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Mustard exists to help clients make better, more informed decisions, faster. We believe research investment should deliver ROI. Our services help clients to make money, save money, reduce risk, improve products / services / communications or deliver a social return on investment.

We live and breathe our values. Our business philosophy is “Making the Difference” and is underpinned by four core beliefs:

1. Making it easy: delivering a seamless, hassle-free, quality service.

2. Fingers-on-the-pulse: we are in-the-know and at the forefront of what we do.

3. Commercial thinking: combining immersion, intelligence and realism.

4. Passionate people: enthusiastic and always switched on.

We conduct research across sectors including (but not limited to) financial services, retail, food/drink/FMCG, leisure, b2b, building/construction, education, public services, technology, professional services, charities, social housing, healthcare, chemicals and pharma.

We lead the way in developing new techniques for insight capture and dissemination. We excel in online communities. We can deliver a pop-up online community for less than the cost of four focus groups.

Our Pickles app for mobile qualitative has revolutionsied our ability to capture real-time, real-life insight cost effectively.

Our business was born from delivering brand and customer satisfaction tracking and benchmarking. Today our specialisms include:

1. Branding, brand perceptions and brand tracking (including the Brand Alignment Monitor)

2. Customer satisfaction, customer journey, customer experience

3. Segmentation

4. Innovation - using our POPCORN methodology

5. Product / Service / Communications / Concept testing and development

6. Stakeholder engagement

7. Advanced analytics (our specialist sister company - Honeycomb - launched in 2018)

Accountancy, Automotive, Charities/Voluntary, Chemicals, Drinks (Alcoholic), Drinks (Non-alcoholic), Education/Training, Engineering, Entertainment – in home, Entertainment – out of home, Fashion/Clothing, Finance/Investment – Business, Finance/Investment – Personal, FMCG – General, Food, Gambling/Online Gaming, Government/Local Authority, Healthcare, Industrial, Insurance, Legal, Office Equipment, Pets/Petcare, Property/Construction/Housing, Retail, Sport/Leisure/Arts, Toiletries/Beauty Products, Travel/Tourism
Advanced Statistical Techniques, CATI, Co-creation, Consultancy, Continuous, Depth Interviews, Desk Research, Ethnography, Executive/Industrial Interviews, Face-to-Face, Group Discussions/Focus Groups, Hall Tests, In-Store Interviews, Mobile Web Surveys, Multivariate Stats and Modelling, Observation, Online Communities, Online Surveys, Qualitative, Quantitative, Questionnaire Design, Telephone Interviewing, Tracking
Advertising, Brand/Branding, Business-to-Business, Communications/PR, Concept Testing, Consumer, Customer Communities, Customer Satisfaction, Data Analytics, International, New Product Development, Packaging/Design, Product Testing, Social Research, Usage & Attitude
Affluent, College/University Students, Disabled People, Ethnic Minorities, Hard-to-Reach, High Net Worth, Mature/Midlife, Mothers/Parents, Senior Citizens, Unemployed, Welsh speakers, Youth/Teens
UK, Worldwide
Senior Contacts

Colin Auton (Managing Director)
Ian Font (Director)
Gareth Hodgson (Director)
Richard Walker (Director)

Breakdown of Personnel

Admin/Support staff: 2
Executive/Research staff: 14
Non-research: 3
Data processing: 3
Total Number of Employees: 21 to 50


Third Floor
56 Princess Street
M1 6HS
Tel: +44 (0)161 235 5270
Establishment date: 1989

How to Engage Participants through Purpose and Focus

At a recent seminar introducing Postgrad students to the world of market research, I said “of course, the most important group in market research is our research participants”. We often take our participants and their intention to take part in research for granted and I think at that point, I finally gave all of my research participants the acknowledgement they deserved.

But how can we re-centre our work around them so that, ultimately, we deliver better, more powerful stories to our clients? What is the importance of giving our research participants a sense of purpose and engaging them in activities that provide focus and mental flow? Redesigning the research experience into a meaningful one for those we so heavily rely on can be a first step towards showing them our gratitude.

A recent study conducted by Dynata revealed that a key driver for engagement comes from the research activity having value in itself. In other words, the belief that the views people express will make a difference. Interestingly, at a global level around three in ten said that they simply didn’t know whether their contribution would make a change. It is this group that Pete Cape, Global Knowledge Director at Dynata, draws our attention to, and I fully agree, it is their views that we have to shift if we want to have higher levels of engagement.

To start with, providing research participants with a sense of purpose will be key in shifting their views towards the value of research. There are numerous psychological studies that prove how living with purpose is crucial for psychological health. According to Steve Taylor from Psychology Today, it makes us less vulnerable to psychological discord, it makes us feel part of something bigger (thus less focused on our worries and anxieties), it enhances our self-esteem and, ultimately, it gives us hope. So how do we create a sense of purpose for our research participants?

One way of doing this, as Pete Cape also highlights, is giving them more information. How will the client use the research results? How will their opinion make a difference? How will they help change their environment for the better? We often say that we are limited by the commercially sensitive nature of our work or that we don’t want to bias their views, but is that really the case all the time? We have a responsibility towards our research participants to provide them with as many relevant details as we can on how their work will have impact in the grand scheme of things, and to convince them that their views truly matter!

Taking part in research can be a journey of discovery – of brands, of environments, but also of the Self. Focusing on what participants themselves will gain too has great potential to increase the value of research for the individual. What is the benefit for them? What will they learn? How will this experience transform their lives?

It can be as easy as giving them a platform to share their story or telling them more about how transformative this process will be, both outwards and inwards. In her book How to tell your story so the world listens, Bobette Buster writes that ‘each person wants to be heard. We all have a story we want to tell…through stories our true character is revealed, or transformed in the process, like the refining away of the dross in order to make gold’.

Very often, when moderating online communities, I receive comment from participants reminding me of how transformative research can be:

“I’m really enjoying the ‘smoking’ online community. It’s great being able to see everyone’s opinions and it’s great to be able to put across my own. Everyone is so supportive! Thanks so much for putting me forward for it!”

Creating this sense of purpose can have multiple advantages – it’s not only a powerful hook, but also an effective filter, allowing on board those who are engaged and interested, beyond the monetary value. This can be the first step towards better engagement, but what should we do once they start the research process, eager and excited to be making a difference?

A recent study conducted by Quirks into what other activities people do when completing surveys found that, overall, around 4 in 10 don’t engage in any other activity. However, they also found that 41% usually watch TV, 7% visit other websites, 5% are working, 4% are on the go, 3% are cooking or eating, and 2% are talking with friends, family or roommates. So, all in all, 62% of research participants are not just participating in your research, they’re doing other stuff at the same time too. According to Betty Adamou, founder of Research through Gaming and author of Games and Gamification for Market Research, “if people are not really engaged, they’re not really thinking about what they are saying in surveys.”

These findings suggest that we might need to review the way we conduct research. But how should we do that? Should we change our research design to make it fit with a multi-tasking lifestyle, or should we keep innovating our research techniques in order to get participants in a state of focus? As MacElroy mentioned, engagement comes from the latter, and I fully agree.

Knowing this, I believe we owe it to our participants to continue to innovate and make our surveys fun, exciting and interesting so that they stay with us until the end, give well thought responses and keep coming back for more. Equally, when strategic decisions rely on the responses given by research participants, we owe it to our clients too!

I strongly believe that creating a sense of purpose and a research experience that enables focus and creativity has enormous potential to turn participants into active, engaged agents of change, who want to tell their stories because they truly matter! In a world driven by the quest for meaningful experiences, it can also be an authentic way to tell them ‘thank you’Source: ESOMAR, Research World

“We have saved in excess of £2million throughout this year by introducing the new switch functionality. The number of customers saved is in excess of 1,500. An average saving per policy has been calculated at £1,100.”

Aviva UK Life

“Brilliant to see an instant reaction to the new Carlsberg Export advert when it aired. Unprompted and in situ responses provide an extra dimension when we talk to both customers and colleagues about the evaluation of the advert. Great and innovative way to approach research on-the-fly!”

Carlsberg UK

“Mustard were able to distil a large amount of observational research into a succinct set of customer needs which they communicated in a clear yet insightful way.”

GE Healthcare

The research Mustard conducted for us recently was excellent. They brought fresh thinking to the table in their proposal and delivered an insightful piece which has been very well received by stakeholders”


“The Mustard team build a great rapport with the participants and are like-minded people- fun and easy to work with.”

Tangle Teezer

“BrightHouse’s partnership with Mustard has helped develop improved category decisions, more focused advertising creative and influenced the financial model strategy.”


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