March 2014
Vol. 13, Number 2

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

QuickTips: I ♥ My Credit Card Benefits

Joan Treistman,

Editor’s Note: QuickTips is a new monthly feature that provides members with quick and easy (and cheap or free) ways of becoming more successful, more efficient, and happier (maybe all three!) in their professional and personal lives. Give us your favorite shortcuts! Email Judy Langer at

It’s worth finding out which credit cards offer valuable travel benefits. The top or platinum level on the major cards costs a little more but also gives you a lot more. For example, I use mine to spend time in airline clubs around the world. I only need to show my card and the boarding pass for that airline. It adds stress-free time to a trip, tasty nibbles from time to time, and peace and quiet; and saves on costly membership fees for individual clubs. Some cards eliminate the cost of baggage fees for all or at least some trips.

And there are other credit card Concierge benefits that are less apparent. For example, when a flight delay meant my adult daughter was stranded at Heathrow one New Year’s Eve, the Concierge helped me cheer her up. We had a teddy bear delivered to her hotel room before midnight. On another occasion when I was out of town and used all my cash for an emergency, I needed more cash quickly. My bank’s ATMs were out of order because of an outage in their headquarters. The credit card Concierge kept me on the phone while she found a source for me and made the arrangements. All I had to do was wait another 10 minutes and walk across the street to pick up my money. There was no charge for these services.

Back to Top




Personal Connections

Michelle Finzel,

A New Addition to the QRCA Family

Jill Matthews and husband Eric are proud to announce the birth of Zane Alex Matthews. Zane was born on November 25, 2013, weighing 8 lbs, 5 oz.

Introducing Zane Alex Matthews

Big brother Blake & big sister Mara are thrilled to welcome him to the family as well.

Jill is a QRC with Bright Cactus, based in Dallas, TX. Congratulations, Jill!

Jay Zaltzman Gets Creative

Jay Zaltzman,

My partner Kurt and I and four other friends in Palm Springs recently formed the Palm Springs Center for Creativity. I haven’t left the world of qualitative research, but this is a fun side project. We’re planning to offer creative retreats for corporations – taking advantage of Palm Springs’ appeal as well as the range of creative talents in our group and in Palm Springs overall.

As our initial promotional event, we presented “Modern with a Twist” during Palm Springs Modernism Week in February. We gave five pecha kucha presentations. (Each presentation has exactly 20 slides lasting 20 seconds each, for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds, which I learned about at the AQR/QRCA joint conference in Prague). I served as the emcee, and the five other members of our group each gave a presentation that included a twisted take on mid-century modernism. For example, Kurt’s presentation asked why people love mid-century design but hate mid-century food (Jello mold, anyone?). Debra talked about the failure of the Futuro House: “because if it’s got the future in the name, it probably isn’t.”

The audience loved the presentations, and then I led a discussion using the “forced connections” technique I learned at CPSI. Check us out at

Jay getting twisted


Walking on Water: A Luminous Night of Frozen Minnesota Magic

Valerie Esqueda,

ORCA MN Chapter members Jeff Walkowski and Valerie Esqueda were two of the 7,000 hearty souls who turned out to brave the single digit weather on the evening of February 1 for the Annual Luminary Loppet.  

This event takes days of preparation, as Lake of the Isles is transformed into a three-mile ice candle-lit loop of frozen wintery wonder. People of all ages and all walks of life took to the ice on foot, sled, cross country skies or any other way they deemed fitting.  Both first-time participants, neither one of us had ever seen anything like it!  

In addition to literally thousands of ice candles lighting the way, there were also amazing ice sculptures, fire dancers, an enchanted “Icecropolis” forest, and bonfires where people could gather round to warm up, drink hot chocolate and enjoy the company of fellow winter frolickers.  

The festivities continued into the night with an after party – music, dancing, hot chocolate and of course, Minnesota-made Surly Beer! It was the perfect end to a breathtaking and incredibly enchanting experience. Although this has been one long, hard winter, leave it to Minnesotans to make the most of it and celebrate!

Ice candles light up the night.

Photo by Peter Thorpe

Luminous signs guide your way in the frozen night.
Photo courtesy of mcblogsblog

Back to Top


New Member Interview: Nancy Serbin, Cherry Hill, NJ

Mike Courtney,

Here I am with my family in California. I’m second from the left.


I'm guessing you were born young. What is your earliest memory?

Most of my childhood memories are kind of foggy, but I do vividly recall a summer evening ritual I loved as a kid growing up in Dayton, Ohio. Many people who were kids in the early '60s will have the same memory. Every summer evening I would rush through dinner so that I could be ready on my bike at the end of the driveway when I heard the anticipated “PFFT, PFFT, PFFT” and the revolving orange light of the mosquito truck as it rounded my corner releasing plumes of yellow fog off the back of the truck. All the kids on the block would race after it on their bikes trying to get as close as possible to the truck, as that is where the fog was the most dense. We would ride for blocks and blocks becoming invisible within the fog. With all the DDT we inhaled off those trucks, it’s no wonder the rest of my childhood memories are foggy.

Who were you and what did you do before you got into marketing research?

Somehow all of my jobs since college have involved market research. My summer jobs in high school and college were spent working in daycare. I loved and was fascinated by kids. This interest lead me to pursue a degree in developmental psychology. For my Master’s thesis, I stood at the edge of a playground every day for three months during recess and recorded the kids’ interactions. I wrote my thesis on the development of cooperative play. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized what I was doing at the time was ethnography.

What drew you to qualitative research? Did you stumble into the field, or was it your childhood dream to moderate?

Qualitative research found me. My first job out of grad school was to conduct market research for the design department of Fisher Price Toys. Dream job. I didn’t even know what a focus group was. My first week on the job, there I was, flying to California with three prototype dollhouses to gather mothers’ reactions in focus groups. Each week I would take out new prototypes of toys and do either mall intercepts or focus groups. The majority of groups were led by seasoned moderators, so I got to witness lots of different styles and figure out what worked and what didn’t work. It was a great apprenticeship. 

Company and Work

Please tell us about your company, what brought you to this company? Is there a story behind your company name? What’s it like in your office?

I am going to tackle all three of these questions at once. This section will be short because my company is me, and I call it Nancy Serbin. (Please don’t judge my creative abilities based on this. I am actually quite creative.) I work out of my home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with an old, annoying Wheaton Terrier always at my feet.

I worked on the client side of the market research table for 15 years. I went from research to guide the design of dollhouses at Fisher Price to research to design hotel rooms and hotel chains at Marriott. I worked at Marriott during a time of crazy growth. I was part of the small internal development teams that designed and built two brands, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn. We researched everything from design, branding, naming, positioning and cannibalization. The research experience was exciting, but equally exciting was being part of the team and figuring out how we were going to use the information the research gave us. The VP of Marketing used to sit at the table when I was presenting research results and tell me, “I don’t care how you slice it, it’s still boloney.”  Eventually I learned to cut to the chase of the research and figure out what was really going to be important and actionable for my team. Having to help make those internal adjustments – changing design, tactics and messages based on the results of the research – gave me a great perspective on how research is used within a company. This knowledge has served me well in all my contract work.

Tell us about your typical day.

Within my own practice, right now, 75 percent of my work is sub-contracted. I work with other independent researchers or small firms that need help from time to time. I started doing this just to fill in the lulls, but I have found that I actually love doing this work. It has exposed me to all kinds of work, methodologies, and industries that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to any other way. For instance, I never really thought about how different employee focus groups would be from consumer groups until I was asked to be part of a research team for a company that specializes in employee-engagement research. I didn’t know this before the groups, but you can’t audio or video tape employee groups. This presents all kinds of challenges the typical consumer group doesn’t face. My last employee group project was for a major retailer. We conducted 33 groups across the country with four different moderators and 33 different note-takers, a different one in each city. Judging by the notes, I am pretty sure a couple of the note-takers had never seen a focus group so instead of writing, they were watching. Synthesizing and distilling all that information from typed notes to find and tell the research story was challenging, to say the least. This kind of “jumping in” work and being part of different teams is really fun for me, and each experience has been a learning experience.

Do you remember your first few moderating sessions? If we were able to watch a video of that first session, what would we see?

Well, my first moderating sessions were with mothers talking about toys, and since I had observed so many of these groups before doing my own, they went fine.  

However, one idea Fisher Price tossed around was entering the Matchbox category and for that, we knew we needed to talk to the boys themselves. We wondered how hard that could be to get a group of 7- to 8-year-old boys around a table for discussion. None of us had ever seen a focus group conducted with kids, but we figured it would follow the same format as with the mothers. 

This was at the time when individual juice boxes with straws had just come on the market and were a novelty for the kids. We gave the kids the juice boxes, cookies, munchkins, M&Ms…we wanted them to be happy, right? We also asked them each to bring in seven of their favorite Matchbox cars. Within 20 minutes we had complete chaos with cars being thrown everywhere, juice boxes being used for everything from car wash to squirt gun, and kids unable to sit down because of all the sugar we fed them.  

We sent them home after 30 minutes, and I tossed my two-hour discussion guide. To this day, I don’t think Fisher Price ever entered that market.

Imagine someone has created a look-alike clone of you. The only thing left is to program the clone to act like you act. What are the most important habits and attributes your clone needs to master?

This clone has to be naturally able to chat up anyone and everyone, making personal connections in every line, waiting room, or bus ride. This clone also has to be able to embarrass their kids daily when engaging in the aforementioned activity.


What motivated you to join the QRCA, and what do you hope to gain from your membership?

In all honesty, I only joined QRCA because membership would give me a discounted rate for a RIVA class I was going to take last December. I joined and then the class was postponed. At first I was bummed, but then the emails started coming from all these QRCA members welcoming me, and it felt like my birthday. I looked the people up on LinkedIn; everybody seemed so interesting, I wanted to start meeting them, so I went into action.

So far, since joining in December I have: 1) Been to a Philly chapter meeting, 2) Had a fantastic blind lunch in Philly with another member, Barry Davis, who welcomed me via email, 3) Sat in on a great QRCA webinar on shop-alongs (Tom Rich), and 4) Noticed another attendee on the webinar who seemed to have a lot of experience in shop-alongs, so I reached out to her. We had lunch in Annapolis. (Shout out to Kristin Schwitzer who gave me all kinds of tips on getting more out of my membership.)

And last week, I went to the QRCA meeting in NYC which was lightly attended, but I met all kinds of wonderful people with whom I am now planning a fun day in NYC. They also had great tips like going to the ARF Think Convention Expo part for $25. Who knew? At the risk of becoming known as the “QRCA slut,” I plan to keep attending meetings in both Philadelphia and NYC and would love to get to one in Washington/Baltimore.

I know I will only gain what I put into it, but I have just touched the surface on the QRCA website. I didn’t know about this Connection [sic] publication till yesterday when you asked if I would do this interview. And I have never attended the annual convention, but you will find me in New Orleans for sure in October, where I hope to meet people from all over the country.

What advice would you give others in the research industry who might be thinking about joining QRCA?

JOIN. I wish I had joined five years ago when I just started freelancing.


We are both in your favorite city with a day between groups. What do we do? Eat? Etc.

Let’s just say my favorite city is San Francisco, so I can give a shout-out and shameless plug to my son’s food truck, which is out there. It’s called Doc’s of the Bay.

Our day off in San Francisco would start with a mouth-watering gourmet hamburger from his truck. Then we’d hit every thrift store and record store on Haight Street. Hopefully, there would be a flea market going down too, in the afternoon, and live music at a local venue in the evening.

What books are you reading right now?

I love crafting: think Martha Stewart but give her ten thumbs. So on my nightstand right now are three books on modern quilt-making, a DIY guide for making the woven part of a dream-catcher, and my iPad is open to Pinterest. Also on my nightstand is the new Kate Atkinson book, “Life after Life,” which I just finished for book club and loved, and a book called “Tuning into Moms: Understanding America’s Most Powerful Consumer” by Michal Clements. I highly recommend this book to anyone conducting research in categories where Mom is the decision-maker or influencer.

The Final Question:

A client tells you they'll triple your project fee if you can beat them fair and square in a game. You get to choose the game. What game do you play and how likely are you to win?

Tough question. I am going to have to go with my new favorite, “Cards against Humanity.” The box says is a party game for horrible people: think the X-Rated version of “Apples to Apples.” To be good at this game you need a warped sense of humor, a tendency to think outside the box, and a willingness to be politically incorrect – at least around the card table. I have what it takes to be really good at this game. I plan on bringing it to New Orleans if anyone wants to play.

Back to Top

QRCA Members Get Published!

Editor’s Note: QRCA members often contribute articles to industry publications. With the help of our public relations firm, Hart, QRCA has established many content partnerships that provide a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise of our talented members. Each month, Connections would like to recognize those who have recently been published and share their articles to all members. Information provided by Kelly Hancock, Hart Public Relations,

Recently published member article:

American Marketing Association's Marketing Insights: The Power of Win/Loss Analysis
QRCA member Jennifer Berkley Jackson discusses how win/loss analysis is one of the most powerful research activities an organization can do. She provides tips for implementing successful analysis programs, including having conversations instead of using surveys, collaborating with the sales team, and sharing results cross-functionally within an organization.

Market Research Bulletin's SURVEY Magazine: Provide Quality In-Person Insights Quick
QRCA member Janet Standen discusses how to turn high volumes of research results into insights quickly. She shares her tips for speeding up the key elements of the research process to deliver an in-person qualitative study from briefing to Top-line Debrief in under a week, without sacrificing quality or depth of insights.

American Marketing Association’s Marketing Insights: Setting the Record Straight: Synchronous vs Asynchronous Mobile Technology
QRCA member Michelle Ellis and her colleague Karen Lindley share their insights into how the smartphone is changing mobile ethnography. They describe the pros and cons of research done with a time lag as opposed to real-time methodologies, demonstrating that mobile ethnography is changing the qualitative conversation.

Marketing Research and Intelligence Association's Vue Magazine: Sensitive Topics: Issues and Strategies
QRCA member Maryse Hudon defines what makes a topic sensitive and discusses the researcher's required skill set, the necessary logistics, research methodology parameters, importance of the debriefing phase and some reporting considerations when dealing with sensitive topics.

Back to Top

Kudos Corner: March 2014

Editor’s Note: The Kudos Corner appears occasionally in Connections – whenever members want to publicly salute others who do good things for the organization. If there’s somebody in QRCA that YOU would like to commend for any contribution (large or small) to QRCA, please let us know at All submissions will go to the Editor-in-Chief of Connections and will be published anonymously.

This month’s Kudos...

Kudos to Kris Hodges for her outstanding dedication and attention to detail on her projects for both TechCom and the Social Media Research SIG these past few months. She follows through on all her commitments, in total and on-time, which is a super feat as a volunteer and so appreciated. It is difficult to find the right words to explain her effect on the team; she is a joy and a comfort.
Kudos to Nancy Hardwick of Hardwick Research in Seattle for taking a day off to present to the QRCA San Francisco Chapter some of her insights and learnings about how to jazz up reports with fewer bullets and more graphics to ultimately increase impact. Thanks for your generosity, Nancy!

Back to Top

New QRCA Members

These are the newest members of our association. Give one or two of them a call, or send an email, and welcome them to the organization.

Back to Top

Brooke Allen-Watson

M3 Global Research
42 Mockingbird Way
Medford, NJ 08055
United States

Cathy Boyd

BLiNK Market Research
45 Oakey Dr
Kendall Park, NJ 08824
United States

Jaime Castillo

Kubin Group
611 K St Ste B-435
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

Ying Fu

Dragon Rouge
Room 701, 378 Wukang Road
Xuhui 200031

Kinsey Gimbel

Fors Marsh Group
1010 N. Glebe Rd. Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Pamela Haynes Walsh

Pamela Haynes Walsh Market Research Consulting
20 W Lodges Ln
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
United States

Marna Kirchner

Postnet Suite 286
Private Bag X21
Bryanston 2021
South Africa

Paula Kramer

Beacon Research
38060 Tamarac Blvd. Apt. 215
Willoughby, OH 44094
United States

Christie Leake

Lighthouse Research and Development, Inc.
1292 West 12700 South
Riverton, UT 84065
United States

Sarah McGraw

Researchers Resource LLC
P.O. Box, 1358
Westborough, MA 01581
United States

Barbara Reed

Barbara Reed PHD Program Development-Research-Evaluation
1323 4TH St. SW
Washington DC 20024
United States

Ellen Steiner

Energy Market Innovations
6554 S. Quemoy Way
Aurora, CO 80016
United States

Lisa Vuskovic

Lisa Vuskovic Research
1619 39th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
United States