Transcript of recording with Bob Qureshi, Ray Poynter, Patrice Wooldridge, Holly O’Neill, and Chris Hauck – generated automatically by HappyScribe which means it will be about 80% accurate – if you spot confusing errors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The timestamps are included to help you jump directly to a point of interest.
[00:00:07.710] – Ray Poynter
And I’d like to introduce Bob Kureshi, who is the founder and CEO of a viewing facility in the U.K. called iView. Hi, Bob.
[00:00:16.230] – Bob Qureshi
[00:00:17.310] – Ray Poynter
Bob, tell us a little bit about what your view is and what it was doing pretty well.
[00:00:24.680] – Bob Qureshi
Here as a viewing facility, as you mentioned, we have one in Leeds. We had one in Warsaw. And that tells the tale of what’s happening over the last year. And we have one in central London. It’s been awarded the best viewing facility for three years in a row. January and February of twenty twenty were our two greatest months in the seven years that we’ve been trading prior to that. So as a business, we’ve been doing incredibly well.
[00:00:51.870] – Bob Qureshi
We all know what happened after that. We hit this. It’s called the roller coaster. It suddenly came upon us. And we as market researchers generally are used to the change. We’re used to the challenges. We’re not frightened by change. I think we’re all project managers at heart. We like to see a problem, see what’s there and how can we work our way around it. Often there’s a start, a beginning and an end to all of these kind of issues.
[00:01:20.970] – Bob Qureshi
I think the issue that we had and I think many others felt it, too, in our industry was that when we have this noise in the UK and around the same time the rest of the world in March, if we thought this was a one month, two months, maybe three month issue and by the summer, but we’ll be back to normal and the world will shape up. And so on that basis, we put all of our plans together, assuming we have a three month closure and this is on the back of a wave of three or four years of incredibly good growth, not just for us, but all the viewing facilities across the world.
[00:01:57.330] – Bob Qureshi
If you like our we work very closely with our US Partners Network, and they have a number of facilities across the US and we work with them and they’ve been doing incredibly well, too. But then to suddenly find that you things are outside of your control, you don’t quite know when people will be allowed to get out and meet, but not put a big challenge in front of us.
[00:02:23.350] – Ray Poynter
And there was a brief period in the summer when things started to come back to some sort of normality, but things change. What sort of things did you need to put in place and what were things we’re doing the same similar things in the States.
[00:02:39.010] – Bob Qureshi
Absolutely. Up until that point, the governments in each of those countries that were affected put in place certain measures that if you were going to go back into a face to face, face to face environment, hospitality, catering for the U.K. and in particular England, July the Fourth had a different meaning, as it might do in the US, where it might be Independence Day. We in the U.K. saw that as the day the pubs would open on a trip.
[00:03:09.820] – Bob Qureshi
That’s probably the most important thing. But indirectly, it meant that we too could open up. And that meant that we had to have in place all the safety measures, the coded protocols that the various medical authorities had put in place about social distancing. When you come into our venue and many other venues, you held up with a gun, but a temperature gun, it’s put on your forehead to see what temperature you are sanitisers all over the place, perspex screens, glass screens facing rearrangement reconfiguration.
[00:03:42.010] – Bob Qureshi
And I can’t think in my personal case that might be enough for the work that they did, but that is echoed across all the facilities. And there’s far too many for me to mention across the world, and in particular here in the UK, the issues that I’m closest to.
[00:04:01.650] – Ray Poynter
And how long what he just gets back up on that? How did it go when people started running groups again, face to face depth’s, tasting sessions?
[00:04:14.240] – Bob Qureshi
That’s a really good question, because because of the social distancing, you had to have to me just to start off with here or six feet in the US, for example, you had to move to one metre plus, which only allowed a certain number of people in any confined space walk that required for us to reconfigure the way in which what was taking place to work with our clients were coming in. We found a lot more depth interviews, a lot more many groups and those facilities in the UK that have rooms that can open up where you might have had a partition wall and you could have had two focus groups who are using the double space to run one focussed group of people where normally you could have two rooms between eight to 10 people.
[00:05:00.360] – Bob Qureshi
So it was a complete remap, a complete reconfiguration. We weren’t just as an industry concerned with worrying about the clients and the participants coming in. And by the way, the show operates for participants. One hundred percent. If you had ever recruited one hundred and ten percent that you needed, people were so happy to get out, were so happy to get out. But not only were they getting out and coming to the facility, they could use that time to visit other retail outlets while they were in town.
[00:05:33.020] – Bob Qureshi
The main issue that we have is a premises based operation. We have rights, we have municipality or business rights, they don’t disappear, and that was a challenge for us in the market research industry and for those of our audience listening in the local councils, the municipalities, the local authorities didn’t quite know where to position us because we weren’t quite seen as a restaurant, a wine bar or a retail hospitality place or an event space for weddings or other gatherings.
[00:06:10.170] – Bob Qureshi
We had to really fight our case. And I’m one of the things that we did here in England. And I know that I feel that and are doing it in the US is creating a new word called collaboration rather than competition with our competitors, if you like. We all got together and canvassed the local authorities and put some information to them to describe to them that we are a public AULUS, such as public schools are closed. We are halls of spaces for the public to come in and give us their opinions and views.
[00:06:45.930] – Bob Qureshi
We managed to get the right solution. And to put that into perspective, for a company like ours, it’s 15 percent of all of our costs going out as the right to learn. And if you’ve got no business coming in, you need to stop haemorrhaging in any mitigation that you may have. So from a two part research design and methodology change. And after listening to intently to the speakers we had before, particularly Patrice and Holly, clients did what they had done for quite some time, but accelerated, in my opinion, the path to online related studies, trying to make sure that the clients that they had their work was being done, but trying to take advantage of all the learnings they had and the new platforms, well, they’re not necessarily new, but the ones that are certainly come to top of mind, such as such a change.
[00:07:40.830] – Bob Qureshi
I mean, I’d never heard of Zoome until this started. I heard of teams. I’ve heard of a couple of others, but I’ve never heard a decision. And of course, some of our Webster Webster new providers persuasion and vocal views, all of these companies came to the forefront to provide their services to help us and our clients to find another way to get projects done. We know there are certain types of projects that you just can’t do online.
[00:08:08.430] – Bob Qureshi
There is usually a way around it to try and find a way to do it, but it’s not necessarily quite the same. But it’s been wonderful to see the way organisations have pivoted. We to have accelerated our own plans for saying, well, we thought we’d always be a premises based business. We took apart an educational learning, accelerated our involvement in online research. So we to have a platform, we’re doing all the things that help our clients because they do come first.
[00:08:37.740] – Bob Qureshi
But I think from a. Face to face point of view during this period when we open briefly in the summer and again very briefly afterwards, in that month, just before the second lock down and before Christmas or winter holidays, that continues many groups medical health care up studies. That is where the trend was going. Everything else. But I’m sure my my fellow panellists will agree wasn’t so much us, the moderates, as it came to the agencies keen to do the work.
[00:09:10.790] – Bob Qureshi
We’re standing at the front door with the keys, open the end clients, the corporates, they have had certain rules put in their organisation for fear of getting anybody in a vulnerable position to say, statelets, you mustn’t go out so we can be true. We did run a couple of projects that Sam was involved in where we actually ran the study and all the clients did. So the participants came in and we did the moderation and we did all of that.
[00:09:40.070] – Bob Qureshi
So. It’s what we see and we hear elsewhere about how I suppose smart we are in the way that we can adapt ourselves to what’s happening around us. So over the last year, we’ve got to really change the way in which we operate. And in particular. How collaborative we have become, I would seldom talk to my London based competitive viewing facility unless we had some work for them, but for us now I know their first names, their second names like Dog in their house where they live.
[00:10:18.640] – Bob Qureshi
It’s just so good to see us working together. And I must commend the Insights Association in the US, the Research Society in Australia and the Market Research Society in the UK, because without them we would not have had the government lobbying that we needed to categorise us in an area so that we could, if you like, with a fish reality that would but with some degree of confidence to be able to say to our clients, we are allowed to do this.
[00:10:48.700] – Bob Qureshi
And for those of you that know in the UK, we are part of the trade of media, culture and sport and we come under wet laboratories for those we think of what the is, it’s where you do testing of viruses and chemicals and various things, lab testing. We come under the same category of that. So it’s regarded as essential research. So whilst this current period. We’ve been under lockdown. We do have dispensation to carry out core essential research.
[00:11:21.260] – Bob Qureshi
For example, if we’ve done some work on the diabetes pads and devices and I know other agencies have to, so pivoting, working together, working with government, working with our societies. But also I want to thank you and also organisations such as yours, which give me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the viewing facilities and all that we’re striving to do. We expect change to happen. We don’t expect it to be the same as it was before a year ago.
[00:11:51.350] – Bob Qureshi
But we’re ready for that change. I personally see a much smaller face to face market for viewing facilities, certainly for the next 18 to two months, unless we come up with something dynamic. But what we have to do is embrace other technologies. And for those of us that are left, we need to think, how can we increase our individual market share of pause for a moment?
[00:12:15.740] – Ray Poynter
But we’ve got about 10 minutes left in total. So I’m going to invite the other panel members to unmuted their cameras back on it and just hear from everybody. Where do we think we’re going as we start to get vaccinated? I’ve had mine. Dobbs had his. And things are really what it’s going to go forward in the Coalwood, what sort of things are we going to see face to face? I think, Chris, what you’re showing is really needs to be in person.
[00:12:47.660] – Ray Poynter
We know, I think, what’s coming online. But Patrice.
[00:12:51.550] – Patrice Wooldridge
I think, you know, if you work with a lot of food companies, you have already hit that that place where nobody can taste the food. So that’s been a problem for us. We have done a couple of studies where we’ve shipped out what we can, but I am very much looking forward to being able to do more in person. And we have already had the opportunity to do small one on one where the person put bringing in the food masks completely and brings it in.
[00:13:23.110] – Patrice Wooldridge
But food is something you if you need them to taste something that you just can’t do it online.
[00:13:32.570] – Ray Poynter
[00:13:34.160] – Holly O’Neill
You know, I think we’re actually going to see more ethnography, I think being able to actually be with the consumer at the point of consumption or the point of purchase, that’s something that’s missing with it as well, really is going to give a new flavour, something that we’re missing today in research that is super, super powerful and immersive for quality of learning.
[00:13:55.920] – Ray Poynter
I’ll give you a one example of that. I was talking to a panel with Yassmin differently from Salomon, something make all the sporting products and so on. And one part of her normal research, no covid around is to go on a trial run for an hour with a customer finding out how do they use the product, where they put the keys and all of these sort of things, where even if you get a virtual reality, it’s not the same as trail running for an hour with a customer.
[00:14:25.320] – Ray Poynter
And that’s creates pretty deep immersive.
[00:14:28.800] – Chris Hauck
That’s really deep immersive. And I have no interest in doing that. Run with her or anybody else.
[00:14:36.900] – Ray Poynter
No, thank you. So, Bob, what would sort of things do you think we’re going to see from June the twenty first in the U.K.?
[00:14:45.450] – Bob Qureshi
If we’re going to say we’re all going to go to a nightclub and we’re all to have a party with nightclubs open the 21st, we’re going to be outside after 10 p.m. and actually have something to do. I love the thumbs up. I think for our industry we are going to actually mirror what we see happening around us. We had a great conversation with about 15 PCs this morning. We talked about what when should we start promoting that? We’re really, really open.
[00:15:17.940] – Bob Qureshi
We can get back to a sense of normality. And what we’re waiting for is making sure the number doesn’t increase. The the death rate is really down to a very low number. The infection rate is down so the governments don’t change their minds. So we can get to a point and we can start seeing people which here in England will be April 12th. They can go and sit outside a pub. I’ll use the analogy. It could be any other place, but from May the 17th, they can go inside the venue.
[00:15:46.740] – Bob Qureshi
And I think from when people are getting comfortable with that, because we know there are so many people that just do not want to leave their house. But I think from June 21st, first we are allowed to do those things. I think face to face is going to be about six weeks to eight weeks behind that because everybody’s going to want to go on holiday once they’ve got the holiday. But all of this out like September, October, November is when we will start to see volumes of groups and work coming back to our facilities.
[00:16:15.000] – Bob Qureshi
But I’ll finish on this point here. We will see far more of a hybrid way of doing things. And I call it the dawn of the quality verse. We’ve been watching too many Marvel and DC films. We are at the dawn of the quality verse where we will have a hybrid approach and it could be online in the facility where actually one or two participants may be on screen. We’ll have a mixture of one moderator in the room. We may have another moderator get involved elsewhere.
[00:16:43.890] – Bob Qureshi
But I think all the work that Patrice, Holly and Christopher is all going to mesh together, we have to help drive it rather than being reactive to what our clients might want.
[00:16:59.230] – Ray Poynter
I’m sure that’s right, because you mentioned with clients streaming in, international travel is going to be limited for quite a lot longer. So you’re not going to have a client flying in from Australia to watch the group. So building that in. And then as Patrice was talking about the 360 camera, where it actually shows the picture of whoever’s talking properly and then thinking about combining Chris’s work with Patrice’s comment about drones could be really fun. Well, that brings us to the end of our time at the moment.
[00:17:36.930] – Ray Poynter
So thank you both. That’s been really enlightening. And let’s hope things do indeed start to get better quite soon. And thank you, Holly, Patrice and Chris, for joining in the discussion.