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At Northstar, we describe ourselves as a full service global boutique; able to deliver large, multi-market studies with the creativity, enthusiasm and attention to detail expected from a smaller agency.

We use qualitative and quantitative methods to deliver best in class insight + best in class insight communication. By thinking creatively, we increase levels of participant engagement to reveal more of what you need to know. And by thinking differently, we increase levels of engagement within your organisation. This makes stakeholders listen to, and action, insight, increasing the value insight delivers.

80% of our projects are international, multi-market studies. We are experts in conducting research and interpreting insight anywhere from Surbiton to Shenzhen. To do this we have a dedicated and enthusiastic team from varied educational backgrounds - linguistics, statistics, design, marketing, sociology, business management, engineering, politics and psychology. This allows us to generate diverse methodologies, be analytically robust and visually creative.

Northstar also collaborates with experts, academics and media commentators across our various research fields, giving us a more informed perspective. Additionally, we regularly attend and speak at industry conferences and events, sharing our methodological and sector knowledge and keeping up to date with industry developments. We also run our own series of knowledge sharing events, ‘Beneath the Surface’.

The impact of our work has been consistently recognised by the market research industry. In 2019, we won the Bronze ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award and were shortlisted as one the MRS's Global Agencies of the Year. We have won, or been nominated for, industry awards every year since 2012. This includes awards for: Insight Management, Research Innovation, International Research, Best Young Researcher and Qualitative Excellence.

Automotive, Drinks (Alcoholic), Drinks (Non-alcoholic), Fashion/Clothing, Finance/Investment – Business, Finance/Investment – Personal, FMCG – General, Food, Information Technology, Non-Profit, Online, Retail, Tobacco, Transportation, Travel/Tourism, Wellness/Fitness
Advanced Statistical Techniques, Consultancy, Continuous, Creative development research, Data Mining, Depth Interviews, Ethnography, Gamification, Group Discussions/Focus Groups, Hall Tests, Multivariate Stats and Modelling, Online Communities, Online Surveys, Qualitative, Quantitative, Questionnaire Design, Tracking, Volumetrics
Advertising, Brand/Branding, Business-to-Business, Communications/PR, Concept Testing, Consumer, Data Analytics, International, New Product Development, Packaging/Design, Pricing, Product Testing, Usage & Attitude
Affluent, Digital Consumers, Hard-to-Reach, High Net Worth, Kids, Youth/Teens
Senior Contacts

Jeff Johns (Research Director)
Jack Miles (Senior Research Director)
Rhiannon Price (Head of Qualitative Research)
Matthew Sell (Chief Operating Officer)
James Vaughan-Smith (Operations Director)
Simon von Haartman (Deputy Managing Director)

Breakdown of Personnel

Admin/Support staff: 2
Executive/Research staff: 21
Total Number of Employees: 21 to 50


Unit B3
City Cloisters
196 Old Street
Tel: +44 (0)20 7824 9870
Fax: +44 (0)20 7730 6303
Establishment date: 2000

International Address

Northstar Research, Inc.
18 King St E.
Suite 1500
Toronto, Ontario
M5C 1C4
Tel: +1 416 907 7100

Northstar Research (USA)
160 Varick Street, 3rd floor
Suite 1630
New York, New York
Tel: +1 212 986 4077

The Respondent Reimagined

Northstar, in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology at the LSE, developed a methodology that re-examines the traditional role of the respondent as passive participant.

With the help of 18 local World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) ‘agents’, this research was successfully completed in Malaysia, Madagascar, Oman, Poland and St Vincent and the Grenadines, and was also able to deliver on a secondary client objective to equip WAGGGS staff with the skills and materials necessary to roll out the research in further markets when budget allows.

Research findings were presented to and endorsed by the global leadership group in London, and Northstar were invited to present the unique methodology and recommendations for adoption at the Hong Kong world conference, attended by 145 member countries.

Vision 2020 commits WAGGGS to finding ways to ensure all girls and young women are valued and take action to change the world. This means, globally, WAGGGS need to reach more girls and young women. Currently WAGGGS reach less than 1%.

Delivering a study that could be applicable across the 145 countries WAGGGS currently operate in, within the tight budget of a not-for-profit organisation, required a full scale re-evaluation of our approach to international research.


The scale of the challenge was immense. In early discussions with the membership development team (MDT) we examined five factors in order to select a manageable number of representative markets in which to conduct the research:

•            Rationality: WAGGGS have created a zonal map of the world corresponding to broad regions rather than continents. The study needed to include a market from every region.

•            Language and faith: With sensitivities to an ‘English speaker’ skew in the Girl Guide movement, the study needed to include non-English speaking markets, as well as ‘non-Christian’ markets to signal that girl guiding is open and welcoming to all faith denominations.

•            Membership levels: The study needed to include markets with a sustained high membership level and those with lower membership levels.

•            Growth rate: The study needed to account for markets that were growing and declining in membership.

•            Delivery model: The study needed to include markets with varied service delivery methods, either through schools, faith groups or other means.

Based on analysis of market data and internal discussion, the five markets identified on the above basis were Malaysia, Oman, Madagascar, Poland and St Vincent & Grenadines.


One of the key requirements for WAGGGS was to ensure the transfer of skills to staff and volunteers through the course of the project. This would ensure that WAGGGS would have the skills to scale up the study to multiple additional markets through 2014-15.

The training materials had to be designed in a way that would be self-explanatory to future users, particularly those with low levels of English comprehension and research savviness.


With the above geographical scale and objectives in mind, there were several project constraints.

Budget constraints ruled out the following:

•            International travel

•            Multi-market video conferencing

•            Commissioning local recruitment agencies, professional moderators or panel providers

•            Researching more than one market per region


Working collaboratively with doctoral candidates at the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and members of the faculty, we designed an approach to conduct more dynamic research that gave more control to the respondents as research ‘agents’, helping inform our research design, fieldwork and analysis.

With the help of WAGGGS MDT, Northstar shortlisted a ‘cohort of agents’ in each of the five participating markets from among WAGGGS members. 

Each agent was provided with:

•            An introduction session: An orientation to the study’s objectives

•            Detailed training sessions (and study materials): To equip agents with the necessary skills to recruit, interview, record and report

•            Access to simulation exercises: To practice the skills learned in mock interview settings with feedback provided

•            Northstar also set up a helpline that could be used to give guidance throughout the project

All of this was achieved using Skype, and telephone briefing sessions.

The cohort of 18 English speaking local agents helped execute a methodology that included, qualitatively:

•            10 x roundtables, 2 per market, with parents of members and non-members aged 5-10 years

•            30 x in depth interviews, 6 per market, with current members, lapsed members, non-members and members of other youth organisations aged 11-19 years

Quantitatively, agents administered a 20 minute survey to 1500 current, lapsed, potential and uninvolved members and volunteers across all markets.


Recognising challenges differed from market to market, Northstar made recommendations in three categories that could be prioritised according to market needs:

•            Advancement of volunteerism

•            Development of membership drivers

•            Optimising pathways to membership

Outcomes thus far include the acceptance of the following recommendations for implementation at a global level:

•            The recommendation of an online channel was adopted by the central leadership for future roll out, with the potential to:

o            Increase interaction between members from different countries, Increase access to WAGGGS membership; currently there is seen to be an urban bias in terms of membership and presence of WAGGGS, an online channel could help to broaden the reach of the organisation

o            Help create a modern and relevant image for WAGGGS

•            Attributing ‘Value for Time’ was accepted as a key measure for future programmes.

o            The most common single reason for volunteer and member attrition from WAGGGS is that it ‘took too much of my time’ (volunteers 38%, members 20%).

•            The creation of a ‘certification regime’ for better job market prospects was accepted as a key measure for future volunteer programmes.


We presented the findings to the leadership group in London in March 2014.

•            Thirty senior representatives from the global business attended, including delegates from the African, EU and Arab regions.

•            Leading delegates also joined this session virtually/online from other regions of the world (Asia, Australia, US and Canada).

We presented the unique methodology at the world conference in July 2014. This was attended by WAGGGS delegates from 145 member countries. During this conference the work of the 18 WAGGGS ‘agents’ were also recognised and applauded.

Source: Winner of MRS International Research Award 2014

"Northstar's innovative research approach gave us key ways forward that, in concert with strong creative direction, helped us deliver the strongest exhibition attendance for over 50 years!"

- Claire Clutterbuck, Head of Audience Insight at Royal Academy of Arts

 "Northstar's international research experience was of crucial importance in the conception, exectution and analysis of our award-winning study" 

 - Natalia Plou, Global Membership Manager at World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)

 "Northstar are unique in their ability to use visualisation to help drive insights more deeply into our business"

- Steve Hill, Customer Insight Manager at Jaguar Land Rover 

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