Archive for the ‘Case Study – Social Research’ Category

Archive for the ‘Case Study – Social Research’ Category

Customer Research – Mixed Methodology

Background

Mackman Research was commissioned by Eastern IFCA to conduct a benchmark awareness survey to understand stakeholder awareness and engagement, across Eastern IFCAís three counties (Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk). In particular, assessing the role that Eastern IFCA has in the coastal community and measuring the level of understanding for Eastern IFCAís change of emphasis towards sustainability as well as their requirement to balance social and economic benefits of sea fisheries against exploitation. Eastern IFCA needed the research to inform them about how well they are doing to meet these objectives, and also to identify where they need to target their engagement activities in the future. They also wanted the research to create a set of bench mark measurements against which Eastern IFCA can show progress.

Approach

To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used a mixed approach using a combination of an online survey (by email), telephone survey and face to face interviews for the more difficult to reach populations. Within each main stakeholders group we identified sub-user groups which shared the same attributes and characteristics of the key stakeholder group. Because of this, we recommended the project employ a random stratified methodology. All surveys were anonymous and respondents were notified of this.

Each sub-group were contacted by an email address (if supplied) and by telephone if a number was available. The online survey was ëliveí over the course of two and a half weeks. During this time, three reminder emails were sent. Telephone contacts were sent a letter from Eastern IFCA informing them of the awareness survey and that a researcher from Mackman would be calling. The telephone survey lasted approximately six minutes with a Mackman researcher. Several respondents asked for the survey to be emailed and were sent a ëliveí link to the online version of the questionnaire. The face to face interviews took place over two days. The fieldwork crucially needed to consider the weather and the tides. Fieldwork took place in Southwold / Aldeburgh and the North Norfolk stretch of coastline between Cley next the Sea and Cromer, respectively. A paper version of the survey was used to question members of the public at all of these locations. Participation was monitored and when one group was found to have a low response rate, more contacts from this grouping where sought.

219 respondents completed the online and telephone survey, achieving a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/-6.6%, from a population of 528. In addition to this, 64 face to face qualitative interviews were conducted during the fieldwork stage

Results

The awareness research has been valuable to Eastern IFCA and assisted the government organisation in targeting their future engagement activities. To help Eastern IFCA accomplish this, Mackman Research considered the coastal users' level of understanding and ratings for Eastern IFCA priorities. The research identified areas for improved communication and the importance of reaching out to hard to reach populations. The investigation has also helped Eastern IFCA think about their broader marketing and how how they can expand their current offering to members of the public and the fishing community.

 

 

 

Eastern IFCA survey screen example

Eastern IFCA survey screen example

 

 

 

 

 

Social Research – Face To Face Interviews

Background

Mackman Research was commissioned by Chelmsford City Council in Essex to research the use of parks and gardens, specifically by families on low incomes and minority groups. They also wanted to explore what would change behaviour. These findings would inform future Council campaigns which aim to get more people to use the parks and gardens. Chelmsford City Council were looking for an innovative and bespoke methodology and were open to Mackman Research challenging their brief and testing the theory that low income groups are definitely low users of the parks and gardens. Gemma, Mackman’s Research Director, proposed an approach which checked this assumed theory out and came up with a methodology which kicked off with an audit. The results from this first study would inform the second part of the research brief (‘what would help change the behaviour of these groups’).

When it came to choosing a methodology, Chelmsford City Council needed a robust sample which would represent the population of the City (They made it clear that they would be wary of making a decision based on a number of small focus groups). Therefore it was important Mackman Research design a methodology which was statistically sound, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Part of the research design involved defining what a ‘low income’ is; Mackman Research helped define this in collaboration with Chelmsford City Council. This definition had to take in to account the unprecedented economic conditions.

Gemma designed a research process which was split into two phases. The first phase sought to audit all City Council run parks and gardens in a bid to discover who was using the parks; how frequently and for what purpose they were using the parks. Participants were asked where they lived and how they travelled to parks. Demographic questions were also asked during this phase, including participant’s disposable income. The results of the first phase informed the second phase of the research and gave way to direct targeting of Chelmsford residents in areas of deprivation (likely to be of low educational attainment) (see below).

Approach

Mackman Research used a mixed methodology approach which combined quantitative statistical representation (of the local population) with qualitative data gathering methods. Our researchers approached all participants on a face-to-face basis and interviewed a total of 816 respondents. All surveys were anonymous and participants were notified of this.

The data gathering process was split into 2 phases. The 1st phase set out to record who was using each park and test the theory of low-income non-users. The phase 1 survey population contained 445 respondents. This figure achieved a 95% confidence level and a +/- 4.64% confidence interval, based upon a total Chelmsford city population of 162,000. Following this audit stage, we were able to identify profile gaps in the users of Chelmsford parks. From the data it was clear that low income families were using the parks and gardens and the number of park users with a disability and from a minority group were also representative of the Chelmsford population.

Whilst it was evident that there were fewer unemployed park users than employed and fewer users with low educational qualifications, low educational achievers came through as major non-users of the parks and therefore it was valid for Mackman to have challenged the theory that low income and minority groups were considered the main group who weren’t using the parks.

As a result, and according to the research methodology, phase 2 directly targeted those who are not using parks and gardens and investigated barriers to park use. Data gathering commenced face-to-face at the Job Centre and Benefits Office and door-to-door with areas known for a high proportion of unemployed residents. During this stage, data collection was targeted to specific geographical areas of deprivation. 371 respondents completed the phase 2 questionnaire, achieving a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/-5%, of a low-income Chelmsford city population of 9,500. In addition, a request was sent from Chelmsford City Council to the Council Community Coordinator to reach neighbourhood groups in North West Chelmsford. Attendees at the Wisdom Group (held every Monday morning for older, vulnerable / lonely people) completed the questionnaire in paper format.

Results

The parks research has been invaluable to the City Council and is thought to be the first of its kind within the UK. This original piece of research has helped identify areas for improvement and informed marketing to help raise awareness of the parks and gardens, encouraging more of Chelmsford’s residents to enjoy the wonderful parks close to them. The unparalleled knowledge that low educational achievers were a target group to encourage in to using the parks of Chelmsford, was a main driver for the Council’s projects and practices going forward. Thus, this research was central to the Council’s strategy for parks and green spaces in Chelmsford. Among a number of aims this strategy looked at, community involvement and participation in planning, opportunities to improve security, reduce fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, opportunities to improve facilities and create new spaces, increasing the range of activities, supporting biodiversity and enhancing the natural environment. At the heart of this was the acknowledgement that parks and green spaces provide quality of life, and these areas are the “lungs” within the urban environment. The Green Flag Award® Scheme recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country and recognises “the many benefits that good quality parks and green spaces can provide in enhancing people’s quality of life and creating decent, attractive places where people want to live, work and play. That is why they form part of the [Government’s] programme to build stronger, more sustainable communities now and in the future.” *

The parks research was put forward by Chelmsford City Council to the annual Government Business Awards, which encourage and reward effective business practice in the public sector. The project won the top prize for Market Research.

In August 2013, Chelmsford City Council secured the highest number of Green Flag Awards in the Eastern region, with ten awards for the quality of its parks. In addition, the city received a number of Green Heritage and Green Flag Community Awards.

*Yvette Cooper, Minister for Regeneration – The Green Flag Award Guidance Manual

Mackman researchers - Chelmsford parks and gardens audit