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Stephen: my first time

Having been invited to tell the story of my first time, I felt it was only right to share the first online qual research project that my then new business (Further) and our software supported.

It was a multi-market, multi-language study designed to understand the different cultures of iced tea drinkers around the world. The client - one of the world’s largest and most renowned brand innovation consultancies - had been doing this kind of work offline, but they wanted to try something new, innovative and, crucially, something that would give them a wider reach in a shorter space of time and a reduced cost over what traditional in-person research methods could.

Put simply, they put their faith in us and it meant a huge amount to us. We were extremely proud to have arrived at this point, but we knew we had a lot of work to do. We are also terrified, working through every ‘what if ’ scenario we could, in case our newly created software let us down.

I’d only just finishing building the first version of our community platform. Well, not me personally, my developers. The client approached me with this opportunity and was very excited about the potential to go deep into consumers lives at all times of the day, without the need to literally be alongside them. And more importantly, they wanted to capture natural, uninfluenced behaviours and the context of what’s going on around the participant - who they were with, what the occasion was, the artefacts etc.

When we first got the brief, I was super-excited. Our first real commercial project, with a great client, and a decent budget. The client had some great ideas for the kind of activities they wanted to do - including ethnographic diaries, deprivation tasks and group discussions.

My excitement was curtailed when they explained that they wanted to run the project in six languages. Holy cow, we’d only just finished building the very first version of our platform and it we’d only ever thought about the English language! What to do now!

The words ‘Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring,’ rang in my ears.


Captain Mainwaring - Dub, online qual


I tried to stay calm. I got my developers around the table and we hatched a plan to localise the software in the required languages. But we also need to advise the client on how to nuance the research design so that participants in the local markets could really engage with the activities.

It was a baptism of fire, but one which, after careful planning, a bit of panicking, and some cool, calm developers, was quickly overcome with some great ideas that would be the catalyst for Further’s qualitative research software for ever more - a powerful but easy to use research tool that could engage consumers the world over, without having to leave your desk.

Multi-market, multi-cultural studies quickly became the norm off the back of an era where domestic research was the done thing. Digital connectivity enabled this new way of conducting research and it became one of the major advantages of online research.

To this day, Further continues to pioneer new ways to understand people, their cultures and the things that motivate their behaviour. We help local brands go global, and global brands act locally. It’s what I love doing the most because it gives the SMEs a chance to move quickly and gather information on a global scale at a fraction of the time and cost. What’s more, online research delivers the depth and meaning traditional research now with new tools and techniques emerging every day.


If you’d like to learn more about how to make your research more agile and effective contact us by calling +44 (0) 20 3 515 3301 or email

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