Pursuant Offers Market Researchers Inside Scoop on Conducting Research with Tweens, Younger Children

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DC firm's researchers publish expert advice in the June 2005, MRA, Alert! Magazine.

Pursuant, Inc.'s President, Melissa Marcello, and Research Analyst, Antonee Stern call upon their combined experience conducting qualitative research with children to provide market research practitioners practical advice on how to maximize their results from focus groups and in-depth interviews with tweens and younger children in the June 2005, Alert! Magazine, published by the Marketing Research Association, which is headquartered in Rocky Hill, CT.

In their article, Marcello and Stern are quick to point out that while today's children and tweens are more sophisticated in terms of their tastes and preferences than the youth of yesteryear, this does not mean that market researchers should approach them in the same way they would adults. Rather, special steps should be taken to ensure that robust information is acquired from the youth market.

For example, when recruiting tweens or younger children for a focus group or in-depth-interview, the authors recommend that parents be asked screening questions to ensure that the subject matter is relevant (i.e. the child has knowledge of the subject matter), that children are vocal, that they can take direction, are able to sit for prolonged periods of time, and to weed out children with any serious behavioral challenges. Marcello and Stern also believe that non-traditional activities should be incorporated into the groups and interviews to stimulate children's creativity and keep them engaged.

"Toni Stern and I have found non-traditional approaches to product and concept development research, such as having an illustrator participate in our creative discovery focus groups, and work interactively with tweens and younger children to respond to their preferences in real-time, to be extremely successful. The kids love seeing their ideas come to life, and are able to give extremely concrete and valuable feedback to the agency teams," said Melissa Marcello, President, Pursuant, Inc.

Pursuant's researchers also have found the "downtime" in a focus group or in-depth interview—that is, the snack breaks, free play and stretch time—to be valuable opportunities to gather more candid perspectives from younger children and tweens. While these downtime activities are often designed to offer a break for the children from complex research tasks, they provide researchers with time to observe the youth interacting with one another more naturally, and to talk with tweens and children about things that interest them, rather than direct the conversation. For many Pursuant clients, some of the best, and most surprising ideas, have come out of research downtime.

"My academic training as a psychologist, and Melissa Marcello's training as a sociologist, has provided us with a unique perspective on conducting qualitative research with children. We strive to conduct research in as natural a setting as possible, with activities specifically designed to promote tweens and younger children's creativity and to elicit uncontrived responses," said Antonee Stern.    

For its growing list of national clients – some of the top names in health care, agriculture, technology, philanthropy, financial services, and education – Pursuant provides qualitative and quantitative research-based solutions. Clients such as Kaiser Permanente, Crosby Marketing Communications, Dairy Management, Inc., Adventist HealthCare, Action for Healthy Kids, and the American Dietetic Association Foundation, already recognize the value of Pursuant's work. In October of 2004, Pursuant was awarded a GSA contract, under the Advertising and Integrated Marketing solutions (AIMS) schedule. The GSA contract allows Pursuant to provide focus groups, telephone and Internet surveys to federal agencies.

Marcello established Pursuant in Washington, DC in February 2002, and is an entrepreneurial social scientist whose background spans from academic researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to Vice President of SWR Worldwide – a public opinion research firm owned by Weber Shandwick. Marcello also currently serves as an adjunct instructor for the Communication, Culture, Technology (CCT) program at Georgetown University, where she teaches a course on public opinion and propaganda.

For more information about Pursuant, please e-mail info@pursuantresearch.com, or call Antonee Stern at 202.887.0070, ext.10.

Government agencies interested in learning more about the services Pursuant provides via the AIMS schedule, please refer to Pursuant's catalog information listed in GSA Advantage at http://www.gsaadvantage.gov. (Contractor #: GS-23F-0444P)

Pursuant, Inc.

2141 P Street NW

Suite 105

Washington, D.C. 20037

TEL: 202.887.0070

FAX: 800.567.1723


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