What we do:
Marketing Research & Customer Insights

Insight & Analysis

Some market researchers say the current quest is for cheaper, faster and good enough data, and yet marketers admit that after investing millions in a new product it still has only a 15% chance of succeeding. We help improve the odds of success through better understanding.

Most marketing research companies promise insight. At Gadd we deliver. Real market research has to be accurate, reliable and comprehensive (understanding the emotional drivers as well as the rational). We are adept at research design.Our clients make better decisions because of our insights and analysis. They appreciate our diagnosis and the opportunities for strengthening an initiative.


We conduct all kinds of marketing research studies involving brands (qualitative online diaries and surveys with projective techniques), advertising, websites, packaging, products and content. We research business to consumer, business to business, qualitative, quantitative, hybrid and longitudinal.

We use focus groups and surveys for pre-testing, surveys (mainly online) for tracking – pulsing or continuous and rolling weekly bimonthly or monthly. There are many opportunities to dig deeper beyond surveys via webinar or telephone IDI. There are huge opportunities for in-the-moment probing as shoppers exit websites and desert shopping carts without buying. We can track people via their mobile; our 4M was designed with these possibilities in mind, for tracking behaviour, deep in the moment dives of a behaviour of interest, ideation and testing.

For now though there is nothing quite like observing actual behaviour – what people do, when, how. The why is trickier. People often take the easy way and post-rationalize their emotionally driven behaviour, motivation and attitudes. They often need a bit of help. For example, the problem for an FI brand’s product was discovered not by traditional qualitative or quantitative brand studies but by a Gadd survey, which featured projective techniques.


Our game-changing, patent pending BrandMetrix process identifies key performance indicators related to feelings targeted customers have for self (really or ideally) and the connections a specific brand must make with those emotions. It is customer-centric and brand-specific (but not brand-centric) Brand-specific data is collected, analyzed and metricized based on customer-centric feelings about self, when they drive purchase.

Our analysis of 600 ads concluded that the best marketing is targeted to specific feelings people have for self. The best predictors of purchase interest were “the ad gets at how I feel”, “the ad gets at how I would like to feel” or the “the ad stirs my emotions.”

BrandMetrix is an evolution of research techniques with long histories in clinical psychology and qualitative research. It is highly engaging, as subjects are given a stimulus, often a photo, to help them get in touch with their feelings and express them. Or participants are required to send us stimuli which best represents the feelings they have towards self (real, ideal and not at all) and/or feelings toward a specific brand. The stimuli submitted are probed and clarified in detail. The data collected are analyzed, interpreted and brand-specific metrics are created.

The focus for analysis is on the open-ended feelings expressed.Metrics can be used for both scoring and insight for action. The same approach can be used consistently for every step of marketing/CX.

BrandMetrix provides marketers and stakeholders with standardized metrics for both analog and digital marketing; along with clear customer-centric diagnostics and scores. It improves ROI by providing better data for strategy, brand positioning, rejuvenation, creative development, testing, refining,\ and tracking. More engaged research subjects and better response rates result in deeper, more comprehensive, more accurate and reliable data.

It can be faster when it is automated with text analytics and metrics analyzed by statistical procedures on custom dashboards.It can be more economical than fMRI, eye tracking, and even regular surveys, depending on how customers might best be sourced from panels, databases, and stores.

For example, the problem for an FI brand’s product was discovered not by traditional qualitative or quantitative brand studies but by a Gadd projective survey which featured projective techniques. Asked to choose from specific photos best representing their feelings towards the product under study the plurality chose a photo of a padlock. The reasons why not only helped to define the problem but a blueprint as to the solution as well.

A simple sentence completion exercise to the statement “I finally decided to use (brand) when they ” helped confirm that the communications strategy for Canada should be the same as in the US

We choose techniques from our large toolbox depending on the purpose of the research, the background to the situation, the expected use of the result, the action standards, and the information needed. The tools fit the problem – not the other way around.


Innovation is in our DNA. Our most famous inventions, adoptions, adaptations and evolutions include Gadd’s exclusive InterAd creative pre-testing, SimulShop shopper simulation, Brandmetrix emotional-link research and 4M; 4M includes ongoing tracking, deep understanding as to motivation, innovation/co-creation and testing for the emotional reward giving the proposition “legs,” as well as the rational.

We are the only company made in Canada to be awarded the Best New Methodology prize for our work with Molson Brewery, at the ESOMAR Congress.

Brand Advertising and Research

Emotional Links

Since its earliest years critics might say that marketing research has done a better job measuring the rational mind than the emotional mind. The problem is that an estimated 80 percent of purchase decisions are made by EQ not IQ.

Our own analysis of over 600 ads in our InterAd pre-testing database indicates that the number one driver of purchase intent is the emotional connection; “how the ad makes me feel” or “how it makes me want to feel.”

Feelings are important. The most successful ads and campaigns we have researched are empathetic. Campaigns are now often 360, including both traditional analog and digital. Measures of recognition are required as well as recall. Data from different sources are often needed.

Standardized metrics and measurements across brands are used where possible. Brands are designed to be different, appealing to different target groups and mindsets. Customized brand-specific data are needed, along with standardized data that accommodates some comparisons.

New Technologies, Focus Groups & Shopper Studies

The technologies we use to identify emotional links and effective messaging have certainly changed, creating a robust portfolio of enrichment opportunities for marketers to effectively capture customers. Gadd is most valuable when providing multi-modal research that includes focus groups, viewer reward profiles, emotion studies, shopper studies, multi-modal customer journey tracking, observation and deep dive, quantitative segmentation, tracking, pricing, and testing, qualitative research including observation and customer diaries, quali-quant and longitudinal studies using our ever increasing toolbox of research technologies and exercises. Our custom designed emotion-probing measures include brand and personal image sorts, brand temperature readings, sentence completion and brand grouping.


Gadd’s exclusive InterAd process is used to pre-test broadcast, print and digital advertising and campaign ideas. It evaluatess brand concepts, creative, media, channels and verifies comprehension, believability, likeability, relevance, brand linkage, and purchase interest. It was developed by Gadd in conjunction with some of the most innovative ad agencies in the world and has been used by Ford, Canadian Tire, BMO, Bell, P&G, Heinz, Pillsbury, Coca Cola, Mott’s, Cadbury, Shopper’s Drug Mart and many others.

InterAd is considered the leader among pre-testing practices because it uses a reward and control group technique to avoid inaccurate overestimations of the effectiveness of the messaging. Effectiveness overestimation often happens with lesser approaches that pre-test creative in isolation. Over time Gadd has made InterAd even more effective by adding deep dive follow-ups into emotional responses. These verify the findings and crystallize the key aspects of the messaging.

Deeper Dives

Sometimes it is challenging to ask a group of strangers to discuss a personal topic like purchase behaviour, so Gadd crafts both public exercises and private ones. Successful brands are designed to be different. Some research should be customized and personalized rather than standardized, and should yield brand-specific metrics. This is why Gadd conducts in-depth interviews to determine behaviour and motivations. Over the years we have learned to move toward more indirect questioning and projective techniques in quantitative studies as well as qualitative studies.

We also employ customer behaviour observation during actual purchase explorations and transactions (in-store and online) rather than asking customers about last week, last month or last year. It results in more accurate in-the-moment information.

Before betting the company on a clever product story that simply won’t work very well, demand superior research and analysis from Gadd to thoroughly verify your advertising or brand narrative’s effectiveness, ineffectiveness and the exact reasons for both.


Website Usability

Multi-channel buying behaviour means the pathways to success are changing. Gadd is revolutionizing online and app usability testing. We are working with new research models and brand-specific metrics designed to respond to new needs, for example, based on McKinsey’s 21st century purchase funnel.

People abandon shopping carts, resulting in in lost transactions, revenue, profit, customer acquisition and retention. Why? What sort of remote usability research can be used to help understand their frustration? How can the mobile or desktop online experience reach acceptance with your critical mass?

Marketing is becoming more about influencing brand choice through content and conversations. How, when and where might you best influence? How do you smoothly move from persuasion to desired consumer behaviour? How do you best measure the effectiveness of your initiatives?

4M Mobile: In-the-Moment

Rather than rely on the faulty memories of consumers about their past behaviour, Gadd’s exclusive 4M Mobile technology automatically records consumer actions, revealing motivations and attitudes as they happen.

The true power of 4M is flexibility. It can be used for continuous tracking, moment in time, pre-event or post-event measurements. Each study is custom designed and programmed to meet unique information needs. 4M permits stakeholders to remotely experience, first-hand, how people navigate. You can watch, listen, learn, experience and fix the mobile online experience. Even the most resistant IT professionals have learned to appreciate how 4M reveals deep insights and strategic information that will change results with customers, and provide the real story behind new brand trials, loyalty and switching.

4M Mobile is even more powerful when combined with other techniques, for example, to fill in the missing information from your qualitative focus groups and quantitative tracking.

Before investing a lot of time and expense to coding and database work, find out if actual real world customer behaviour matches consumer survey claims, with 4M Mobile tracking from Gadd.


Product Testing

We have used monadic, sequential monadic, paired comparison and triangle tests in homes, malls, hotels etc., to test products and new marketing initiatives. These have involved beer, cars, ketchup, cheese, chips, fabric softeners, french fries, hamburgers, sandwiches, personal products, kitchen furniture, even information kiosks.

There are a few new ways to test products, but there are even more new ways to make errors based on inexperience. How natural should the product testing experience be? Should it be tested unidentified, identified or both? What is the best sampling approach? How will the product be prepared? How should it be stored and for how long? What is the best test method? Where is the research to be conducted? What levels of accuracy are required?

To design the right methodology and achieve reliable results, Gadd will help clarify objectives of the tests and how the data and analysis will be used. There is too much at stake to leave product testing to a novice. Call Gadd first.


Packaging Research

We undertake a lot of packaging research using standardized tests and customized approaches, for numerous well-known brands. We have tested packaging in focus groups, IDI, surveys on shelves, in dummied up stores, online, 3D, in virtual stores, with t-scope flashing images and eye-tracking. Emerging technologies include EEG and biometrics.

Caution: Online Research & Virtual Stores

A potential difficulty with online research and virtual stores is that the packaging can look different on different computers because of different settings. That carefully chosen shade of yellow can look green. Lighting can make a big difference with results. A sleek pack can look anything but sleek and stylish. A tactile feel or shine is sometimes impossible to appreciate. Many of the elements on the packaging – the word mark, the logo, the product descriptors, the messaging – may be difficult to see or read online. On the other hand, some products will mostly be sold online and should therefore be tested there.

Designing Packaging Tests

The most appropriate method for testing depends on the stimuli to be tested – its look and feel – and the research objectives. We like to observe subjects when they are exposed to stimuli. We like to see their facial expressions and body language, listen for tone of voice, enthusiasm or coolness, descriptions of product expectations.

It can be useful in stores to observe customers shopping the category; where they go, in what order, what they look at, for how long, what they decide to buy. It can help to interview the store-owner, manager or store clerk. It can also be useful to employ consumer diaries, or have participants submit images of what they find interesting in-stores or online. This provides insight as to what is noticed, what stands out, gets attention, and achieves conversions.

The bottom line with packaging research is that you want to be sure your tests accurately and fully evaluate a given design and the reasons behind the responses to it, before it is rejected or modified. Too often a design is completely eliminated, when a small tweak could have improved a package that was created by a highly competent designer. Or on the other hand, testing can be rushed and seen as obligatory rather than useful, allowing a pretty box to be accepted, that completely contradicts brand strategy and results in an extremely expensive product failure. Call Gadd and get the right test for the full story on what works and does not work with your package design.