Website under renovation…

Following a crash, our website is limping along until it can be repaired. While most of the pertinent information about illuminate is here, the formatting is messed up and a couple of links lead to blank pages. We’re working on it!

Did you really mean to include an 88 year old man?

My father-in-law called me last night saying he had received an invitation to respond to an online survey. He was wondering if the people who issued the invite really wanted to hear the opinions of an 88 year old man. I assured him he should respond to the survey and his opinions would represent those of a smaller proportion of the sample population – an important responsibility! But then I started wondering if those who had set up the sample parameters really had meant to include an 88 year old or if it was a matter of sloppy sampling – as in, “let’s sample everybody 18 and over.”

Don’t get me wrong, I also dislike sampling that is too targeted based on someone’s (possibly misguided) assumptions over who actually uses the product. Inclusivity, or a general population sample, definitely have their places when trying to determine the marketing target for a new brand of toothpaste for example, but other products or services call for a more tailored approach. Consider a label test for wine. Women drink more wine than men, but does this mean we should exclude men? Probably not, since the heaviest wine users are actually baby boomer males. Historically, wine was typically a drink for those closer to 30 than for those who had just turned 21. But, this demographic is shifting. How do we know? By being more inclusive in our sampling. If the wine industry had continued to target their heaviest users – male, baby boomers – they would have missed the rising tide of wine-drinking millenials.

So, I guess what I am saying is, we should all give a bit more consideration to who is included in our survey targets. Are they the people who actually use the product or is there something about their demographic that precludes them from using it – age, gender, income – whatever might bump them out of the marketing target? If not, then including them in the sample will provide us with a better picture of the entire market and will help identify shifts in behavior, such as the increase in wine consumption by millenials.

Why was our last blog post in April 2011?

We’ve been busy. And our blog has been overlooked; shoved to the bottom of the “to do” pile over and over. Since we write for a living you wouldn’t think writer’s block would be an issue, but in a way it has. Do we have anything interesting to say? Will other people read it? Like it?

Fall always seems to me to be time for new beginnings – sharpened pencils and new lunchboxes, new teachers and new friends. We hope to be a new source of enlightenment on a variety of topics related to market research. Following a recent Branding Bootcamp with Maria Ross of Red Slice (, Debora and I put together a list of topics we plan to cover in upcoming blog posts – everything from marketing research blunders to whether you can use a self-service marketing research survey platform (those might be related mightn’t they?). We plan to post regularly – at least once a month, perhaps more frequently. There are some interesting things going on in the world of marketing research (yes, really!) and we hope to explore them with you.

Lights Out at TRD, Lights On at illuminate!

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new company name, illuminate.  After 25 successful years, Webb Green is officially turning over the helm to long-time TRD veterans Debora Scott and Katherine Hobbs. Together, they plan to carry the TRD tradition of excellent service forward into a third decade.

So Why Change Our Name?

Given that TRD has been a well-known and respected name in research, the decision to change our name to illuminate was not taken lightly.  TRD stands for The Research Department, which in our early days accurately described our role.  Many companies were eliminating their internal research departments and so we filled the vacuum by providing full-service research services, without traditional overhead.  However, as the world has evolved during the past 25 years, so have we.

Today, the need to provide cost-efficient research solutions has never been more important.  But, not just any research solutions.  In this economy, it’s not enough to go with just another research supplier, selling research methodologies.  Companies today need a true research partner – someone whose role goes beyond selling services, developing surveys, crunching numbers and moderating focus groups.  Instead, they need a research partner who is an astute strategist.  One who can clarify, refine and translate broad marketing objectives into actionable research plans.  One who can efficiently execute the plan, and then look beyond the numbers to uncover the unexpected “nuggets” that shed light on and clarify the appropriate marketing strategy.  This has always been our mission, and our new name offers us a chance to refocus our commitment to bring clarity and illumination to each and every client we work with.  In short, our new name speaks to what we strive to do.

What Else Is Changing?

With our new name comes a new website and new email addresses.  Our phone number isn’t changing and otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual.  We are proud of our 25 year heritage and are energized and excited to begin this new chapter in our company’s history.

We highly value our research partnerships, and look forward to forging new connections.


Debora Scott and Katherine Hobbs, Principals

illuminate Market Research and Planning