Euros 2021 and Market Research

If we can get past the twitch that seeing 2020 written down gives us, you’ll be as ready for it to come home as we are!

The postponed 2020 Euros are kicking off on Friday 11th June with Turkey Vs Italy followed by England’s debut kickabout on Sunday. Managed by supreme waistcoat wearer Gareth Southgate, England’s squad includes Harry Kane leading the attack for England, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all set to be included in the squad.

Whether you’re passionate about the beautiful game or more than content to let the off side rule fly over your head, there’s no denying that the joy and optimism that a summer football championship brings to our little island will be more than welcomed this year. We will take the Vindaloo chants, the cheesy two for one drinks offers and knock off sports strips, we’ll take it all for the glimpse of collective optimism that this year will be OURS.

We’ve put the below calendar together not only as your reminder to bag your beer garden spot and don your three lions but also to assist you in gauging just how responsive participants are going to be over the coming weeks, helping you to avoid any match clashes and ensuing low turn outs and lack of engagement. The match schedule could also be a good way to plan ways to interact with participants, getting their score predictions and live reactions to England’s inevitable wins *side eye*.

Simply click the image below to download the calendar and don’t forget to tag us in your match predictions on social!

All eyes on Carina

We’re delighted to announce that Carina Ealam, who many of you will know from your work with Acumen’s Qualitative team has been shortlisted for the prestigious Parker Prize for Emerging Talent.

The award is organised by the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) which seeks to recognise anyone working within the research industry who has a passion for their work and consistently delivers results with flair, innovation and a job done brilliantly.

Carina has certainly made her mark at Acumen; joining the company as part of her work experience for her Anthropology degree before returning to the company in a full time role as a Qualitative project manager; earning high praise amongst many of our clients.

Ken Parker, after whom the prize is named, was passionate about helping young people develop their passions so we’d like the fund to be put towards personal development. Think conferences, courses, talks, learning a new language, developing a new skill, or trying a new experience, from Semiotics to sky-diving. The fund will be held by the AQR secretariat and can be allocated to one or multiple courses or experiences (up to the value of £1,000) over the course of the year.

We’ll be keeping everything crossed for Carina while the judges deliberate over all 6 candidates up for this year’s prize. And while the winner of the Parker Prize will be announced on the 30th of June, we’ve long since known that Carina is a winner with both her colleagues and our clients.

Five essentials for delivering engaging virtual research

An unexpected positive of the last 12 months has been the ability to conduct more remote usability testing conveniently and quickly. As a provider of participant recruitment for UX studies, Acumen has put together 5 steps on running an awesome field stage of a UX project.

Define but also diversify your personas

Define the personas you want to test from an appropriate source – this might be existing customer data or even competitor data if your client is seeking new customers. Ask yourself if you need to think about life stage, gender, income, ethnicity, abilities and recruit a broad range of participants.

Have your links ready

Have a clear idea of the platform you’ll use and how participants will join it when you put your brief together. Then you can check they have the right set up during recruitment (browsers, screening in mac/ pc users), and they will receive one clear invite which has everything they need on it rather than a drip of information.

Do tech checks

The technical ability of the general population has increased alongside their reliance on it. Hands up if your granny can now use Zoom? But when remote testing some platforms may struggle; internet connections may vary. A tech check the day before (at roughly the same session time) for just a couple of minutes can iron out any teething problems.

Listen and take time

There is huge pressure to run back to back sessions, jumping from one to another. Even if you’re eager to cover ground with participants, active listening is essential. Consider a formal qualitative moderation course to help develop this skill. Arrange sessions with rest times between to alleviate the stress of overrunning, and give yourself time to make notes.


Avoid bias during testing

Keeping things contained, low cost and casual led many developers to use friends, family and colleagues in the past to test. This can cause a false consensus effect if participants are not neutral to the process. Screen out those who might have hidden agendas, and balance the range of criteria so that your participant’s characteristics are weighted in any one way.

Acumen provides project management and recruitment for in person and remote user tests. Screener writing, recruitment, tech checks, hosting, and incentive payments can all be handled by our expert team of project managers. To chat about how we can help email 



Zoom Focus Groups – User Guide

We’re always looking for ways to add value for our clients in whatever capacity we can. The sudden shift to Online F2F has meant that large numbers of the UK population have had to rapidly upskill in order to make the most of the many video conferencing platforms being used.

Here, we’ve put together some of the most common problems we’ve experienced when asking the public to log in for research. To download a copy of our full cheat-sheet to use on your own research please go to our website.

We can’t promise to solve all connectivity problems but with this guide there should be fewer pixelated faces or ominous silhouettes looming in the corner of your screen.


ISO 20252 Accredited

We’re delighted to announce that despite the problems posed by Coronavirus, during a week when we moved from a Tier 3 restriction to a national lockdown, we were still able to go ahead with our ISO20252 audit.

Remote working proved to be no obstacle when it came to our team providing full accounts of our quality control procedures – meeting both industry regulations in addition to the legal requirements of GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

No doubt Team Acumen will be celebrating in style as soon as it’s safe for them to do so.

If you’d like more information about how our Quality Controls can enhance your research, please contact

The Recruiter Accreditation Scheme has landed!

Acumen are delighted to confirm that they will be fully endorsing the Recruiter Accreditation Scheme which is due to launch within the next week.

The scheme, which is the first of its kind in the industry, has been developed by the MRS and the AQR in a joint initiative designed to provide a formalised standard for market research recruitment. It will create an industry-wide set of standards – creating quality assurances for anyone involved with procuring the services of recruiters. Additionally it will also provide a path to professional recognition for recruiters, who have frequently been one of the most overlooked parts of research supply chain.

It’s for this reason that Acumen are pledging their support for the scheme. Our ethos has always been to put quality at the heart of  everything we do. In fact it was our very own founder, Julie Fuller, who first raised the notion of a professional qualification for recruiters when she was elected to the AQR board over 5 years ago. Since then it has been continually championed by Acumen, most recently by our Fieldwork Director, Becki Pickering, who has been part of the steering committee overseeing the final stages of the scheme’s development.

Highlighting its importance, Becki said “This is a watershed moment for the market research industry. Recruiters are an essential part of qualitative market research and the scheme will recognise this fact by elevating the work that they do. Not only will it provide a professional qualification but it will also be a resource for anyone who recruits market research participants.”

Underpinning the scheme are a number of modules which cover everything from new and emerging recruitment techniques to best practice around data protection and GDPR compliance. Each module will be delivered via the scheme’s dedicated website and will use videos, quizzes and webinars to deliver the content. There will also be a number of free resources for recruiters, in the form of template documents, in addition to providing a directory of accredited recruiters for clients to use.

Acumen will also be committing to the scheme by using only accredited recruiters for their projects. We hope that by doing this we will enable as many of our suppliers to participate in the scheme, in addition to promoting a best in class ethic with our clients. By collectively committing to this scheme we will, in time, effect real change within the industry; facilitating a quality first approach to all of our qualitative recruitment.

If you would like to know more about the Recruiter Accreditation Scheme or how we can help with your market research projects, you can contact a member of our team by email or by calling 0161 234 9940.

Coronavirus Impact Report

Acumen are delighted to share the results of our first “Coronavirus Impact Report”. This first piece of research, looking at how public attitudes towards market research are likely to be affected by the ongoing pandemic, is being shared freely with our friends and colleagues within the research industry as we all attempt to adjust to our new normal.

Our flagship study has been conducted with a sample of the British population in an effort to understand what factors they will be considering as the country moves out of lockdown and we look to begin conducting market research again.

What did we do and who did we speak to?

Our research took the form of a short online survey sent to a national database of participants who have opted in for market research projects. The survey took approximately 5 minutes to complete and specifically queried attitudes and sentiments around participating in market research once restrictions have been relaxed in the near future.

What did they say?

The purpose of the research was to understand the public perception towards various market research related activities and to see how people felt about them in relation to other everyday activities.

Our first finding will be certain to give some comfort to our colleagues in the research industry as our sample viewed individual face-to-face research as being second only to visiting a supermarket for activities that involve social contact.

Focus groups with 5-8 people were also favoured above visiting the hairdressers to get a haircut – and we’ve all read the reports of how desperate people have been feeling about that.

It isn’t quite as good news for large public events where you might anticipate interacting with large volumes of people in an uncontrolled environment. On this, visiting the zoo, attending music festivals or concerts and going to the gym were the least favoured activities of our sample as they contemplate what they’ll be doing when they’re returning to their day-to-day activities.

Risk reduction

When we asked our sample about what measures could be put in place to make them feel safer and more comfortable when attending a face-to-face focus group or interview our sample were very clear in their view that social distancing was certain to put them at ease.

This answer received more than twice the positive response of the next most favoured option – having the ability to drive and park at venues. This may become a key consideration for the wider market research industry as we consider how to move out of current lockdown position and begin to plan future market research projects.

Any other considerations?

Online research has been the champion methodology for the past few months. Thankfully for researchers it also seems that participants have been able to adapt to this very quickly with high levels of confidence across age groups including those aged over 55 who may have previously avoided studies with this method. When asked to state their levels of confidence we see high levels of agreement amongst all participant groups indicating that this is a change that people have really embraced in this new environment.

If you would like to know more about our research or if you would like to see the full report of our findings then please send an email to and we will be happy to send you our complete results. 

CoronaVirus: The public speaks

The events of the past week can’t be understated. The news of the spread of Coronavirus to the UK and the World Health Organisation recognising it as a global pandemic has forced everyone around the world to reassess almost every aspect of their lives.

At Acumen we’ve had to enact a number of contingency policies to ensure the safety of our staff, clients and all of the supply partners and participants that we rely to conduct our research. We’re grateful that, for now, the impact has been minimal and inconvenient – in comparison to the differing scenarios unfolding globally.

In times like these many of us are reaching out for answers, advice and solutions. As people who work in market research we have a deep understanding of that drive. We also wanted to know, not just about the virus, but the every day impact that an event like this has on us – at a personal level and at a national level.

We decided to distribute a survey via our recruiting partners, Research Opinions, to try and get a better picture of the view from the UK. Here are some of their responses:

Some of the statistics were reflected in the verbatim responses we recorded:

I’m concerned that things are even worse than we are being told. That the government aren’t acting quickly enough and there will be many deaths.

The effect on the vulnerable and those who are self employed. I’m concerned as a health worker in a hospital too. Seeing empty supermarkets is something I never would’ve expected to see in my lifetime. 


There were almost equal levels of support and discord with the governments response to the outbreak:

I am less concerned today than I have been over the last 2 weeks. The government has finally taken this pandemic seriously but their measures are too little, too late and do not go far enough. 

Mixed information given and different countries adopting different strategies. 

The panic is more concerning. The measures being taken are limiting income. I feel there is more scaremongering than actual facts.

Everyone should have access to testing so they can self isolate even if they have no symptoms. At the moment even people with symptoms are not being tested and are just told to stay at home. 


I think a lot of this is hysteria but it’s hard not to feel concerned when you hear about it 24/7.

I’m sure if everyone is careful with hygiene and isolating if they are unwell, then the spreading of the virus will be limited. Unfortunately we live in a selfish, greedy world where people have never practiced good hygiene and aren’t going to start now. Or they’re going over the top with panic buying; leaving others in want. The virus itself isn’t the problem.

What we’re doing about Coronavirus

The outbreak of Coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation which is presenting challenges for people at all levels of society. At Acumen we’ve been working hard to prepare for these and many other adverse situations that can arise and impact the work we do day to day.

Our first priority is always ensuring the safety of our team, the clients who work with us, our partners in the research supply chain and, of course, the public who participate in our many and varied research projects.

We have been listening to the advice provided by the UK Government, the NHS and the World Health Organisation and have responded with a number of measures to help us as the situation evolves.

In terms of our day to day operation it is still very much business as usual at the moment. We are still operating at normal capacity, quoting on projects, organising research, and delivering our usual high level of service every day. In the event that the spread of Coronavirus would impact our ability to work from our office then we have contingencies in place to allow any of our team to work remotely, ensuring there would be no disruption to our services.

We have also implemented a number of measures to the way we’re working in an effort to mitigate the risk posed by Coronavirus to our participants, clients and research partners.

All screening material now includes questions which encourage participants to self-isolate and contact the relevant health authorities if they have either personally visited or been in contact with someone who has visited any of the most severely affected countries in the last 14 days. This is irrespective of whether they are displaying symptoms or not.

For participants who are due to take part in research we have implemented an SMS system to request that; “Given the evolving COVID-19 situation we request that, prior to attending any research, you follow the public health advice relevant to any recent travel you may have completed or symptoms you are experiencing.”

Additionally, we are providing all participants, interviewers and researchers with information on how they can practise good hand hygiene and advising them on how to minimise contact through social distancing and avoiding physical contact.

We have also been in constant communication with the many venues, interviewers and other suppliers that we work with to deliver our research services to ensure that all our following the latest advice on the ways to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on our industry. Further information can be found via the MRS website here.

The main focus of our business is to plan for all eventualities but if you have any questions about current or future research projects that you would like assistance with then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Acumen team are ready to help.

LAST UPDATED: 11/03/2020 – 16:00