The Case Studies provide a few examples of QSA studies that made a difference.
QSA conducted a series of market studies for WMATA over a ten-year period of rapid and sustained growth in bus and rail ridership. All of this research involved relatively large-scale surveys, and most involved sophisticated survey analysis.
Conjoint analysis was used to identify market segments that represent new targets of opportunity for WMATA; causal attitude modeling was used to identify the advertising messages that are most likely to influence members of these groups to use transit; and conjoint analysis was used to guide the development and pricing of new services. “The research results have been used time and time again in development of advertising and marketing campaigns, in fine tuning service planning options and in planning for future markets. Although there has been no formal evaluation, we are so confident in the research that it has guided our decisions,” said Donna Murray, of WMATA
QSA was retained by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to conduct a customer satisfaction study for the Federal Highway Administration. In this case, customers were defined as anyone who uses the nation’s roadways. QSA designed and conducted two large-scale national surveys of customers, defined as anyone who uses the nation’s roadways. The study showed growing dissatisfaction among residents of certain urban areas where traffic congestion is a major problem. QSA found that this dissatisfaction was strongly linked to delays experienced because of roadwork, accidents and general traffic congestion.
This research helped FHWA to focus its efforts in the areas that would have the greatest impact on traveler satisfaction. These included using intelligent transportation systems and other innovations to improve traffic flow, providing information to travelers so they can avoid congested roadways, using more efficient methods for roadwork so that it can be completed faster, and clearing accidents more quickly.
QSA conducted a series of eight major surveys measuring all types of media use among high-level leaders in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. The studies were carried out by telephone so that we could be sure that we were obtaining information directly from leaders and not from junior staff or interns.
Because the studies covered all types of media, the studies were an important resource for advertisers and other communicators who wanted to reach members of Congress and high-level federal executives. QSA’s CEO made numerous presentations of the study throughout the nation.
The Association for Corporate Counsel (ACC) is an association of lawyers who work in corporate legal departments. ACC had traditionally bundled all of its services into its membership dues. QSA was retained to help ACC explore the possibility of unbundled certain services to generate non-dues revenue.
QSA carried out an online survey with members that included Conjoint Analysis and a shopping-cart style bundling analysis to reveal (1) the value of each service if priced separately and (2) the services that were essential for members to join and renew membership in the organization.
The survey results gave ACC very specific direction about which services should be included in the dues package and which could safely be unbundled so that they could generate non-dues revenue. The Board of Directors voted to adopt QSA’s recommendations immediately after they were presented at the annual meeting.
QSA provided guidance to Great Financial Bank as it developed new products and a new identity and image that increased the value of its stock fourfold.
The Great Financial Bank (then the Bank of Louisville) was finding it hard to compete with larger banks that were moving into the Louisville, Kentucky area. The bank was considered old fashioned and its customer base was rapidly aging. The bank’s management was hoping to reboot the bank’s image, build its customer base and, then, sell it to one of the larger banks.
QSA conducted a series of focus groups with customers and non-customers that had recently opened new accounts at other banks to reveal their decision-making process. Then, QSA conducted a customer/noncustomer survey of the Louisville market. This survey included a segmentation of customers and noncustomers according to their use of banking products and profit potential that was used to guide the development of new products. Predictive modeling was used to develop a communications platform for advertising to the most promising segments.
Bank President Tim Evans described the results: “The research was extensive and thorough and I documented that it saved us hundreds of thousands on accurate implementation of advertising design and product development image and identity development. It also helped us to reposition a new identity for the bank and a new image for the name change. The bank also changed its charter at the same time and converted to stock with an initial offering price of $10 per share. Two and half years later the bank sold for $42 a share! The only major changes that took place during this time were marketing initiatives related to the new image, identity, product development, and advertising. Every decision we made over the 2.5 year period was directed out of the research QSA developed and implemented.”
QSA created a targetable segmentation of Hispanics in 13 major markets for AARP based on media behavior, geography, English and Spanish language proficiency and degree of acculturation. Then, we analyzed each segment to identify the products that would appeal to them most and the message themes that best predicted intent to join or renew membership. The analysis showed that the segments exhibit essentially the same behavior across markets, although some segments are much more prevalent in some markets than others. This vastly simplifies the AARP marketing communication task, since they can develop products/services and messages for each of the four segments rather than for each of the 13 markets.
AARP offers its members many different products and programs to Americans age 50 or older, but advertising messages can effectively convey information about a few of these offerings at a time. The Hispanic market presents a special challenge because of its diversity in both national origin and degree of acculturation to U.S. language and culture.
QSA conducted more than 4,000 telephone interviews with Hispanics in 13 U.S. markets. QSA used NeuroClustersm, its proprietary, high-resolution segmentation technique to identify four targetable segments, based on media use, language dominance and within-market geography. QSA then conducted a predictive modeling (Communication Architecturesm) analysis of each segment to identify the AARP offerings and benefits that would do the most to persuade nonmembers to join AARP and current members to renew their memberships.
QSA was able to provide AARP with detailed recommendations for each segment, including suggested copy platforms, in each of the 13 markets. The analysis showed that the segments exhibit essentially the same behavior across markets, although some segments are much more prevalent in some markets than others. This vastly simplifies the AARP marketing communication task, since they can develop messages for each of the four segments rather than for each of the 13 markets.
This study, which was carried out on four continents among medical professionals and administrators, not only helped Siemens develop a new generation of ultrasound systems, but also assessed the dollar value of its brand equity against its competitors, provided guidance for a very successful messaging and targeting strategy, and influenced the decision to acquire another ultrasound company.
The study was conducted in China, Germany, Brazil and the United States using hour-long in-person interviews with hospital administrations and radiologists, cardiologists, and other physicians who use and/or make decisions about the purchase of ultrasound systems. Then, QSA used Dollar-Calibrated Conjoint Analysis to determine the value of different ultrasound features. These values were expressed in both conjoint utility scores and U.S. dollar conversions. QSA also provided a simulator so that Siemens staff could test different scenarios among different market segments in different countries.
QSA also measured the brand equity of Siemens and its competitors and used Communications Architecturesm to develop communication platforms for each segment and country. QSA’s CEO worked closely with marketing communication staff and Siemens’ advertising and public relations agencies to devise a marketing communication plan that included specific recommendations for messaging and targeting, as well as overall brand positioning. She then made an executive level presentation with recommendations to the highest levels of divisional and corporate management, which included a marketing plan developed by Siemens’ advertising and public relations agencies in collaboration with QSA.
The R&D group made substantial changes to the configuration of the new ultrasound system, and Siemens acquired a company that the study showed had extraordinarily high brand equity in the United States. Since that time, Siemens Ultrasound has continued to grow its revenue and market share both in the United States and worldwide. Siemens wrote a thank you letter to QSA that noted “the results of the survey would have been meaningless without your in-depth analysis…(the study) will help us build our future generation of products and market ourselves effectively.”
Using in-depth preliminary research, survey research and advanced analytics, QSA provided the Siemens Ultrasound marketing team with branding and messaging strategy that produced measurable improvements in its visibility and brand image and contributed to increased sales and market share.
Although the firm had superior technology and was long-established and well-respected in Europe and many other countries, Siemens Ultrasound was a recent entrant to the U.S. market and did not have a strong reputation in U.S. ultrasound circles. Because Siemens enjoyed a strong reputation abroad, U.S. marketing operations received little support. As a result, sales encountered invisible barriers when they called on prospects. Despite their superior technology, they often found themselves “winning the presentation but losing the sale.”
Stage 1. After auditing Siemens promotional materials, conducting in-depth personal interviews with Siemens’ executives and meeting with its key marketing staff and advertising/public relations agencies, QSA conducted a corporate image, branding, and positioning study among physicians and hospital administrators in the United States who were directly involved in the purchase of high-end ultrasound systems. QSA used predictive modeling (Communications Architecturesm) to identify the direct and indirect drivers of reputation of both Siemens Ultrasound and its major competitors. The results identified the messages that Siemens needed to deliver to specific audiences in order to improve both its visibility and its competitive position.
Stage 2. Becky Quarles and key staff in Siemens’ advertising and public relations agencies jointly presented the research findings and the recommended advertising and public relations strategies to the top executives of Siemens Corporate and Siemens Ultrasound. As a result, advertising and public relations budgeted were increased and the research-based campaign was launched.
A follow-up study carried out about a year later showed that the communication strategies had a large positive impact on perceptions of and attitudes toward Siemens Ultrasound and its products in the U.S. Subsequently, Siemens made large gains in both revenues and market share in the U.S.
QSA, in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago, conducted segmentation research that guided targeting and messaging for Covered California’s highly successful advertising and non-advertising outreach campaign for the Covered California, which administered the Affordable Care Act in the State. Covered California enrolled more than 1.2 million consumers in private health insurance plans, far exceeding its original goal, making it one of the most successful state exchanges.
NORC at the University of Chicago, one of most prestigious research centers in the U.S., was selected to conduct the research to guide the outreach program for the October 2013 launch of Covered California. NORC subcontracted with QSA to assist in the development of a complex market segmentation for the California Consumer Baseline Segmentation Study.
As part of the segmentation, QSA used NeuroClustersm to analyze more than 200 different variables reflecting reasons for being uninsured; orientations toward health, risk, planning, personal finances, and health insurance; financial situations; and demographics. This analysis resulted in seven segments of uninsured California with very different needs, priorities and life situations. QSA then worked with NORC Senior Fellow Larry L. Bye to develop recommendations for targeting and messaging for Covered California’s advertising and outreach campaign.
A 2014 survey by the Commonwealth Fund shows that the percentage of Californians without health insurance was cut in half during the Covered California’s open enrollment period (from 22% to 11%). By contrast, the U.S. uninsured rate dropped just 25 percent (from 20% to 15%). The Washington Post recently named California as the “best state in America” for its successful rollout of the ACA. More than 2.5 million people signed up for coverage during the first six months of open enrollment; and more than 42 percent of those eligible to sign up, did so. Even though California expanded Medicaid coverage, it was one of only six states to grow their private insurance rolls more than their Medicaid coverage.”