5 Questions with Sean Case

5 Questions with Sean Case


The human element is core to Research For Good. Beyond enabling their understanding and reaching audiences, this year, we’re extending this to connect with our peers across the Market Research community.

Over the next few months, we’re sitting down with some MR industry leaders to ask five key questions to discuss emerging trends, innovation, leadership, and more. To kick things off, we started with Sean Case, Co-Founder of RFG, to reflect on the highs and lows of 2020 and what’s to come in 2021.

Check it out below!

What’s the biggest lesson you took from 2020 that you think everyone in the industry needs to know?

2020 taught us so many lessons. I think the key things I learned were:

1) Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Way too many companies were not prepared for the kind of historic downturn in business that we saw, and it hurt our industry and our industry professionals.  

2) The old adage: If something can go wrong, it will, and everything can go wrong.

3) In a crisis, you can choose to survive, or you can choose to thrive. We took on the thrive mentality, which helped us stay positive, focused, and remain innovative.

What was your professional high from 2020?

First and foremost, we made it a priority and a goal to preserve everyone’s jobs within our org, with no lay-offs. I am happy to say that we accomplished this, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team for working hard to make this happen. As a business, our goal for 2020, before the pandemic started, was to launch our Enterprise MR Platform “DataForce.” While it was delayed due to the pandemic, we were still able to launch the platform, and many customers have been impressed by what it has to offer. That’s 2 highs, not one. Sorry!

What excites you about Market Research for 2021?

If this pandemic has taught us anything, MR has been behind in innovation and technology adoption. I think 2020 was the kick in the ass that we needed to start moving rapidly in this direction, and I think we will come out of 2021 way ahead of where we would have if we maintained the status quo.

What’s in the pipeline for RFG in the next 12 months?

We are laser-focused on developing Dataforce, and onboarding our first few clients. We are also continuing to develop a roadmap for the platform based on customer feedback. We are excited to begin enabling our customers to build new products, become uber-efficient, and realize the cost benefits of a model day MR platform.

Any closing thoughts?

As a closing thought, I want to thank our partners, customers, and employees for what turned out to be an amazing year in 2020. With everything stacked against us and our industry, we all managed to work together to build and launch something cool. Whether you are an MR Professional and Entrepreneur, a buyer or supplier, an Intern, or a CEO – don’t ever take this industry, your peers, or your partners for granted. In the best of times, they can help you thrive – and in the worst of times, they can help you accomplish the impossible.

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How have the events of 2020 impacted Market Research?

How have the events of 2020 impacted Market Research?

It is that time of year again where we reflect on the last 12 months and look forward to the 12 ahead. While we could not have predicted the direction of 2020, the year’s events have certainly left their mark on the Market Research industry. With our workforces adapting to changes that we never anticipated, introducing new methods and ramping up operations (or unfortunately slowing down), we successfully made it to the end of the year with lessons and knowledge to take into the year ahead.

If we’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that we have so much to learn from each other, and we all do better when we collaborate. With that said, we asked our friends from the MR community to join us in sharing their thoughts on 2020 and hopes for 2021. Check them out below: 

How do you think things in MR will change as a result of 2020’s events and what are you looking forward to in 2021? 

Brin Moore – Partner, TrustedTalent

2021 in many ways will be a build year. The reality is that by and large companies, specifically, the people that make up companies rallied in uncharted, choppy waters in 2020. Some businesses had to change altogether, others pivoted. As we lean into the new year, there is a sense of hope and commitment to continue on the mission.

As it relates to talent, it has been a very mixed bag. Layoffs came in the Spring of 2020, and would expect we will see some in early 2021. We have seen placements – at all levels – pick up, and would expect as plans for 2021 are approved, this will continue.

Meetings are now called “zooms” whether it happened on zoom or not. The way we work has changed and this is an opportunity for talent. People at every level have proven they can be efficient, effective and maintain company culture by working remotely. Business win with having the right talent and employees win as they are able to contribute to businesses that need and appreciate them. 

Also, would expect to see exciting new MR capabilities emerge which means for opportunities – 2021 has the makings of an exciting year.

Kerry Edelstein – President and Founder, Research Narrative

One market research outcome that I see continuing into 2021 is a major floodgate on online qualitative work – clients have grown more comfortable with digital-based research methods after becoming reliant on them this past year, and I believe a high degree of that reliance will “stick.” Virtual sessions have really been a tremendous asset to companies, as they provide the depth of insight we seek from qualitative research, yet also come with a series of incremental benefits – no overhead cost for travel, more scheduling flexibility, cross-regional representation, and the ability to invite more internal clients to watch live. Likewise, remote presentations, conferences that can really be webinars (e.g. not networking focused), and remote working will stay more common, even when in-person returns. Because now we see that all of this is working. The hurdle in the past was a fear that operationally, these virtual alternatives would fall short of expectation. 2020 ended up being an accidental trial run in virtual operations, and it wasn’t nearly as destructive to business operations as everyone feared! If anything, we’ve actually seen an increase in productivity and a sense of camaraderie as people get creative with Zoom backgrounds and share their personal lives with colleagues. I anticipate that a lot of the changes that were initially temporary will ultimately become a more permanent reshaping of the workplace. 

Kristi Zuhlke – CEO & Founder, KnowledgeHound

Pattern recognition over time will be critical as the industry tracks how consumers behaved prior to, during, and after the pandemic.  The industry will need to evolve to better automate the tracking overtime and connection across data sets that weren’t necessarily designed to be connected.  

2021 will bring a refreshed energy as the world starts opening back up.  Humans will appreciate the events that will be able to take place in person and doing simple meetings in person again.  Where we once took for granted we will now find joy.

Lilah Raynor (Koski) – CEO, Logica Research 

We all know what an unprecedented year this has been. So unprecedented that it has its own word used to describe it.  This word has come to connote so many different things: difficult, surprising, confusing, unimaginable….  It’s in sharp contrast to expectations of the year when we first started it.  Going into the year, I thought “2020” has such a nice round number sound to it.  The numbers, when you say them, sound elegant and a bit grand. 

This year has not had that elegant and grand sound, feel, or ring to it at all.  And while this year has been unimaginably hard for so many people and in so many ways, it brought with it a groundswell, a momentum, of a large number of unprecedented behaviors and changes, including some of which are good.  I have seen more creativity, collaboration, and community-mindedness than ever before—in market research and beyond. 

We have seen more creativity and accelerated change in market research than I’ve seen in 25 years in the industry.  The biggest changes I saw in 2020 that I think will be here to stay are:

  1.     An accelerated adoption to digital qualitative research.  We will continue to have in-person qualitative but the reasons we have it will be more selective, and there will be greater adoption of digital qualitative research.
  2.     There will be an increased pressure on sample quality and that will lead to better insights.
  3.     There will be a long overdue increase in diverse perspectives in research that support and drive more inclusive branding, communications, and product development that help improve people’s lives.

What I am really looking forward in 2021 is:

  1.     This accelerated pace of change in the industry and adoption of new behaviors.
  2.     Being able to bring diverse voices and perspectives to the work we do for clients.
  3.     Collaborating with clients, my team, and industry partners to do creative, fantastic research that will drive growth and change.

Rebecca Brooks – Founder & CEO, Alter Agents

After a tumultuous year full of change, our research shows consumers are paying more attention to how brands are impacting their communities and livelihoods. Brands can no longer sit on the sidelines of our social and political conversations. Even if they don’t actively join in the fray, consumers will expect corporations to have clear values and uphold them throughout all aspects of their business. As researchers, we need to focus more on consumer values, perceptions of brand values, and how to help our clients navigate and succeed in this more scrutinized world. 

In 2021, I’m looking forward to building a better future for my business, my clients, my family, and community. We’ve learned a lot about what not to do and about the fragility of many of our systems in 2020. Now we have to put that knowledge to work.

Susie Ribnik – President & Co-Founder, Ribnik Research 

Well, the events of 2020 have been a bit mind-blowing and sometimes mind-numbing – so many challenges, so many struggles but also so many successes!

While much work was stopped in April, May, and June with the impact of Covid, many companies realized that they needed the knowledge the market research brings to navigate this changing/new world.  So requests for projects started to flow in for many research agencies, including my small boutique firm.  To deal with the need to interview people but avoid human contact more virtual techniques and platforms have become available and embraced.  Qualitative work has “zoom”ed ahead and become important.  Quantitative work will continue to include a measure of the effect of Covid, comparisons to the past, best guesses as to what the future holds.

I’m personally looking forward to 2021 allowing in-person research to resume, though it may not be possible until the latter part of the year.  And we will all be measuring the impact of the pandemic, watching how trends and activities change, trying to determine what the new “normal” will be, and providing important info for our clients so they can meet the consumers’ needs and appetites.

Ted Kendall – Founder, TripleScoop Premium Market Research

As a small research shop, 2020 has certainly left some bruises, and there have been days where I felt like the Black Knight, down three limbs but screaming, “just a flesh wound!”

In 2021, I expect to see continued squeezing of the independent researcher as costs of sampling and platforms will continue to go up and clients continue to demand more for less. And the need for insights will increase, as risks of making bad decisions goes up in a post-pandemic world.

I know, that just sounds bleak.

But, we researchers are thinkers and doers. The silver lining of 2020 is that it allowed many of us to slow down and do some deep thinking. This pause in demand has resulted in some great advances in platform capabilities, text analysis, adaptation of qualitative methods, and sampling quality initiatives. These will serve as a springboard to launch into 2021 better equipped to meet increased needs for stronger insights. I believe we may one day look back at 2020 as the year that research shifted on a grand scale to more choices in unearthing insights.

One thing is apparent from those to whom we posed our question; 2021 will be a prosperous and exciting year. For many of us, 2020 has propelled us into a new way of thinking that gets us closer to our goals or has given us new longer-term visions. As a continually evolving space, RFG’s DataForce can help support and prepare your organization’s growth for tomorrow. Interested to learn more? We’d love to schedule a demo! Say Hi or find out more about DataForce Connect, Community, and Collect here. 

US Presidential Election Voting Habits

US Presidential Election Voting Habits

The events of 2020 have changed how we think, act, and carry out our everyday lives, from daily routines, right down to our values. So now, as voters gear up to put their thoughts to paper in less than four weeks for the US Presidential Election, we wanted to find out if this year’s monumental moments have impacted their voting habits and if so, how. 

For our latest mini-study, we asked a sample of 1261 US respondents the following three questions:  

  1. Are you planning to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election? 
  2. Has any of the given options majorly influenced your decision when voting in the upcoming 2020 presidential election? 
  3. How have events from 2020 (for example COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter) changed your voting habits this year?

For example, of the 1261 respondents asked, “Are you planning to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election?” we found that 85.9% are intending to vote. Learn how males vs females compare in their voting attitudes this year, by downloading the full report below. 

Did you know that RFG has no project minimum fees and an experienced PM team standing by that can push your projects live in under 2 hours? Get in touch below to request a quote for immediate project support.

US Presidential Election:

How have 2020 events shaped voting habits?

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    Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

    Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

    What started as a temporary move to working from home has become the catalyst for distributed workforces. 

    As the leadership team of a company that has been remote and globally distributed for more than 8 years, we have thought a lot about optimizing a situation that is new-ish for many. We’ve been where you are. At first, it feels easy, sustainable, better! Then, the novelty wears off. But there are things you can do now to ensure a distributed or hybrid workforce works for your organization long-term.

    1. Welcome to a more limitless candidate pool for hiring – choose wisely!

    One of the greatest opportunities for a non-location based company is the broader and more diverse talent pool you can tap into. You can find the best talent and the most capable candidate regardless of location. Use this opportunity to expand your horizons, be intentional about adding diversity to your team. It’s proven that more diverse teams have better outcomes

    New hires need to fit your new remote work culture. More than ever they need to be self-reliant and self-advocates. Have a plan for socializing them throughout the company and facilitating training that involves inter-team collaboration

    2. Embrace asynchronous communication.

    For most companies, a move to working from home will often mean that traditional 9-to-5 working schedules become less rigid. With current school closures and additional caretaker responsibilities at home, shifting working hours has become imperative to support employees. The result is asynchronous communication. This blog post does a great job explaining asynchronous communication and the many benefits. How we Communicate at Automattic

    My quick tips: 

    1. Be thoughtful about the tools you use to communicate (hint – it’s not email)
    2. Setting clear expectations reduces anxiety and empowers your team to prioritize. 

    Initially, you might fear things will move slower. However, when you consider that other team members can keep the ball rolling while you’re busy (and vice versa) your time has suddenly expanded exponentially. 

    3. Document and maintain.

    Make sure that your company policies, resources, best practices, and expectations are well documented, kept current, and easily accessible.

    “Documentation will not only aid in informing team members when they are working asynchronously; it will also create a public archive for future hires and organizational assessments.” – Jason Wingard, Forbes Contributor (Link

    Likely, your policies need a thorough review if this shift has been new for you – and I’m not just talking about your employee handbook.

    4. Connect Intentionally.

    To a business leader driving the bottom line, casual connections may seem superfluous. However, a sense of connection (to the team, company values, etc) is so important for long term success. 

    At first, you can get by with the residual community built up by being in person. But with turnover, growth, and simply the passage of time, connectedness can wane. 

    Build communication channels and events to facilitate this type of interaction from distributed locations. 

        1. Be diligent about recurring 1-1s with direct reports. Consider using this opportunity to flatten your organization and connect with those who are on the front-lines as well. 
        2. Be even more communicative about the company’s vision, mission, goals, successes, and failures, opportunities, etc. Transparency builds loyalty and a culture of open communication.
        3. Create space for non-work related conversations. Our twice-weekly 30-minute “coffee chats” via Zoom successfully helped our team connect as people.  Playing online games or trivia are a great way to let loose and facilitate teamwork. Create channels in your instant messaging platform for casual conversations or sharing of funny cat videos. Actively encourage participation.

    5. The technology you use to facilitate business processes matters more now.

    The technology platforms you use to facilitate the work is the glue that holds your organization together. Common challenges include:

        1. Platform overload – The typical mid-market company uses 185 different apps – according to the 2020 Saas Trends report. That is lot to manage and rife with room for information to fall through the cracks. 
        2. Data Silos: With all those different tools, platforms, spreadsheets and communication tools, your company data is in lots of different places, but not together. 
        3. Manual Processes: How does your sales team transfer projects to operations? Who gets information to finance for billing? Is that a manual process at risk for errors and omissions?For these reasons and more, we built an internal platform that would manage our globally distributed team and integrate communications and consolidate data. It services hundreds of clients, automates a vast sample sourcing ecosystem and optimizes delivery on thousands of projects per day. 

          The results have been significant. We’ve scaled our operation, delivering for more clients, faster, without the expense of adding headcount. Due to the flexibility of the system, architected on a microservices infrastructure, we are prepared and ready for future changes and can remain nimble as we grow. If you’re contemplating the buy vs. build decision for bringing additional technology into your research tech stack, talk to us first.

          We’ve been there, we’ve built, and our flexible DataForce platform modules are being used by other industry businesses to add flexibility, innovation, and scale to their own teams and products.

          We’re not in the new normal yet, we won’t be for a while. As researchers, we’re in the privileged position of shaping that new normal in so many ways. Our goal at Research For Good is to enable human understanding so we can reach a better new normal. 

    Want to find out how DataForce can enable an engaged, and efficient distributed team?

    COVID-19 Collaboration

    COVID-19 Collaboration

    COVID-19 has taken us in different directions than we ever would have anticipated, and for a significant amount, that includes their employment status. The reality has resulted in most of us seeing first-hand friends’ or family’s jobs become a casualty to the pandemic both outside and within the MR space. So, to highlight the skills and expertise of those who found themselves out of work, RFG made a call-out to the industry last month. 

    As part of a collaboration project, we sought to partner with researchers to create a report of their choice, on the impacts of COVID-19. Powered by our modular data acquisition platform, DataForce, and with the ability to collect the data with ease and speed through RFG’s on-demand sample tool, we supplied 1,000 U.S. respondents to facilitate their studies on: 

    Joining RFG’s Co-Founder and COO, Baillie Buchanan, each of our partners, Aman Khalid, Javier Vesga, and Viraj Joshi, gave a quick introduction to their study and a summary of their findings that you can watch below, alongside their full report with key takeaways and recommendations going forward. 

    Want to learn more about DataForce, or RFG's global reach?

    A Force for Human Understanding

    A Force for Human Understanding

    Do you understand the new consumer today? Can you predict what humans will do, value, think, say, demand, and fight for tomorrow?

    We’re in the new now. We’ve collectively agreed that we’re not going back. We’re also not in the new-normal yet. Nothing is normal yet. A recession is here. Businesses may be opening, but their customers have not yet fully formed their new expectations. So much change, catalyzed in such a singular point in time, will take time (and data) to fully understand. 

    That’s why, even amongst all the current chaos and uncertainty, we know it is the right time to bring our DataForce platform to market. To foster growth, innovation, understanding, compassion, empathy, diversity, and unity. Brands and those who support them through research need insights and data to form their go-forward decisions. 

    We know that data collection today is fraught. Systems and processes are opaque, leading to a lack of trust and misunderstanding. Tools are built on outdated technology making them cumbersome, manual, and inflexible. Data quality, costs, and consumer participation are unstable. At Research For Good, we see these issues, and we are driven to solve them. We envision a future where human understanding is integrated, harmonious, infinitely scalable, and holistic.

    To get there, we built DataForce, a modular research ecosystem. DataForce Connect, DataForce Collect, and DataForce Community provide global businesses with an infinitely scalable, integrated suite of data platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). Used alone or together, each drives drive efficiency, flexibility, and the ability to innovate at a rate outpacing today’s development cycles. PaaS structure empowers agencies to build the research methodologies and products that brands are asking for. Our platform takes care of the back-end infrastructure and provides the API-driven flexibility and customization to build innovative and agile research products on top, without the technical overhead of starting from scratch.

    Our purpose-built system has modules to support active & passive data collection (DataForce Collect), online communities & panels (DataForce Community), and the data fieldwork process from bid to billing (DataForce Connect). We enable today’s research and insights professionals to bring their ResearchTech stacks into the new, now. 

    To be clear, we do not know what the answers are or what the future holds. What we do know is that we want to be part of the solution in improving our collective path forward, by enabling human understanding through technology. DataForce is future-forward and intelligently architected to empower insights professionals to do their very best work. In doing so, we can help businesses, leaders, and brands understand people better than ever before, and shape for all of us a better future. 

    Want to find out how DataForce can enable your future goals?