It only took a second to warm to Chris. I liked him immediately. Not least because he referred to himself as an ad man at heart and for me at least, visions of Don Draper flashed up in my mind.
Chris founded The Brand Nursery in 2006 and has been running it ever since with his co-Directors James Acton and Robert Beckram.
As the name suggests they nurture brands, they grow them, they help brands succeed. And, they know their onions (quite literally). Although they’ve worked with brands across lots of sectors, food is very much their thing.
From chutneys to almonds, spreads to sauces - they drive the programmes that deliver the research, that uncover the insights, that provide the framework for effective brand development and design. And, they’ve done it over and over again for hundreds of brands, check them out to see some of their amazing work.
Back to Chris. I was there (there being Zoom) to talk to Chris about online qual. It’s what the Brand Nursery has been doing for 10+ years. It's their go-to method for qualitative research. Chris says: that notwithstanding the costs, which can be a mitigating factor for some projects, it brings research to life.”
Characteristically modest, he doesn’t consider himself an academic researcher, he says he’s more of a planner, a strategist but also a pragmatist. When he carried out his first online forum back in 2010, he worried he wouldn’t get the depth of insight he needed from online studies. “I needn’t have worried.” he said cheerfully. “What I’ve learned over the years, is that people always give you far more than you expect.”
I have to be honest, I know Chris is a fan of ours and that he’s run many, many projects using our platform. I wanted to know what sort of projects he’d used the platform for and whether he could share any game-changing insights he’d uncovered that had helped re-shape a brand, a business or a category?
“What do you think of almonds?” Chris asked.
“They’re a healthy alternative to chocolate?” I reply.
“They weren’t always seen that way. ” Chris replied.
Turns out that it's a lot due to the Brand Nursery and the insights they uncovered using online qual that has led to the once lowly-almond becoming King of the Healthy Snack Cupboard.
Working for a leading supplier of almonds, Chris and his team were able to guide their clients thinking around the re-positioning, steer them through developing an effective brand and forever change the fortunes of the almond, and I suspect the supplier who drove this reimagining of a nut.
With the rise of mindful consumption, consumers were looking for ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ snacks that ‘taste good and do good. Plant-based snacking was coming of age and consumers interested in cleaner, healthier living were on the lookout for natural, trusted and easily recognisable ingredients. Enter the almond. Widely regarded as the healthiest of nuts.
Never again would it be regarded as a simple object for hurling at unsuspecting brides on their wedding day.
Through the insight their online qual study revealed, they discovered a distinct new territory, it morphed into the ultimate snacking nut. And to this day its fortunes have gone from strength to strength as it led its fellow nuts out of darkness and into the healthy snacks aisles.
Game-changing. I think so.
But what about now? What's changed for the Brand Nursery since the pandemic hit?
It turns out life has just got busier. With face-to-face research no longer possible, companies have been turning to online qual in droves. Chris's phone has been ringing off the hook. And with many of these clients wholly new to online qual, he's been busy guiding, reassuring, advising.
He tells me that since Lockdown, they’ve been working for a leading healthy spread manufacturer. The client is a really experienced NPD guy whose product launches were forging ahead despite the virus . The show must go on, so to speak. He wanted an experienced team and no surprises. That’s clearly what they got with Chris and his team, as since March this client has already run 5 successful online studies and counting.
Chris goes on to say a lot of lovely things about our online qual platform, Together: how easy it is to use and the quality of our team, the support he has received over the years. He mentions specifically firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com We’re proud to have been part of his company’s success.
He did stray from our platform once. It didn’t work out. He doesn’t tell me which platform and he says it was a long time ago.
Encouragingly, he says, he doesn’t look anywhere else because he doesn’t need to. Whether he’s programming the platform himself or looking to our customer success team to do more of the heavy lifting for him, it’s easy.
He’s a pragmatist after all and he says, he always chooses the path of least resistance.
We’ll take that.
We’re so proud to be part of Chris’ journey. From our team to yours, we wish the Brand Nursery ongoing success with all your online qual.