A need for speed: C Space’s award-winning COVID-19 research project
March 25, 2021
Food & beverage
4 min read
Learn how C Space developed a super-speedy research methodology that revolutionised one supermarket's response to the pandemic (and wowed award judges).
When coronavirus sent the UK into lockdown, customer agency C Space sprang into action to help a major supermarket keep feeding the nation.
Their client needed to understand the all-new consumer landscape – and fast. Kate Szymanik, Senior Consultant at C Space, designed a research model that would provide both quantitative data and qualitative insight in a matter of hours. This intel was fed back to the client on a daily basis and used by the board to make vital business decisions.
So staggering was the agility of the solution, that it was recognised by the Market Research Society (MRS), winning the 2020 Research Live award for Business Impact of the Year – UK.
Szymanik says of the project: “It’s changed the way we think of ourselves and what we can do.”
To carry out the game-changing research, C Space brought their own online communities together with the millions of consumers available through the Attest research platform. By forming this “best-in-class tech partnership” they were able to deliver a new level of value to their client.
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In terms of understanding the impact of COVID-19 on British consumers, it’s fair to say the scope and urgency of this project put Szymanik and her team on the front line. They were tasked with engaging members of their online communities to hear stories of the virus first-hand and monitor sentiment changes as the crisis developed. To validate their learnings on a larger scale, C Space used data from Attest.
“Speed was a big challenge. It was so fast and it felt important,” says Szymanik of the project. “It really kept us in good spirits during the first lockdown, feeling that we were doing something that was immediately being actioned and was helping to feed the nation in a safe way and to keep the colleagues safe.”
“There were people we were talking to whose close relatives had died from COVID and they were sharing every element of their life. It was heartbreaking sometimes to listen to this but there was also this sense of urgency and community and a devotion to really believing that this work will help do something good.”
What was unique about this project was that it entailed daily reporting – from the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, all the way through to June. Reporting then went weekly for the summer. Always on-call, the team was able to respond the moment the PM announced new restrictions or recommendations, and get instant feedback from consumers.
A direct line to the board
It was the first time C Space had ever continuously fed insights directly into a client at board-level. Szymanik says it enabled the client – a large and complex organisation – to “act like the most agile startup.”
“Within hours the insights that came directly from customers were fed to the board,” she says. “They managed to be both general and detailed at the same time, so it was the right balance of general sentiment and answers to very specific questions.
“What was impressive was how the client actioned that data within hours. Sometimes we would do some research in the morning, deliver by 4pm and by the end of day it would already be implemented. It’s a big testament to the client’s team that they were really able to deliver the insights to the right people.”
For the client, this agile approach created new ways of working and facilitated the use of insight for making big operational decisions. It also helped them understand how to market themselves to customers in a time of industry-defining economic and societal change.
After pioneering the joint methodology of qualitative research + Attest, Szymanik has started to productize the concept for the agency’s wider portfolio. She describes it as a powerful solution that provides clients with robust figures alongside contextual understanding.
Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.