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Social Dynamics – A Conundrum

Blog post from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

I have been thinking about how fortunate I am to have been awarded this scholarship by WiRE as I am a silent feminist (my apologies, I digress). But I am overly blessed as there have been so many doors opened for me whether directly or indirectly through the ESOMAR Foundation. I mentioned before that the Green Marketing class of 2018 has constituted a 47million trees project (for the 47 counties). This is a ginormous undertaking so we have to pace ourselves thus we have partnered with other individuals who did this unit a while back, PhD students, meaning there is a wealth of information in one seating. Besides that, we have taken it upon ourselves to categorize green companies in Kenya through measures like where they source raw materials. Are the materials sourced locally or imported? And many other such like measures. We have been meeting and so far so good.

Greema Secretariat

This semester has brought with it a favorite lecturer Dr. Owino. My classmates and I went to him last semester to request him to ensure that he teaches us Research Seminar unit. He is so passionate and he has truly honed his teaching skills I figure very few miss his classes. I’m a staunch believer in giving credit where it’s due and I want to appreciate everyone that has held my hand on this journey.

My main reason for penning this article is to share a fear most have but do not know how to overcome it, or does one really? This fear is the one that comes with meeting new people. I should know as I am very categorical in my thinking and voice it too! So how does one balance between staying true to one’s thoughts/opinions (and sharing them) and managing other people’s egos? I bring this up because for anyone who has entered a new environment, be it work related, social gatherings, school/university et al has experienced this. Like I said, I happen to be a silent feminist (not the chronic one, again I digress) and being born a female in a third world country, one has to know what they are about and learn to fight for what one believes in. So having joined the University through the scholarship, I have learned that I’m definitely not the only one that has opinions and most times these opinions differ. I have had some arguments here and there while in class so I tend to think that after a big disagreement, the person I differed with might want nothing to do with me. Most times this is true but not always. Having said that, I recently rowed with a certain gentleman during a Research Seminar class and I was so sure we would never see eye to eye again but I was pleasantly surprised (we now are working together on the green marketing project). This hasn’t been the case as there are those we cannot work together outside of sharing a class. We all bring unique ideas and opinions in the fold but we still respect one another which I think for any social setting, is crucial.

Also, when I started this program I made quite a number of friends, we shared the same classes so we saw each other quite often and kept up with each other. But as most of us are done with the core units and currently finalizing with the specialization units, most of these friendships have wilted and withered. What makes it even more awkward is when we meet unexpectedly and apologize for all the unfulfilled meetups (on both parties of course). But such is life!

My take away is nothing is set in stone and not everything I engage in will stand the test of time. Or that some of these things (or people) aren’t meant to have a permanent place in my life so I should enjoy the moments (and people too) as they come and go. That is such a cliché statement but nonetheless so true!

EF webinar 26 July: What different Qualitative Approaches can be used to achieve various objectives?



ESOMAR Foundation believes that a fair, just and peaceful society is deserved by all and recognizes the immense promise that the research community offers to those striving to achieve these goals on a global level. We bring volunteers and resources together to execute projects and provide financial support to help and support charities and NGO’s to achieve their aims. In this second webinar of the series, the speakers will identify and tackle different  Qualitative Research Approaches for Not for Profit organisations which can be used to achieve various objectives.

Experts from the NFP world and market research agencies will share their experience of using ethnography to bring to life the situation (e.g.) Street Invest’s work to change donors and the public’s perception of and attitude to Street Children. Using Focus Groups and In-depth interviews to develop the actual communications and get the best out of media strategy. Making the best of online qualitative approaches and present new opportunities that technology offers the NFP sector, whilst also mentioning the limitations.


The webinar will feature

MODERATOR Phyllis Macfarlane A lifelong market researcher currently working on the GfK Verein’s University Cooperation Programme to improve the quality of education in Market Research in Africa and China.


Sonia Whitehead is the Head of Research at BBC Media Action, the international charity of the BBC that uses media to inform, connect and empower people around the world. She has worked there for 11 years and has specialized in conducting media research to develop content and evaluate its impact. This work has ranged from understanding people’s perceptions of climate change across Asia and exploring gender-related issues with people living in conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, Darfur and Somalia. Before that Sonia worked in market research both in the UK and India.


Georgina Day joined StreetInvest in 2016, after six years in advertising and CSR communications, working on household brands including Dove, Ford, Virgin Media and Amnesty International. She made the move into the charity sector to see how she could apply her experience to driving positive social change. Georgina combines analysis, strategic communications thinking and creative execution, to tell meaningful stories about StreetInvest’s impact and to build the organisation’s profile.


Edward Appleton is Director Global Marketing and Sales with Happy Thinking People. Edward has worked for over 20 years in market research on both agency and client side. Prior to his current role, Edward was Senior Insights Manager with Coca-Cola in Berlin; before that he was European Insights Manager at Avery Dennison. His career started many moons ago with Mass Observation UK, which he left to join the Insights team at Nestle UK. He blogs regularly at www.researchundreflect.blogspot.de and for Esomar.


26 July 2018, 17:00 CEST


Nicolin is excited about what the future holds!

Nicolin Mamuya, who was granted the first ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in South Africa, works in the marketing department of a large department store and is on her mission to be a strong and successful female!

Seven months into the year and so much has happened. I finally moved out of the place that I last lived in with my mother. It was such a big step however; it was what I needed to remind myself that I am actually growing. After all, with growth comes change. I have gained confidence due to how far I have come and my future goals are only becoming clearer as time goes. I only have God to thank for all the opportunities I have been blessed with.

To recap, I work in the marketing department of the Builders organisation under Massmart-Walmart. I have been shadowing many of the employees in the department to get an idea of how the different roles and activities influence one another. I’m currently working on an event called Decorex, a common Builders event that provides DIY techniques as well as effective gardening techniques. The amount of detail required in planning events is more than I imagined. I’m also working closely with the public relations coordinator by assisting with the planning of other events and creating press releases as well as social media posts. With such good managers by my side, I attend many of the executive meetings and get the chance to listen to the strategy formulations. This makes me feel very much included and I love it!

The company culture is another amazing factor with a DNA in place to remind employees about the behaviour the company seeks to maintain. Everyone is very helpful, happy and patient which also gets me excited to actually go to work. The company has enrolled the graduates into a business school to study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management as part of the graduate programme. The subjects include marketing, finance, human resources, operations management as well as organisational planning, strategy development and implementation. I wrote my first exam on the ninth of July. It wasn’t very good but I’m very hopeful.

I have also started frequently watching inspirational videos seeing as there really is no formula to this life. One of the interesting videos by Jim Rohn in 1981, provided great food for thought. He mentioned that unless you change how you are, you will always remain with what you have. He continues to state that success is something you attract, not what you pursue. Self-development is therefore important. You can start by changing your attitude and then after, understand all you can do through “childish curiosity”. Childish curiosity means that you should not be skeptical but rather be as curious as a child.

All of this adds to my mission to be a strong and successful female. I’m happy with how far I’ve come and I’m excited about what the future holds.

A year down.. 1 more to go!

Blog post from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

This semester has been one of the hardest and most enjoyable in equal measure. I have to admit I didn’t think I would have made it without dropping the ball but I am glad I’m at the half-way junction! Second semester exams are now over with the third semester beckons!

The units this semester have been great, especially Green Marketing. I don’t think I had ever thought of sustainable marketing before I interacted with this unit. The unit was taught at such a crucial time in Kenya, where as a people we haven’t been environmentally conscious. Kenya’s forest cover is less than 10% of total land mass and there are no initiatives to rebuild it and sadly so because we have been experiencing heavy rainfalls the last couple of months. So the Green Marketing class of 2018 in the University of Nairobi, we want to be the next Wangari Maathai’s and take care of our trees as she avidly had before her passing. Please check out Kenya’s Nobel Peace Prize 2004 winner for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’’.  She founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. Isn’t that a fitting description!! I hope I get to make any kind of positive influence, change in the little world around me.

Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Nobel Peace Prize 2004 winner for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’’.

I have been so inspired by the Green Marketing lecturer, Prof. Mary Kinoti. She has brought forth a yearning to be better, to dream and to see it through no matter what. We still have weekly meetings even when we have finalized her classes already but the fire in us to make a difference burns so hot for us still. She nurtured us and hopefully what she taught us will not be in vain!


Prof. Mary Kinoti

I look forward to a new year, there have been lecturers’ strikes still in this beautiful country of ours so hopefully it will not affect us this coming year.

It has been pure pleasure and hard work being honored with ESOMAR-WiRE Scholarship recipient of 2017-2018. I now want to branch out and work with you personally, I hope I shall be worthy of that extended honor!

How you can support

If you are a market researcher, a national market research association, an NGO involved in research or a university interested in a scholarship in your country please contact us at info@esomarfoundation.org

Partners & Sponsors

We are always on the lookout for partners and sponsors. If you are an organisation looking to understand more on how you can support us, please find more information here or contact:  info@esomarfoundation.org


My experience of being a first time traveller and alone!

Blog-post from Esther Tot, who received the ESOMAR Foundation Scholarship to study at the English based Bachelor Degree program in International Business at the National University of Management (NUM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is how my new chapter of 2018 began! On January 8th I won a SHARE Scholarship to study in Myanmar for one semester and I have been there for three months from January 8th 2018 until April 4th 2018, which is the day I left, and I wish I could have stayed longer!

That is where God created a new chapter for my life on New Year Eve. I couldn’t be more thankful to him and everyone who leads my way including my family, my teachers, all the people who are working at the ESOMAR Foundation and WIRE who helped me reach one of my wishes that is to at least travel once in my life. But now after my first experience I actually want some more. This reminds me  of my teacher Ms. Kerry Slattery who once told me that you get addicted when you have traveled once! It’s never enough because that experience is changing you in some way like being more cheerful and happy in life, you meet new people and make new friends and your life would never be the same without making new friends and experience new things.

From that persuasive phrase from my teacher I started to view life from a different perspective. Then lately I started questioning myself, what is life without moving? It’s nothing without moving because you will be stuck in the same place, same zone, and probably your comfort zone. This experience has changed my thoughts and my perspective, as well as my view from being pessimistic and become more optimistic. Honestly, this is the first time that I really broke out of my comfort zone and stepped into a real world. Travelling alone is the scariest thing I decided to do and would like to thank my mom and my family for supporting me to reach my goal. Travelling alone at just 19 years of age has built up my confidence to step out of my comfort-zone and explore my life. These 3 months have been amazing and more than what I had expected!

During these 3 months I met new people, made new friends, and I survived in my new environment even though there were some difficulties at first with the foods texture, ingredients, and smell. I ate both Myanmar food as well as Indonesian food as I was staying with Indonesian students and they were like siblings to me. They always cooked me Indonesian food and I was quite ashamed as I rarely cooked for them any Khmer food (Cambodian food) as our ingredients are rare and hard to find in there even though we are Asian, but we are not the same because we are unique in our own ways.

It was more interesting when it came to religion because in Myanmar it is allowed to embrace many religions. I have now many friends from different religions such as Baptists, Catholic, Buddhists, Muslims. It is quite interesting to get to know and understand and observe the inner behavior of each of my friends from different places and different religions and different languages. This experience has been an important part of my exploring.

During those 3 months I haven’t really stayed in contacted with my family or friends in Cambodia because the Internet connection was really bad, so I wasn’t able to call home often and haven’t really kept up with what’s going on in social media, but it was a nice experience being able to stay away from social media and really connected to people around me physically. I’ve been spending time with my Burmese, Indonesian, Korean, and American friends, discussed about our experiences and exchanged our knowledge, we ate dinner together and cooked for each other and went out and explored Myanmar together which helped make me make new friends almost every day.

On the other hand, I want to talk about the difference between Cambodia and Myanmar in the way people worship Buddhism.  In Myanmar I have seen people going to pagodas to worship their gods everyday as we all know that Myanmar has thousands of temples. In  Cambodia people don’t go to worship in Buddhist temples everyday. I have a relative who practices Buddhism so I learned a little about this fact as I see my relative go to temple to worship his gods only on what is called the “holy day” or on special occasions such as Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben, or Visak Bochea Day and many other days, but as I have mentioned above that it is not every day as in Myanmar. It is my own observation and experience so only if you experienced it yourself you would know what I am saying is true or false, but based on my own experience I can prove myself 75% right at this point. Anyway, this is not about making a declamation about religion; it is just what I have learned from being there which helped benefit my knowledge in observation and understanding and seeing something different from my own country.

People in Myanmar speak many of their own ethnic languages which I can’t understand but I could still communicate (half of the Burmese now can speak a little English including some taxi drivers and food sellers at the supermarket). It is amazing how sometimes me and my Indonesian friends walked across the local food stores and the sellers were not able to speak English, but we could still communicate and buy food by using our body language and we have even learned a little Burmese! To pay we usually opened our phone calculator for the seller to type the price (because it is a local food shop, street food so there is no price tag). When I look back at those moments I feel amazing and proud of all people who are able to communicate to each other no matter how hard it is and this is the amazing fact about our human being that I admire most.

Lastly, I would describe Myanmar as an amazing country even though it has been through a hardship of political background and damaged but it never gave up and it keeps on growing and developing. I am full of admiration of the country and the people. They are so friendly and so hospitable and food is somehow delicious. The thing that I love most is the beauty of their nature. In some places it is the best thing I have ever seen!

I would like to recommend anyone who would like to visit Myanmar, to go to Mandalay, Bagan, Shan State (Innlay Lake, where they speak a language similar to Thai), Yangon, Chin State, and if possible also Kachin State  but a little dangerous as there is a conflict still going on and a small war in that region, so better do some research about the situation first before heading to visit there, but it is such a nice place. I have friends who live there and they told me that they also have snow in December. This place is on my bucket list and I definitely want to visit there some day not just for the snow but for many other beauty of nature they have there, including the Heart Shape Lake (can research in Google), some of the other beaches site which are really, really wonderful.

For this truly amazing experience I would like to thank the ESOMAR Foundation and WIRE who sponsor me in the first place to be able to study at National University of Management and so I could apply for the SHARE Scholarship to go to Myanmar. I would also like to thank all the teachers who helped lead the way. Without all of you I wouldn’t have had such an amazing experience. Thanks everyone so much for helping me to accomplish my education and help me chase my dream and get a better life. I really appreciate everyone and everything, and thanks God for everything.

Partners & Sponsors

We are always on the lookout for partners and sponsors. If you are an individual or an organisation looking to understand more on how you can support us, please find more information here or contact:  info@esomarfoundation.org


The use of Qualitative Research by Non-Profit Organisations

May kicked off with the first webinar of the series How can Qualitative Research support and inform a Non-Profit Organisation’s aims and objectives?  Speaker Sven Arn took insights from the research industry and explained how to address and understand different types of Donors.


It was fantastic to be a part of the kick-off for a new series of webinars set up by the ESOMAR Foundation to help and encourage non-profit organisations to use qualitative research. In our piece we focused on how principles of commercial marketing thinking (like the customer journey) can be translated effectively for non-profits for their communication with the general public and donors.

My co-speaker, Sonia Whitehead from BBC Media Action spoke about how qualitative research is used in actual development projects. Showing that qualitative approaches can be applicable in many different areas of non-profit activity.

Research for non-profit organisations, however, has its own particular set of challenges. These include

  1. Non-profits are driven by their principles and aims rather than by commerce so the very nature of ‘consumer’ research itself may be questioned.
  2. Because they are focused on effectiveness of their activities, they tend to be quite numbers driven and thus less inclined to use qualitative research.
  3. From the donor perspective, the concern that money is being spent on non-essentials rather than going to the projects and people that need it.

In the webinar we talked about how qualitative research can be an excellent reality check and lead to better decisions when it comes to addressing donors. In our experience we have often seen it invaluable in finding that fine line between creating reaction through impactful (and sometimes controversial) messaging rather than reactance.

Adjust claims using qual. research to better reach your target audience

In a recent project we conducted for a conservation organisation, we explored different claims that the organization is planning to introduce to support a new communications strategy. A small quantitative pre-check helped to separate out the strongest three claims, but it was only through qualitative research that we could understand which of the claims had the strongest potential to engage the audience.

Using storytelling research techniques we could explore how the claims worked in reassuring donors that their donation could really make a difference. This does not happen when communication is too optimistic and positive – but is equally endangered if the messaging is too drastic.

Qualitative research offers fantastic possibilities to explore individual reactions but also to set these in a social context. There is something fundamentally social in the relationship that people have with the non-profits they support, but the decision to become a donor is very personal. With qualitative research you can look at both sides of the donor experience and this can be invaluable in optimizing communication and messaging.

Methodologically there are a few considerations to bear in mind. First and foremost, it is important to get research participants on board. Careful explanation is required to avoid perceptions that money is not being wisely spent. This can elegantly be offset (and costs reduced) by offering participants the possibility to donate their incentives.

Traditional qualitative methods like focus groups can be a quick and easy way of exploring the audience’s perceptions and gauging reactions to ideas. Newer, collaborative methods such as co-creation sessions and online communities an excellent way to develop ideas and to engage different audiences and internal stakeholders. It also gives internal audiences a real sense of the point of view of the general public.

One thing we have learnt in translating marketing principles to the non-profit world is that these organisations need to engage fast and emotionally. The decision to support an organisation does not usually come from carefully considered reflection but is made relatively spontaneously.

In summary, qualitative research provides extremely valuable ways of identifying how to achieve this connection.

About the author

Sven Arn is Managing Director and Partner at Happy Thinking People in Germany. He has been with the company since 1991 and became Managing Director in 1997. His research focus is in international and cross-cultural research with a specific expertise in insight development, positioning and brand strategy.

Missed out the presentation? You can still check it here.

Interested to learn more about the topic? Join us for the next webinar!

What different Qualitative Approaches can be used to achieve various objectives?

The ESOMAR Foundation continues the series “How can Qualitative Research support and inform a Non-Profit Organisation’s aims and objectives?” with a new webinar. The second webinar of the series will identify and tackle different Qualitative Approaches that can be used to achieve various objectives. The online event will take place on 26th of July.

The ESOMAR Foundation is embracing qualitative methods as a means to improve the impact of NGO’s. With the knowledge and support of the many qualified researchers in this discipline, the ESOMAR Foundation wants to build an offer of online training webinars to advance knowledge of NGO’s in this discipline and to showcase the outcome of great research.

An overview of the different qualitative approaches

One of the things that non-researchers can find confusing is to understand the different qualitative techniques and what they are best used for.

–        When exactly should you use depth interviews versus a focus group?

–        What is the difference between ethnographic research and qualitative research? And when is ethnographic research appropriate?

–        And if qualitative research is about ‘really’ understanding people through observing body language and identifying unspoken triggers and drivers … how can it be done properly online? When is it appropriate to do qualitative research online?

Experts from the NFP world and market research agencies will share their experience of using ethnography to bring to life the situation (e.g.) Street Invest’s work to change donors and the public’s perception of and attitude to Street Children. Of using Focus Groups and In-depth interviews to develop the actual communications and get the best out of media strategy. Aiming to make the best of online qualitative approaches.



How can Qualitative Research support and inform a Non-Profit Organisation’s aims and objectives?

The ESOMAR Foundation launches a series of webinars to advance knowledge of Qualitative Research for Not for Profit organisations and to showcase the outcome of great research. The first webinar of the series will be held on 23 May.

There is demand for training, to get a better understanding of NFPs need for research, and what research really can do for them.

This series of Webinars will provide a better understanding of why NFPs should be doing more qualitative research as well as provide hands-on learning of the different types of qualitative tools and what they can be used for both offline and online, including social media.

The first webinar will focus on research which will help you identify your different audiences and develop and hone your messages to address each of them.

The webinar will feature:


Sonia Whitehead

Sonia Whitehead, Head of Research, BBC Media Action, will describe their aims, identifying the audience, and give examples of learnings and outcomes from research.

Sven Arn

Sven Arn, Managing Director and Partner, Happy Thinking People, will focus on how to understand donors  – their decision processes, barriers, touchpoints, the total ‘donor experience’ – and then taking the insights from the research to understand how to address different types of Donors.

Phyllis Macfarlane

Phyllis Macfarlane, Treasurer, ESOMAR Foundation, will moderate the Session.



It’s amazing how time flies!

This is the fifth blog from Nutsa Kvitashvili who is following the BA Program of Sociology at Caucasus School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Nutsa is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation Scholarship sponsored by Inizio.

I finished the first semester of my senior year at Caucasus University and this semester was probably my favorite of all because I had subjects which were very interesting and exciting for me, that’s why I wrote my final exams pretty well.  By the way this year is Caucasus University’s 20 year anniversary, so this year we will have a lot of fun activities and events and I’m looking forward to it.

It’s amazing how time flies when you are doing things that you like. Four years ago I became a student at Caucasus University, it seems like it was just a few weeks ago but now I’m in my last semester. Those four years at CU (Caucasus University) were educational and also fun. I met new people and most of them are my friends now, I got to do a lot of fun activities, visit university events and parties and just enjoying student life to the fullest. Besides all the fun being in your last semester is tough because you have more responsibilities and a lot of decisions to make. For example, where should I work? Or should I get my master degree first? Where is it better to get a master degree? In Georgia or maybe in Europe? Which university? Which major should I choose? And there are many questions like this which every senior year student should ask their selves and make these life-changing decisions which could be hard for them. Students start to realize that their academic journey which began when they first started school is now ending. Starting a new chapter in your life can be terrifying because we don’t always know what should we expect in the future. But at the same time with changes come a lot of great opportunities for young adults. The end of something is not necessarily a bad thing, it means that something new is starting and who knows maybe this new journey would be more interesting. American author Caroline Myss once said, “always go with a choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”


About My Life

This is the fifth blog-post from Paola Loy Villagran, the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in Guatemala. 

During these days I am taking final exams in the first trimester, waiting for the best results to enjoy the summer holidays.

We followed a course called Operations Research, a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions, so we can improve time, costs and customer service processes. We can use these applications in airlines, manufacturing companies, service organizations and many others. Hopefully I will be able to implement some of these methods in my own business in the future.

Easter Week in Guatemala

Among other things, as I mentioned in my last blog, Guatemala has a mix of Mayan and Christian traditions that allow us to unite in faith and family. And since we are so close to the celebration I would like to tell you a little about them.

One of the most important, that reminds me my childhood is making carpets.

There are two types of carpets that are made during Easter Week in Guatemala: The carpets along the processional route, made by residents who invite friends and family to assist them, and the carpets in the churches that are made for the holy vigils by the brotherhoods.

Carpets of “Semana Santa” in Guatemala, the greatest expression of art.

On Good Friday the streets of Guatemala are covered with natural, aromatic carpets of flowers, pines, clover and fruits, which the residents put together and place in front of their homes. There are all kinds and shapes, some of them are very long, even up to a kilometer, with colonial and original designs and usually they are made during the 24 hours prior to the procession.

Families making carpets

And because of the intense detail and amount of time dedicated to their creation, they are meant to be destroyed once the processions pass. This is a way for the people to give something of themselves in memory of Christ’s death.

Also, during this month my family and I attend a special event organized by Avon Foundation for Women, with the purpose to educate and mobilize people worldwide on issues that are of vital importance to women like breast cancer education and ending violence against women.

My Family and I during the Avon Race

“Violence against women and girls hides in the shadow of silence” they said during the event, so I think we all must support these activities and help others to develop and implement policies that promote gender equality.