NewsAbout UsContactWebsiteBizcommunity
How can gender progressive advertising help grow your brand?
Read more
The Experience Advantage
Read more
Authentically disruptive: staying true, thinking differently
Read more
Generation Curious – why technology brings out our inner child
Read more

TNS Qualitative: Humanising 'consumers' by recruiting beyond the quota

Consumers are people too. Consumers are citizens, mothers, brothers, and voters. Consumers are more than the ticked demographic boxes, they are real people with real lives, responsibilities, frustrations, interests, hobbies and passions. With this in mind, TNS Qualitative's vision incorporates "thinking outside of ticked boxes, seeing the real person behind the consumer, understanding the 'consumer' within his or her context and humanising static demographics". By understanding that people of the same demographic may not necessarily share the same need sets or motivations, TNS Qualitative has broken through traditional mindsets to rather focus on consumer's contexts.
"To us, context is the exploration of the 'multiple-me's' - the concept that people are more than just the sum of their parts and, depending on different situations, settings, or brands, may make different choices. By exploring all types of roles in rich variations, we are able to re-examine 'consumers' rather than confirming expectations: parents who are children, CEO's who are mothers, or artists who are business owners," explains the qualitative team at TNS.

Understanding context goes beyond reporting insights; it starts with establishing the life contexts of participants recruited. The qualitative team emphasises a phrase they have coined as 'recruiting beyond the quota' - moving away from recruiting based solely on demographics, sample stratifications and quotas. This has resulted in recruiting participants into conversations based on aspects such as values, interests, motivations and need sets. The use of pen portraits or participant collages allows recruiters to grasp the essence of the participant, rather than stereotypical archetypes.

The challenge here is to break through clients' traditional way of thinking, in order for the benefits of recruiting and understanding participants at a deeper level to yield insights based on harmonised realities for strategic and actionable 'consumer' conversations. Part of this challenge is to question and think of consumers as real people from the outset of the project, not to be ensnared by clients' perceptions of who they think their consumers are. "This new mindset allows us to become true Trusted Advisors", comments the team, explaining that they are then able to pull on previous 'consumer' insights and build new paths forward to change and innovate the most critical aspect of qualitative research: recruitment.

"Our mission is to put inspired insightful intelligence into all aspects of qualitative research," says Rebecca Wynberg, TNS CEO Global Qualitative Practice. While the number of participants in a qualitative study may be significantly fewer than in a quantitative study, the depth of insight and the value of context means that qualitative research is by no means less meaningful. In fact, TNS Qualitative team strongly believes that their qualitative insights work well in partnership with quantitative data to provide over-arching answers to clients.

Often perceived as a 'quantitative' market research company, TNS is in fact one of the largest qualitative research providers in South Africa, conducting in excess of 690 group discussions a year. As part of TNS's strategy to incorporate a stronger qualitative focus into its insights generation, the company has recently invested significantly in strengthening and building its formidable qualitative practice with a team of 18 experienced qualitative practitioners and support staff.

The TNS Qualitative team encourages collaboration, partnership and alliance with clients, with the common goal of providing valuable insights that encourage strategic brand thinking and actions. "As the Qualitative experts, we offer an advisory hand, providing an important element to insight - the human touch," concludes the team.

About TNS

TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world's consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.

TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups.

Please visit for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. By connecting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 28,500 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

For further information, please visit us at

10 Jul 2014 09:11



Subscribe to our ‘Straight Talk” blog

A series of short bi-weekly posts by our thought leaders on the world of marketing and the challenges facing marketers