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QRCA Qually Award Submissions _ DO NOT USE

QRCA Qually Award Submissions

Q&A Due Now

2020 Key Dates:

July 15, 2019 – Q&A Due
July 31, 2019– Q&A Published
August 1, 2019 – Open for submissions
September 16, 2019 – All submissions due
November 1, 2019– Finalists announced
January 2020 – Final Presentations at QRCA Annual Conference

2020 Qually Award Committee Members:

  • Kayte Hamilton - Chair
  • Pam Goldfarb Liss - Board Liasion
  • Kathy Doyle
  • Kristin Schultz
  • Nicole Aleong
  • Elizabeth McKinley
  • Marlena Mattei

Thank you to our 2020 Qually Award Sponsor:


Qually Award 2020

2020 Problem Background

We are in an age of “super connection.” From alarm clocks, automatic timers, self-ordering programs; our real life is digitally synced with our devices from our homes to our cars. Some of these developments are beneficial, others…potentially not so much. As a species, humans naturally crave connection with others; but when did others become “things”?

While the rate of adoption for home automation appliances and gadgets varies (both due to income and generational differences), it’s a fast moving market. These innovations are designed to assist us in becoming more efficient in the home. Somewhat parallel, personal vehicles have also made strides in recent years (from the evolution of traditional maps to personal GPS dashboards in your vehicle with real-time traffic alerts), to automated safety features moving us closer to self-driving vehicles.

Despite the rise of technology within our vehicles AND traffic apps on our smartphones, commuter traffic remains at record highs globally. These innovations aren’t making us more successful on the road.

Traffic, and the related issues, has been a hot topic for years now:

Typically, no one ENJOYS sitting in traffic, but it’s not just a personal issue — it’s also a huge strain on the economy, the environment, and our emotions.

  • “Between Britain, Germany and the United States, these costs totaled $461bn last year, or
    $975 per person.”
  • Vehicle congestion causes poor air quality and impacts our mortality rates.
  • While not an independent factor, traffic piling up can influence an increase in drivers who experience road rage; which is also on the rise.

IDEA: Increase the adoption of mass transit to assist the decline in commuter traffic

Here’s the deal. We know public or “mass” transportation isn’t for everyone — so we’re not looking at this with a rubber stamp, end-all approach. Instead we’re focusing on major urban cities, globally, where mass transit options ARE available. We don’t need to create a system, we need to re-invent it. “The wheels on the bus go round and round…” Can we inspire traditional drivers to ditch their keys and pick up a bus pass

During our pre-search, we noticed some potentially contradictory findings you may find helpful to use as thought starters for your proposal:

  • US studies show that most people support funding for mass/public commuter transportation; yet only a small portion of the population actually utilizes these services. Essentially, voting and use patterns show there’s a “this is for you, not for me” mindset when it comes to funding versus using mass transit options.
  • In addition, there’s evidence that our private vehicles contribute to the planet’s high volume of CO2 emissions. There have been efforts to combat this with green “electric” and “hybrid” vehicle options, but the rate of adoption for these has been a much slower curve than we need to make an impact on the environment. Cost is definitely part of the barrier.
  • Well what about the rise in “carpooling” – do Uber and Lyft help at all? Ride sharing services have lightly touched on the idea of personalized “public” transit slightly (technology + strangers + cars) but it hasn’t eliminated the number of vehicles on the road. Mass transit is a better option for the environment than current ride sharing options and usually cheaper for the rider.

OH! And...

Keep in mind that Gen Z and young Millennials are exhibiting the lowest interest and actual behavior to purchasing cars and getting drivers licenses. They see Uber and Lyft and other ride share services as viable options especially since they face overwhelming college debt and are opting out of cars as one less expense. How does this help the problem? Is it usable?

Google and Amazon offices pay employees to not drive and place their HQs in areas that have residential options so people can bike and walk to work and get paid extra to do so. This could be worth exploring deeper, too.

I’m hooked, now spill the beans! Who’s the client?

This year we’re introducing client OPTIONS for you to tailor your proposal toward.
In your submission, you must identify the specifics mentioned below to support your research approach. Your proposal response should clearly articulate who YOUR client is, using this information as guidance.

  1. Metropolitan QRCA – Consider your client the local government for one of the leading cities with major traffic congestion problems. From LA, to NY, to London and beyond. You’ll need to identify the city and provide background on the issues for this market in your proposal.
  2. Manufacturer QRCA – Mass transit vehicles (buses, trolleys, subway trains, etc.) are all developed by an auto manufacturer. If you choose this client, consider the lens that they are looking at ways to improve their current fleet for more NEW customers. You’ll need to assign a client and provide details on their current transportation options/features in your proposal.

NOTE: Keep in mind that innovation may be crucial in order to truly solve the problem for moving the population from private vehicles to mass transit. If you feel your client would benefit from a tech partnership, be sure to make that clear in your proposal and acknowledge the partnership clearly in your submission.

Regardless of the client angle – the end goal is the same: Understanding driver and rider behavior is the base level for research that needs to be conducted. In reality, the solution will exist by understanding behavior problems AND technology advancements. The following questions are applicable for all approaches that must be addressed in your proposal:

  1. What are the perceptions and barriers to mass transit adoption?
  2. How can technology assist or influence a faster adoption curve?
  3. Is conversion likely or sustainable?
  4. Who will you talk to during your study and why?

I’m ready! What do I do now?

Awesome! Welcome aboard. If you have QUESTIONS about this RFP. Please submit by July 15th to We will post all Q&A to the QRCA website.

Proposals are due by Midnight on September 16, 2019. Each should be no more than 10 pages (including a title page). Be sure to identify a distinctively “you” project name for your approach with your submission. Do not include a budget/cost analysis, nor a project timeline. If a time frame is needed to ground your methodology, consider 6-months or less. Do not include any personal information in your proposal, it will be reviewed anonymously. We’re looking for IDEAS on how you would tackle this problem, not business pitches.

We will identify THREE finalists to present at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference in Austin, TX. Each will be given one free conference admission (if there is a team of two, this is the equivalent to a 50% discount for each presenter). The finalists are chosen by members of the Qually Committee and their extended review members.

The final winner will be chosen from a peer-based vote after the live presentations in Austin. Winner will take home $1000 cash, Qually Award Trophy, a spot in the Qually Hall of Fame and invited to join the Qually Committee for the 2021 season.

The Rules

  1. Proposals must focus on qualitative methods only. We know there is a lot of secondary and quantitative data available for this problem — we’ve hyperlinked several of our sources in our write up! Feel free to mention how your QUAL research is anchored by other research means, but your proposal needs to focus on the qual above all else.
  2. All participants must be in good standing with QRCA. If a non-member submits and is chosen as a finalist, they must become a member prior to the 2020 Conference.
  3. No one on the current Qually Award Committee is able to submit.
  4. Winner(s) from the previous award (2019) are not eligible to compete. This includes other members of the past winner’s firm. (These people will qualify again in the 2021 circuit.)
  5. Proposals can be submitted individually or as a team. Only those team members identified are allowed to contribute to the research design and presentation of the proposal. Outside assistance will disqualify the submission.
  6. Individuals may submit more than one idea but NOT for the same client for which they’ve identified. Example: You may submit a proposal for the city approach AND the technology one. Participants are also prohibited from participating in a Solo and Team submission on the same client.
  7. Finalists agree to allow QRCA to post their proposal on the QRCA website for members to access prior to their live presentations.
  8. All finalists must be available to attend the 2020 Conference in Austin, TX. If a finalist is unable to make it, we must know at least 60 days in advance and their spot may be replaced pending committee and QRCA review.

Meet the 2019 Qually Award Finalists

The top three finalists were chosen after an objective review of all submissions. The committee grades each proposal on a 1-10 score on the following metrics: RELEVANCE, METHODOLOGY, LOGIC, CREATIVITY, AND STYLE & PRESENTATION. All proposals are stripped from PII during our reading time to ensure no personal bias is included in the scores.

2019 top three proposal authors:

Meagan Morgan


Meagan Morgan
Meagan designed a five-step plan with the goal of answering the following question: “what must the Qually Studio do to increase its relevance among heavy gym goers, without alienating current heavy spenders?” The plan kicks off with step one, “Inspire.” Inspire seeks to uncover what motivates fitness buffs by utilizing customer-created “visual #inspo maps” (a virtual mood/vision board). Next comes “Observe,” a process of intercepting current Qually Studio guests for a 10-minute interview to understand their current retail experience. The next step, “Create,” involves a seasoned researcher shadowing a gym goer during and after a workout. All findings will be shared in “Load & Lift,” a half-day facilitated session.

gloria watson

meredith morino

The Qually Studio


Gloria Watson and Meredith Morino
Gloria and Meredith laid out a four-phase method to illuminate and activate segments in order to help build the gym retail store of the future. The process begins with “#snapshot,” a mobile diary to track exercise and physical movement that allows participants to document real time behaviors and feelings with text, pictures and video. Next, in a phase called “Deep Dive,” all participants log into a three-day online board to track their activities, attitudes and habits. A select group of participants will partake in “Looksee,” a handful of in-store shop-alongs that provide real-time feedback. Finally, participants will gather for “Super Sessions,” designed to generate ideas for the Qually Studio of the future.

Marlene Mattei

"Working out" the Gym Rat


Marlena Mattei
Marlena proposes a three-step process to better understand the Gym Rats segment in order to capture a larger share of their wallet. Step one: “Ethnoboards,” is a three day digital dialogue where participants answer self-reflective, projective and video questions in the comfort of their own homes, or on the go. The top participants from “Ethnoboards” are selected to continue to step two, “Shop-Alongs.” They are given $25 gift certificates and are observed as they browse and shop the Qually Studio. Once the transaction is complete, the participant and a researcher walk around the store to evaluate the store experience. The process concludes with “Co-creation Sessions.” In this final step, new recruits and current participants attend interactive sessions to ideate design solutions.

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