you want to characterise them – have minds of their own. They have free will and they often frustrate marketers by not doing what is wanted of them. Examples:

  • They don’t donate to your charity, but they donate to rival charities.
  • Health and Safety notices have to be erected to control their behaviour. People often ignore these notices.
  • They keep trying to treat colds with antibiotics.
  • They won’t stay indoors under lockdown, even when the risks of coronavirus are explained to them.

This is a tricky situation but in research we do have a way to handle it. There’s a powerful tool in the box of market research methods. It’s great when you are faced with intractable behaviour.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, which importantly includes words, like “antibiotics”, for example. It is a research method which investigates the meaning of signs and examines how they are connected to local, cultural values. In turn, this helps both charitable and profit-making organisations to design better communications.

There are three tips I can share with you today, or we could even call them three stages, as they work in a sequence. They are actions that I take in my daily work as a provider of semiotic research and marketing strategy. You can use them too; here they are.

Step 1. Identify keywords in consumer talk. Clearly, when users of the NHS pressure doctors to prescribe antibiotics, the word “antibiotic” is functioning as a powerful tool in those conversations. In another data set, for example if we look at the public talking about lockdown non-compliance, we might find that words like “party”, “jogging” and even specific terms like “kebab” are all achieving powerful effects in conversation.

Step 2. Identify the function of those words. On inspection of your data, perhaps you conclude that patients are quite prone to feeling disempowered in conversations with doctors and anyone in medical uniform. Maybe the interactions show that speakers are using technical terms such as “antibiotics” as part of an attempt to gain or maintain power, or to get the doctor to take them seriously. Observe the way that the function of words expresses a consumer need.

Step 3. Design marketing communications which acknowledge the need and work with it rather than trying to override it (as with disobeyed Health and Safety notices). A great example is found in a recent ad by Nike, a brand which is seriously affected by the contraction of sport and outdoor games during the pandemic. Nike knows that its customers would rather be playing football outside, which cannot happen, but it also knows why people want to do that. What rewards are they getting? The rewards are things like a sense of achievement, approval and recognition from others. Nike offers consumers its extensive suite of indoor, online training opportunities as a worldwide gathering of athletes: a place where the sought-after rewards are even more abundantly available than they were before the virus.

Semiotics is a research method and it is used by charities, NGOs and other third sector organisations as well as private businesses. It decodes the language and then the behaviour of the public and finds solutions to marketing problems. Semiotics includes a large suite of techniques that any researcher can learn to use and now a self-guided course is available in a new book. “Using Semiotics in Marketing: How to achieve consumer insight for brand growth and profits” (Rachel Lawes, 2020, Kogan Page) is available worldwide now via local book stores, Amazon and koganpage.com

Learn more about this on our latest webinar. You can now access the “Standing Out From The Crowd: NGO Marketing and Semiotics” webinar recording and slides on-demand!

About the Author: 

Dr Rachel Lawes, Owner Lawes Consulting Ltd.

From Panic To Pivot

Pivoting your organization’s operations during a global crisis is no simple matter. On top of event cancellations, funding setbacks, and everything in between, there’s the basic reality that your staff and stakeholders have their own unique personal obstacles occurring concurrently to the evolving tasks at hand. In our webinar session, hosted by the ESOMAR Foundation, we set some clear and actionable goal posts for NPOs struggling to find an equilibrium in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with the lives and livelihoods of nonprofit professionals in mind. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:

Current Realities for NPOs

You’re not alone: charitable organizations across disciplines and sectors are facing unforeseen challenges during the pandemic, the impacts of which will likely be lasting.

  • CNN reports that the pandemic could mean the end for many NPOs and charities as their major fundraising events are cancelled and usual sources of donation income are put on hold.
  • As of March 2020, Nonprofit Quarterly was reporting 86% of NPOs had already made changes to their programming, including fundraising events.
  • Charity Navigator reported that, as of mid-April, 83% of nonprofits reported they are suffering financially. Of those nonprofit organizations experiencing financial hardship, the average expected decline in revenue is 38% for the April -June time period.

In preparation for our presentation we asked a number of nonprofits, ranging in mission and aid sector, for feedback on their current challenges relating to COVID. By and large, adjusting programming to a remote environment has been the most difficult, with one respondent stating, “our biggest challenge has been to move F2F (face to face) to digital.” In this same vein, event cancellations, and especially fund-raising focused events, are going to have major effects on organizational budgets. Most respondents said something along the lines of, “we are fundraising but have changed our tactics considerably.” And, out of all of the responses we received, most mentioned having already adjusted their budget to prepare for the challenges now and ahead with some saying they’ve had to adjust as much as 100%.

The Fundraising Pivot

Many of us are unsure how to move forward with fundraising or even if fundraising is possible right now. While generating revenue isn’t ideal at this time, it’s not impossible but it will require a rethinking of the tactics we’ve used in the past. For those in a major gifts capacity, the ideal turn should be toward donor retention and relationship building. The Chronicle of Philanthropy echoes this idea, saying, “building and keeping strong connections with our donors by crafting clear, thoughtful plans and increasing individual outreach is crucial.” For this reason, taking steps to solidify and strengthen donor relations is first and foremost on our pivoting plan. Some tips for getting these conversations going:

  • Reach out to check in from a place of empathy.
  • You decide the cadence of communication based on your relationships.
  • Talk about them, not you. Your needs will come later.
  • Gather points of view to inform your planning.

Once your donors have been looped into your organization’s communications, move on to your community. Everyone in your organization’s eco-system has something to contribute to your plan of action moving forward. Stakeholders and Boards are especially critical at this time; their expertise and diverse backgrounds can be leveraged to assist with organizational leadership and funding tactics. Similarly, your volunteers have an important, on-the-ground perspective of the most pressing needs impacting your community and their insight can inform your planning in an indelible way. Be creative with the venues you use to connect with these communities — social media, emails, phone calls; whatever is least likely to alienate and most likely to create valuable touchpoints for future engagement.

Budgeting and planning will rely heavily on the feedback you’ve just gleaned. Take a realistic approach when analyzing your current revenue streams and adjusting your budgets; know that you’ll likely continue to adjust your budget as conditions evolve. Pay close attention to your bottom line here and develop a number of possible approach scenarios addressing the myriad ways events could continue to unfold—and impact—the way you operate. Keep the lines of communication between your marketing teams and financial decision-makers open; the way you communicate as an organization will have a direct impact on the way your community responds to your needs. Remember: you control the story you tell right now about your nonprofit; make sure it’s in line with the information you’ve gathered.

Finally, take the leap to digital. With so many orgs operating on a limited staff, digital options can provide an extra hand where one is lacking. That might look like putting some extra funding into website integrations or taking advantage of automatic invoicing — whatever lightens the load and quickens the pace by which community need is addressed.

 The Programming Pivot

Our big takeaway when it comes to a pivot to online programming is that moving things online isn’t just a temporary fix; it’s an investment in the long-term reach of your organization’s message. If your organization has been reluctant to try online programming, this is your wake-up call, not just for diversifying your offerings but also for reaching an increasingly global community. While we’re all experiencing waves of webinar fatigue, by and large, you have the most captive online audience for your message right now and it is THE time to get them engaged and involved with the work you do.

In our aforementioned survey of fellow non-profit organizations, we found that, overwhelmingly, event cancellations and remote programming adjustments were the biggest obstacle organizations said they are currently facing. Issues such as maintaining client relationships and content sensitivity were especially popular when we asked what obstacles were limiting online programming offerings. While a true programming pivot is going to be different for everyone there’s one thing we do know: it won’t just be webinars. While webinars are a useful tool in the online programming pivot game plan, they just don’t cut it when it comes to recreating the experience of in-person events in toto. Your job now, as the pilot of your organization’s programming pivot, is to uncover what makes your events special, engaging, and impactful and then work to find the online tools that will mirror or enhance those qualities—not just the content but the feeling and overall experience of being part of your larger mission.

How can one home in on those qualities and figure out what your community needs from your organization right now? One easy way is to make those open channels of communication we described in our fundraising pivot work as pipelines for community feedback and insights. If you have a community Facebook or LinkedIn group you can post a brief survey or ask open-end questions to get a conversation going on the platform which will double as an engagement opportunity for your community. You might also check in with any internally facing stakeholder groups like volunteers, staff, and board members and just ask very directly what would be helpful to them at this time. All of these communication points need to work both ways: they should deliver information that informs your pivot, but they should also keep your extended community engaged with your mission and feel supported by your cause.

Once you know what your community needs and why they’re staying engaged with your cause, it’s time to figure out what online platforms are going to recreate as much of your in-person event experience and/or bring new benefits to your community’s continued engagement. One example of this is leveraging the social media platforms you might already have to become engagement spaces/event spaces…with a dash of creative problem-solving. During our presentation an attendee asked how an NPO that relies on exhibitor space to feature sponsors might make a programming pivot — in this case, a well-oiled social media account can provide a venue, help boost sponsor branding, and have a lasting value for your community all in one. Stakeholders and marketing teams too will have much to offer when it comes to bringing things online; let the connections and gifts that your board members bring to the table inform the way you perform outreach on these new platforms.

We truly feel that a pivot IS for NPOs and charities of every shape and size but it will take an evolutionary approach, a community-focused response, and plenty of grace for organizational staff and support alike to get there. Focus on what will maximize impact without asking for too much additional bandwidth from those implementing changes and rely on your Board to drive the decisions that risk long-term organizational health. Organizations that work as a collective force will be the ones who walk through the line of fire and come out stronger on the other side.

Missed the webinarYou can now access the “From Panic to Pivot: A Practical Guide to Remote Programming (…and Fundraising) for NPOs and Charitable Organizations Operating during Times of Crisis” webinar recording and slides on-demand!

About the Author: 

Jessica Sage, Marketing and Events Director at Women in Research