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Breaking Blue is a full service market insight agency. We inspire organisations to make important decisions by shining a light on the big picture and the details that matter.

Which is why we're trusted research partners to so many leading organisations in the UK and across the globe.

Chemicals, Energy, Engineering, FMCG – General, Healthcare, Industrial, Information Technology, Retail, Telecommunications, Transportation
Deliberative Research, Diary Studies, Ethnography, Executive/Industrial Interviews, Eye Tracking, Gamification, Group Discussions/Focus Groups, Online Communities, Qualitative, Quantitative
Analytics, Brand/Branding, Business-to-Business, Customer Satisfaction, Emerging Markets, Employee Research, New Product Development, Pricing, Product Testing, Usage & Attitude
Affluent, Digital Consumers, Ethnic Minorities, Hard-to-Reach, High Net Worth, Hispanic Markets, Indian, Kids, Senior Citizens, Youth/Teens
Africa, Central Asia, Central Europe, Middle East, Northern/Western Europe, Russia, South America, UK, USA, Worldwide
Senior Contacts

Kate Anderson (Managing Director)
Niall Baker (Research Director)
Rachel Cope (Research Director)
Kate Downer (Research Director)

Breakdown of Personnel

Admin/Support staff: 6
Executive/Research staff: 42
Non-research: 4
Data processing: 8
Spec writers: 2
Total Number of Employees: 51 to 100


11-13 Charterhouse Buildings
Tel: +44 (0)20 7627 7700
Establishment date: 1984

22 Montrose Street
G1 1RE
Tel: +44 (0)345 130 4576
Establishment date: 1984

International Addresses

Breaking Blue
3955 N. Paulina
IL 60657 
Tel: +00 1844 815 8713

When will we wake up to the need to transform the online survey?

In recent years there’s been a lot of attention among insight professionals on the need to engage online research participants to address declining response rates and the risk of poor quality data.   The number of people available through online panels has plateaued, and we are seeing co-operation and completion rates plummet.  This raises real concerns about the representativeness of survey participants who are recruited from online panels.  The implication is bad data for clients, and there is no doubt that the reputation of online surveys is in decline as clients seek different sources of insight from observational approaches and greater use of “Big Data”.

Gamification as a method of transforming the survey experience is not a new idea.  There are companies who, with deserved success, specialise in gaming approaches – but it’s fair to say that this remains something of a niche area.  All the big panel companies we work with tell us that 9 out of 10 surveys they send out are not optimised for engagement, with the survey experience worlds apart from people’s more typical experience online.  And surveys sent out to clients’ own customers are no better – indeed arguably worse as many are scripted by those who are not accustomed to put themselves in the shoes of those who complete their surveys.

To Game or not to GameRecently at the Market Research Summit in London I described an experiment to examine the impact of visualisation and of gamification on a global survey about printer ink.  If you’re interested you can find the full paper here.

The experiment left us in no doubt that survey visualisation, with a fewer other simple tricks such as timed tasks, gives us better data and our participants a better experience.  This is not a new insight – all we did was show that it is equally valid for all types of survey.  The impact of better survey engagement was first described seven years ago – so why are 9 out of 10 online surveys still so boring?

We seem to have got out of the habit of putting ourselves in our respondent’s shoes. We must stop believing that everyone is as interested in our category as we are, and will happily spend 20 minutes or more filling out a lot of grey grids on the topic.

Furthermore, the research industry has been its’ own worst enemy.  We’ve taught our clients that online research is cheap and quick, and in the search for ever cheaper, ever quicker, we’ve lost the ability to really think about what we are doing.   Fortunately however, if we really get behind this new approach there’s no reason why it should cost a lot more, nor take much longer than a standard survey.

2201-1390With tracking studies in particular there is always the possibility of data discontinuity when any aspect of the methodology is changed.

However that’s not sufficient reason to continue with bad practice.  Nothing in business lasts forever.  Over time many trackers migrated from face-to-face interviewing to telephone, and then from telephone to online.  In the same way trackers should change from boring to engaging survey design – calibration is always an option for those for whom continuity is fundamental.

Our experiment shows how gamification can have more of an impact on engagement than visualisation alone.  A fully gamified survey can be made integral to the survey theme, with gaming rewards being linked to full and thoughtful answers – and there’s plenty of evidence that this can be highly impactful.

We found that gamification impacts more on enjoyment and engagement in more “burnt out” markets and, we suspect, in over-researched categories.  Engagement will certainly become more important the more surveys people take, and there is a growing need to be ever more different, ever more creative rather than relying on visualisation alone. The need for gamification can only increase.

Gamification faces the same barriers as visualisation, but in addition we are only just starting to understand how best to go about it and exactly what will and will not work in different situations. It’s vital to keep on experimenting and not forget that very useful tool that’s too much overlooked these days – namely the pilot survey. 

We’ve taken a step-change to the way we carry out online research. Visualised and engaging surveys are the norm for us, not an additional option.   So that we can do this within the cost and time parameters that the market expects, we’ve developed a suite of question types that we know will work, and that can quickly be adapted to any specific survey context.  We’ve also made all of our surveys method-neutral so that they will work on any type of device. Finally we’re recognising that even with better surveys we need to be respectful of respondents’ time, so we are making every effort that each survey is not a minute longer than it needs to be.

We urge all those involved in carrying out or using online research to do the same – for the sake of our industry as well as yourselves.

Source: Breaking Blue

ORR "…I just want to thank you all for your hard work over the last year. It’s been a pleasure to work with you on what was both a challenging yet very rewarding project. I believe we more than delivered on what we had hoped for at the outset…”Accenture “We are very impressed with the entire service provided. From your responsiveness, to your creative input into the survey design, to your flexibility, to your regular updates and excellent client liaison, the quality of interviews and research output, I could not have asked for more. It is really a pleasure to work with Breaking Blue.”

The Chamberlain Group "“Breaking Blue has been one of the few true partners I've had the pleasure to work with in my career. Not only do they have a great knowledge in traditional and recent research methodologies, but their team of skilled consultants work hand-in-hand to design and execute nearly flawlessly to achieve our global research objectives. No matter the locale or scope of the program, they find a way to get it done. 

BB's consultants are able and willing to meet tight timelines and provide deep insights into the work they've been commissioned to do. You know the saying, 'you get what you pay for', Breaking Blue may seem to be higher priced than traditional research firms, but the result is definitely worth the price.”"

Deutsche Post - DHL “The quality of work that BB produces for us is always high, even when working towards extremely tight deadlines. What is particularly impressive is their attitude - they are very flexible both in the way they work with us and in the way they answer research problems.”

Canon Europe “We've been working with Breaking Blue for several years now using different types of research. Throughout, we could always rely on BB' professional attitude, quick response and willingness to go the extra mile. In the analysis and final presentation phases they really add value with their knowledge and experience of the industry.

HP “The rare ability to understand the details but to also understand how the research fits into the big picture market and business trends”

Transport for Greater Manchester “I've been impressed over the years by Breaking Blue's, and in particular Rachel's, commitment to providing high quality qualitative and quantitative research services and offering good overall value for money.”

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