Our Expertise

There can be incredible power in branding: it’s that intangible sense of affinity that creates a feeling of belonging, loyalty, and and emotional connection. Yet few brands ever realise their full potential. The success of your brand is ultimately determined by your understanding of who your stakeholders are, what makes them tick, and how you position your offering at every touchpoint based on these insights. Too often organisations forget that a brand promise is a binding contract. Getting all the elements of the mix right is difficult. And keeping it in good shape is an ongoing commitment. Whether it’s a high or low engagement category, having data and insight to back up your strategy and support your growth allows you to stay accountable and relevant to your customers, to your employees and to your potential customers.

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You’ve probably heard about ‘behavioural economics’, which describes the way that insights from psychology have changed our understanding of how people make economic decisions. Through the use of applied psychology, we now know that choices are profoundly shaped by how they are presented and by who presents them to us. We like to think of ourselves as rational beings but, in truth, we’re all influenced more than we like to think by subtle cues, suggestion, our environment and our own internal biases. Very often we don’t even realise we’re making a choice. Whatever your business, if you’re looking to enact behavioural change, then it’s vital to map out the choices that your customers make on their journey, and how they go about making these choices. It all comes down to understanding the biases inherent in all of us, and what can be done to nudge consumers toward a new course of action.

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Businesses and organisations are often concerned with how well they are meeting their customers’ needs or how effective their marketing campaigns are. The answers to these questions are usually not straightforward. Different customers have different needs, demonstrate different behaviours, and react differently to the same product or messaging. Differentiation is everything. Market segmentation analysis allows you to respond to that differentiation. It identifies relevant customer segments that share similar characteristics - be it attitudes, behaviours, demographic or psychographic traits – highlights the important differences between segments and helps estimate the size of each segment. This means you can tailor services, product offerings and marketing campaigns to the specific needs in each segment, and segments prioritised according to business objectives.

We are living in the most measurable period ever in the history of marketing, yet the digitisation of the marketing spectrum has resulted in almost too many metrics to count. It can be a minefield trying to understand what all these metrics mean and which ones really count, and whether any of them really mean that your campaign has been successful. We have created a world where information has become cheap and plentiful but meaning has become rare and precious. It is vital to understand the effectiveness and the efficiency of what you say and where you say it – not just in isolation, but how the two work together to deliver results.

Has your policy initiative worked? Did it reach the people you wanted? Did it have the impact you were expecting? Who benefited the most and how long did those benefits last? Evaluation is all about answering questions like these. Research First has a depth of expertise in social and evaluation research and the alignment of social and economic policy with commercial and social outcomes. We have a core competency in community engagement and are well-versed in conducting research among diverse sectors of New Zealand society, including Māori, Pasifika, Asian, youth and gender diverse communities to inform policy development in line with stakeholder needs. We also have a well-developed understanding of the machinations of government and the practicalities of working at a Ministerial and Ministry level, when required, ensuring the needs of both are met in a timely and considered manner.

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The world of not-for-profit and social responsibility is complex and often not what it seems. As a country, we have more more charities per capita than any other country in the world, all vying for a slice of the corporate, public and individual purse. Kiwis are also super generous – they know how to dig deep and they hate to see others in need. Understanding what motivates New Zealanders to support a charity – philosophically and financially – is key to developing successful donor campaigns and allows organisations to ride the peaks and troughs of goodwill. At the beginning of 2018 we launched a study into New Zealanders’ perceptions of charities within the New Zealand market to better understand where New Zealanders place their ‘For Good’ vote and why. The findings were somewhat surprising, so we’ve committed  to the study for another year to track ongoing shifts. If you’re in the charity sector, and would like to know if you’re viewed as you think you are, then you might like to give us a call.

It is often said, employees are an organisation’s greatest asset. What is not so well understood, however, is the importance of an engaged employee to both brand reputation and customer experience. If you want to deliver a better customer experience, or bolster your corporate reputation, understanding your employee experience is an often overlooked but necessary step. Research First’s Employee Experience model has been specifically developed to unravel what’s going on inside organisations. It provides a scientifically tested way to track the extent to which employees both understand and buy into the organisational vision, and share perceptions of work practices within units in support of that vision. With this insight, road blocks can be mitigated and strengths can be leveraged for the ultimate benefit of the organisation, those who work for it and those who engage with it.

As your partner, part of our job is selecting the best research tools to garner the insights that matter the most. Given there are over a hundred research methods to choose from, matching one (or more) to your needs is an essential step in delivering insights that make a difference. Sometimes this is a commonly understood approach such as a telephone survey or focus groups, and sometimes it  means using an ethnographic approach or a complex discrete choice experiment. Our philosophy is simple, we believe there is no best approach to doing research. Instead, what you need is a tailored solution that chooses the right methods based on what you want to know and who you need to know it from. Sometimes this means you’ll need a large mixed-method design, and at others you’ll need a clever twist on a simple approach. At Research First, we never like to settle for a good research design where a great one is possible. And that’s why we’re known for providing the most innovative and responsive designs in the market.

Too often, organisations make the mistake of not checking in with their stakeholders to ensure they’re on the same page; or even worse, failing to understand who their stakeholders actually are. Decisions made in isolation of this understanding can, and do, backfire. Understanding your stakeholders – who they actually are, what they actually think, and the level of influence each actually exerts – allows you to manage their views and expectations in a manner that supports your ultimate objectives and aligns support from all quarters – even the most challenging.

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