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ESOMAR Foundation’s work with Paragon

One of the most important relationships we have as ESOMAR Foundation is with Paragon, another Market Research Industry initiative, which is trying to make the world a better place. EF is a member of Paragon – you can find the list of members on the Paragon website: http://www.paragonpartnerships.com/


What exactly is Paragon?

Paragon Partnerships was launched in 2016, by Stan Sthanunathan of Unilever, in response to the UN’s 17th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – the call for private sector partnerships to help the UN achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by 2030.

It was realised very early that the sustainable development goals cannot be achieved by any single organisation – even the UN! A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. And these inclusive partnerships, built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.

Hence, Paragon is the initiative of the global market and social research industry sector, aimed at enabling Governments, Academics, the UN and NGOs around the world, which are working to tackle the 17-point plan of the UN Global Goals – end poverty, combat climate change, and fight injustice and inequality around the world – to connect with market, opinion and social research companies, which are committed to helping by providing access to quality data and insights on the issues that the world is facing.

Measuring Progress with the UN SDG’s

One of the really core objectives of Paragon is to help measure progress with the UN goals to not only keep governments and policy makers accountable, but also gauge how much we are getting closer to the targets so that new policy adjustments can be made – so, in 2017, an 11-country study was conducted online for the UN SDG Action Campaign, sponsored by the Paragon Members: Kantar Public and Lightspeed.

As a result, a benchmark was successfully established for these countries to improve on as they continue their journey to meet the SDGs by 2030.

In 2018 the UN SDG Action Campaign requested further support to measure progress with the 2018 priority SDG’s in targeted emerging markets where accurate measurement is only possible using representative random probability methodologies. So, Paragon, the Global Research Business Network (GRBN), and ESOMAR Foundation called for volunteer agencies in the selected countries to sponsor a survey for the UN. The survey was conducted in 3 countries Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Romania. Kantar Operations India analysed the data, and the presentation of the data was delivered by Kantar Public at UN HLPF (High Level Political forum) Meeting on July 13th, 2018.

Jordan Robinson, Director for the Development Practice, Kantar Public, presents the 2018 study results at an event during the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.

Subsequently the 4 agencies have been connected with local UN representatives and promoted and recognized by the UN SDG Action Campaign on their website and in social media etc. UN SDG Action Campaign has also made the data publicly available for any government organization and/or NGO to use.

We are currently talking to UNSDG Action Group about the measurement programme for 2019, and helping to train UN volunteers in Interviewing skills. The measurement work is currently short-listed for the UK Market Research Society’s President’s medal – which is great – please do keep your fingers crossed for us.

Measuring World Happiness!!

The other key initiative that we are involved in at this very moment is Understanding World Happiness – a project for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN): This is about helping to find out the determinants of happiness in people`s lives through market research.

We have been contacted by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University for a project to feed into his efforts around the “World Happiness Report”, and “Global Happiness Policy Report”, as published annually, with contributions from SDSN, which is headed by Prof. Sachs, and with input from several scholars, and research institutes and universities around the world.

At the moment they are getting ready for the next publication of these reports(2020), and they would like to have the contributions of Global Market Research Industry, as represented by Paragon.

We thought the best way to approach this would be through, first, making a desk research/rewind of all existing MR material on this topic, and we have already received lots of feedback from the Paragon partners about what already exists in this space.  These will help us in wrapping our heads around what is available and also will help in the shaping of the new study.

And then the second thing is finding a research vehicle to run the research on (it will be US based initially). We think we have identified a good random probability survey which is run by a Paragon Agency partner, but we will probably want to supplement it with some NLP, or qual, etc.  And then we will put together a Paragon team to author the research results and the article/chapter in the next World Happiness Report.

This will be quite a high-profile work that finds its way all around the SDG community globally.  Jeffrey Sachs is one of the people with the most authority in this field.  He is one of the world’s most renowned economists, as well as serving as Special Advisor to current and past UN Secretary Generals and he was the architect of the Millennial Goals. So it is a really exciting opportunity for us.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

Those are our 2 key initiatives of the moment – we are also looking at helping NGO’s with understanding social listening and data visualization, because they know that they need to keep up with the latest techniques and methodologies – but need to understand how it can work for them. A bit like the series of webinars we have run as ESOMAR Foundation to help NGO’s understand how qualitative research can help them achieve their objectives more effectively and sustainably.

About the Author:

Phyllis Macfarlane, Member of the Board and Treasurer, ESOMAR Foundation

Learning a lot

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

The last months I have been so busy that I have not even felt them, I am really learning a lot, working hard for the final exams this year.

I am recently receiving an Anthropology of Consumption and Neuromarketing course which introduces us to study different areas of consumption from a multidisciplinary perspective, combining approaches of the social sciences to understand the decision-making process of the consumer in a globalized environment. The main research method we are using is qualitative, particularly ethnographic. The course combines theoretical, analytical and methodological elements, all based on academic books and journals of recognized prestige.

Also, we are working in the design of effective and innovative distribution channels for real companies during classes, so it gives all students the opportunity to learn about current trends of distribution, communication and digital management to achieve business efficiency. The courses challenge us to solve cases of real companies, defend points of view as a team, like people in real companies do every day.

My friends and I during a presentation about cardamon companies

In personal terms, my birthday is coming soon, so I am really looking forward to celebrating it with all my family and enjoy one of the many traditions of the country and that I like so much to mention in this blog.

I am talking about the enormous and colorful kites soaring over the skies of Guatemala on the first and second of November of each year, a tradition that is part of the All Saints’ Day celebrations.

Kites with diameters between 24 and 30 meters are made of cloth and paper with bamboo frames, they usually contain religious or folkloric themes so they can be flown in the nearby Sacatepéquez cemetery to honor the dead during special dates.

People from all around the world visit Santiago Sacatepéquez during this event in order to learn about the legends of the country and that special day. According to the elders, the impact of the wind against the paper takes away the bad spirits, so the locals spent hours to make kites so the good spirits remain calm and stop receiving unwanted visits.

Giant kites during the celebration in Guatemala.


EF webinar 28 November: How can Qualitative Research support and inform a Non-Profit organisation’s aims and objectives?

The 4th Webinar in this series focusses on research design and action. Even when we fully appreciate the value that qualitative research can bring, the possibilities of different types of qualitative research, and have seen examples of some particularly challenging projects – it is not always easy or obvious to see what to do in your own particular situation. So in Webinar 4 we will pull all these different strands together and look at how to identify the issue that needs to be addressed and think about the best, and most cost-effective, research design to address it.  How to define the key insights, and then – most importantly – how do you define the most appropriate and most effective actions to take, based on the insights and findings of the research?

This webinar will give listeners an overall understanding of how to design and deliver a qualitative project that will really make a difference to their Not-for-Profit organisation’s impact.

MODERATOR Phyllis Macfarlane
ESOMAR Foundation

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.

Astrid Kunert
Co-founder and strategist
QMR – Qualitative Mind Research

Astrid Kunert is the co-founder and strategist of QMR, the Munich based Institute for high-end qualitative research. With more than two decades of market and social research experience, Astrid and her team have served national and international clients in a wide variety of industries including automotive, financial services, media as well as government institutions and NGOs.

Barbara Kalusche
Senior Qualitative Research

Barbara Kalusche is a senior qualitative research consultant based in Dresden, Germany. For the past five years, she has been using her psychology, journalism and deep democracy facilitation background to create forums for deeper understanding in highly polarized environments e.g. by developing facilitating-deutschland and oneworlddresden a platform for German and rural Kenyan students to connect.

Emmanuel Karisa Baya

Organic Farmer and founder “Peace from the soil”

Emmanuel Karisa Baya is an organic farmer from the coastal province of Kenya. He is the founder and executive director of Magarini-Centre, a CBO that teaches organic farming and supports 252 orphan children. In the 2017 general election he ran I for a seat in the local council (MCA) and is since then leading the local voter empowerment project Soil Peace in his community.

Astrid Noviant
Client Advisor
Kantar TNS Indonesia

Astrid is a team leader in TNS qualitative unit in Indonesia. She is a psychologist graduated from the University of Indonesia and have her Master of Science degree from Rijks Universiteit Groningen, the Netherlands, and with more than 10 years of research experience, she has the passion of understanding human behavior. With rich experience of working both in the research agency side as well as consumer and market insights role with two different multinational clients (Heinz & Samsung). Astrid is an expert in providing deep and sharp analysis with excellent understanding of business issues. She also provides added value of cultural context and psychological aspect beyond the findings.


28 November 2018, 17:00 CET

Making a Difference session @ESOMAR Congress 2018

ESOMAR Congress has been leading the way in insights innovation for 7 decades, and this year is no exception. It is the biggest event in the industry; the place where creativity, innovation, and insights collide.

The same as last year, ESOMAR Foundation has dedicated an entire session in the programme. The winners of the first Making a Difference Competition will take to the stage to showcase how the best of research has made a significant difference to Not-For-Profits.

The session will feature:

Martin Kern from Forcier Consulting DR Congo presenting Menstrual Hygiene Management Study in DR Congo. 

Martin started Forcier office in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015, now supervising a team of twenty people in Kinshasa and Kananga. He has recently completed assessments for ICF International, UNICEF, PwC, NORC at the University of Chicago, the Belgian Development Agency, or Catholic Relief Services, and is now leading the company extension in West Africa with the opening of a new office in Mali.


Sema Sgaier from Surgo Foundation with the presentation of the case-study “Reducing child mortality- a provider, a mother, and a powder”.

Dr. Sema Sgaier is co-founder and executive director of Surgo Foundation, a privately funded action tank obsessed with thinking about all people as customers and focused on bringing the latest innovations around behavior, tech, and data to global development. Previously at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she led several large-scale health programs and innovations in India and Africa. She is faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an Affiliate Assistant Professor, Global Health at the University of Washington. Selected as a Rising Talent by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, she is on the board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Alumni network.


Justine Lukas from Kantar Millward Brown Singapore and Rebecca Lim Head of Our Better World – Singapore International Foundation presenting the “Empowering Digital Storytelling for Good” case-study.

Justine is a director in the qualitative team at Kantar, based in the Singapore office. Having spent much of her twenty-year career in the consultancy world in London, she returned to Singapore over four years ago, having lived there for several years in the 1980’s. Justine’s experience spans business and brand strategy, communications, exploratory consumer understanding across continents, countries, and categories and ranges from sitting with people in their homes, digital blogging, creative workshopping – up to facilitating international stakeholder events.


Rebecca heads up Our Better World (OBW), the digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation that leverages the power of stories and digital media for social impact. She leads her team and a regional network of impact storytellers to tell stories of people doing good in Asia. An eternal optimist, she combines her eye for opportunities with her love for people, bringing partners alongside on this journey of pursuing a shared vision of OBW pioneering digital disruption for social impact in Asia. Rebecca’s experience spans strategic communications, integrated marketing, public relations, and brand management. Her experience over the last two decades has been in the sectors of her twin passions – tourism and non-profit.


If you are in Berlin on Tuesday 25.09 make sure you do not miss the EF session. Cannot attend the ESOMAR Congress? You can tune in to watch the live broadcast



We have recently announced the winners of the ESOMAR Foundation “Making a Difference” Competition which highlights and promotes how research has made a real difference to Not-for-Profits.

We have opened a fundraising campaign to support and reward the winners of the Competition, namely, the organizations on the ground who were able to achieve their goal through insightful and robust market research.

Currently, many Not-For-Profits see research only in terms of population-level facts and figures on poverty, sanitation, medicine, education etc. They are mostly unaware of the immense value that great qualitative, ethnographic and new research methodologies can have on improving the effectiveness of their work.

We are therefore proud to reward these three case studies as they have demonstrated that the use of insightful and robust research massively contributes to making a difference for Not-for-Profits in carrying out their programmes!

Help and reward these good causes!

Donate Our Better World


All three organisations decided to turn to market research to ensure their actions would make an impact. They were able to achieve that, and this is excellent news! It demonstrates that a better world can be built with the help and support of market research.

The winning NFP organisations will receive a donation to support their activities on the ground. We are calling for your support in donating to one or all of these good causes.

Surgo Foundation and RGMVP in India

Singapore International Foundation – Our Better World

Catholic Relief Services in Congo

Read more about how they made a difference and who they are Our Better World, Surgo Foundation & RGMVP and Catholic Relief Services!

You can actively increase the overall impact of market research in building a better world!

It’s your opportunity to get involved in ‘Making a Difference’!

Donate RGMVP


Join the ESOMAR Foundation Session

The three case studies will be presented on 25 September at an ESOMAR Foundation session which will be part of the ESOMAR Annual Congress to be held in Berlin on 23-26 September.

For more information contact us at info@esomarfoundation.org

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


Annual Report 2017 is out!

We are pleased to share the Annual Report and Financial Statement 2017 of the ESOMAR Foundation.

In 2017 the Foundation strengthened several activities and enjoyed an increase in awareness and support from the industry and beyond. These developments provide a promising outlook for the future. The Foundation can continue to execute its activities in partnership with the many stakeholders who have provided both financial support and expertise and will hopefully continue to do so in the years to come.

As charity arm of ESOMAR, the global industry association of Market, Social and Opinion research, we have continued to benefit from the ESOMAR Council and the Supervisory Board support. The ESOMAR Foundation is on the right path of executing its mission “to use the skills, knowledge and support of the industry to do social good”.

Results so far are encouraging! With the help of our wonderful industry, we look forward to continuing to grow and achieve even better results in the years to come!

A special Thank You!

Without the generous help and support of the many volunteers, sponsors, friends, ambassadors and partners, the ESOMAR Foundation could not survive! So, we would like to take this opportunity to warmly and sincerely THANK YOU ALL for ensuring that together we can pursue our mission of contributing to a better world.


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.



ESOMAR Foundation Making a Difference Competition 2018 – Winners announced!

At this year’s first ESOMAR Foundation “Making a Difference” Competition we received a large number of entries – all of which of great value and relevance for highlighting and promoting how the best of research has made a significant difference to Not-For-Profits. 

We are particularly happy to announce the winners of the first edition of the ESOMAR Foundation “Making a Difference” Competition.



Most innovative NFP case study

Reducing child mortality- a provider, a mother, and a powder

Sema Sgaier, Surgo Foundation, USA/India

NFP Surgo Foundation

Huge potential impact in India and internationally where diarrhea kills large numbers. This is a really excellent, thorough and innovative and effective piece of research

Best international NFP case study

Empowering Digital Storytelling for Good

Justine Lukas, Kantar Millward Brown, Singapore

NFP Singapore International Foundation – Our Better World

This simple and impactful case study is set for making a tremendous difference across all NFPs globally.

Best local/domestic NFP case study

Menstrual Hygiene Management Study in DRC

Charlotte Antoine, Forcier Consulting, DR Congo

NFP Catholic Relief Services DR Congo

This very important piece of research is something that could make a real difference to half the population.

Each of the three winners will receive a donation for their featured Not-for-Profit and are invited to present their work at a special ‘Making a Difference’ session at this year’s ESOMAR Congress in Berlin on 23-26 September.

A hearty congratulation to all three winners for such a fantastic achievement!


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:

‘Stunting” in Indonesia

Nurhasanah Ayuningtias, Astrid Novianti, Astiti Suhirman, Kantar TNS, Iwan Hasan, IMA World Health, Indonesia

“Malnutrition is a massive issue and this was a very innovative approach and a contender for most innovative”; “Excellent case study – really getting underneath the issues”

Girl-Friendly Toilets Qualitative Insights To The Benefit Of Female Students In Public Secondary Schools In Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Andre Linden, Luxembourg, Simon Patterson, QRi Consulting, UK

“Creative and insightful research and making a meaningful difference to girls there”, “Beautiful simple example of the effectiveness of good qual research”

Women, a key player om economic development

Cristina Paez, Ipsos, Ecuador

“Very good and very effective! An important issue for half the population and rightly topical”

Giving the World’s Children a Voice: A UNICEF Case Study

Benjamin Riondel, Unicef, Switzerland

“A delightful study!”

Critical Thinking Against Populism

Tamila Konoplytska, Inna Volosevych, GfK, Ukraine

“Innovative use of research”

The research on Public Awareness of HIV Epidemic in Ukraine

Tamila Konoplytska, Inna Volosevych, GfK, Ukraine

“This is important research with potential to make a real difference”

Congratulations to all! The ESOMAR Foundation wishes to thank all those who participated to the competition. We will endeavour to promote and highlight the excellent examples which have been showcased– to encourage Not-for-Profit organisations to use more insightful and inventive research for massively increasing the overall impact of market research in building a better world!