KS&R Blogs


My 11-year-old daughter recently purchased (with her own money) a paint-by-number set. It was a fairly complex illustration of a golden retriever (who happened to look just like our dog Gracie). There were 10 different paint colors; each assigned its own special number. It was hard to tell at the start exactly what the end result might look like.

In many ways, this paint-by-number set reminds me of landscaping research. Even though you have a blueprint in place, you rarely know exactly what the final picture looks like until you finish painting all the numbers.

Recently, one of our major clients came to me with a landscaping challenge. She wanted to understand how the U.S. retail market-space was being impacted by online purchases. She knew internet purchases were on the rise, but did not understand how brick-and-mortar retailers would co-exist with their online counterparts. Moreover, she did not know how traditional retailers would fair against new competitors in the internet retailing space, like Amazon.com and eBay.

We started by identifying learning needs to define the landscape:

  • Retailers considered (brick-and-mortar vs. internet),
  • Categories shopped,
  • Items purchased,
  • Amount spent,
  • Level of engagement with the retailer, and
  • Perceptions of the retailer.

We then crafted a survey for capturing the information needed (in much the same way my daughter's initial diagram provided her with a blueprint for creating the painting).

You might think that creating the survey is the hardest part of a landscaping project. It isn't even close!

Our greatest challenge is actually executing the survey correctly. Much like my daughter has to paint within the lines (or the colors run all over the place), landscaping research also requires you to "paint within the lines" by ensuring appropriate representation of the market tested - in this case, the U.S. population.

Ensuring market representation is much easier said than done - particularly when you are working with thousands of respondents and using nested Census-based quotas to keep ethnic, age, gender, income and region quotas in-line with the U.S. population overall. There is no easy way to make this happen; it requires much due diligence and attention to detail. Fortunately, this is an area where KS&R excels!

Once the results were in, we were able to finalize a portrait of the market itself - how our client's retail brand/value proposition performs vis-a-vis the competition, which categories are strong and weak, and where/how internet retailing is likely to impact the business moving forward. We delivered the results with certainty because we had taken the time to do it right (painting within the lines to ensure appropriate representation).

At the end of this project, our client felt we had created a valuable tool that her business team would use over the next 2-3 years as foundational learning for building strategies and moving the business forward. It was a masterpiece (just like my daughter's picture)!

Jay Scott

Jay Scott

Jay answers the tough questions. He believes better information leads to better understanding, and his clients come back because they trust him to get it right. He is an innovator, looking for new ways to expand the research toolbox, whether by technology or methodology. With a broad understanding of qualitative, quantitative and design techniques, Jay is passionate about identifying business opportunities, creating new products and services, and bringing them to market. This dates back nearly 30 years when he led research that extended the product mix for key CPG brands. The lessons learned are now applied more frequently in B2B situations, including answering tough questions in e-commerce, global transportation, supply chain and logistics. Jay holds a Master's of Marketing Research (MMR) from the University of Georgia. When not at work, you can often find Jay watching his daughter's soccer games or sneaking out of town to catch the Atlanta Braves.