Versta Research Newsletter

Dear Reader,

This quarter’s newsletter, 10 Things You Might Not Know About Research, features useful information ranging from the really cool (an accessible survey in American Sign Language!) to current best practices that align with Census data on race and ethnicity. We hope you gain a few valuable nuggets of new learning and insight from this newsletter. As always, feel free to reach out with an inquiry or with questions you may have. We would be pleased to consult with you on your next research effort!

Happy spring,

The Versta Team

10 Things You Might Not Know About Research

1. Online Surveys Can Be Administered in ASL

Many deaf and hard of hearing people have difficulty with online surveys because they are typically offered in written English, which is often a second (and more difficult) language for native users of American Sign Language. Online video tools now make it entirely possible for surveys to be administered in ASL. Here is a video clip from a survey we recently took, where the interviewer is communicating the answer scale from very likely to very unlikely. Even if you don’t know ASL, you will probably love the visual communication of this survey scale, and it will open your eyes to a new world of survey possibilities.

2. ISO 27001 Keeps Research Confidential and Secure

The Insights Association has an accredited certifying body that audits research companies to the ISO 27001 standard for information security. It involves rigorous and regular external audits of information and data systems, including the management of people, processes, and technology. Certified companies help ensure the utmost protection for your data and insights. As yet, there are only a handful of market research and insights firms that are certified. We are happy to report that Versta Research is currently certified effective August 18, 2023 through August 17, 2026.

3. Surveys Uncover Stories, Not Just Numbers

For the inaugural Wells Fargo Money Study, Versta Research surveyed American adults and teens in all demographic groups to explore the candid truths about their attitudes toward money. Even with most people admitting they feel reluctant to talk about money, the research uncovered a surprising richness in our varied money stories, including conversations, feelings of doubt and judgement, and for some of us, a hope that our money stories might be rewritten. When done right, quantitative data can tell a story as richly detailed as an ethnography.

4. Even Smart People Get Fooled by the Statistical Mean

We found this statement in a recent New Yorker article: “A hundred years ago, most Americans died in their mid-fifties. It was written by a seasoned journalist, for a publication that has good editors. It was probably “verified” by a fact checker, as well. But obviously it is not true. Just imagine what it would have looked like if Americans lived their lives, and then reached age 54 or 55 and over half of them suddenly died. It seems the author of this sentence found a statistic about average life expectancy, and mistakenly interpreted it to mean “most.” We dug up the stats ourselves and can assure you that only a small fraction of Americans were dying in their mid-fifties.

5. Infographics Cross the Qual-Quant Divide

Creating infographics that highlight key findings from research studies teaches a crucial lesson about research: It’s the story in the data that matters, not the data itself. This means that when you finish your research, qualitative data and quantitative data do exactly the same thing: they prove that the story is true. Versta Research’s president, Joe Hopper, gave a talk about this in January at the QRCA annual conference, an organization we just recently joined. Feel free to download the handout we created on DIY Infographics that summarizes and exemplifies highlights from that talk.

6. Videographics and Journal Articles Tell Stories Too

Creating a video version of an infographic involves boiling a story down to just one or two points. On the other end of the spectrum, journal articles require building robust narratives that can sustain clear stories while showing every bit of rich detail. Two surveys from Versta Research conducted for the Alzheimer’s Association illustrate a full range of Turning Data Into StoriesTM, from the association’s full annual Facts & Figures report (complete with over 1,000 endnotes), to a stand-alone Special Report on dementia care navigation, to an infographic, and finally to a 40-second videographic.

7. Don’t Separate Race and Ethnicity in Your Demographics

For several years we wrote surveys that replicated the Census’ two-question format asking for race and ethnicity, and we recommended that clients do the same. But there is one big problem that got us to change: Few people in this country think of Hispanic as being a category separate from race. So when Hispanic respondents saw a question about race, many selected “other” when they did not see their preferred option. Fortunately, the Census Bureau’s approach is changing, as there is a much better (empirically proven) way to ask about race and ethnicity.

8. Census 2022 Data Is Now Available

“Wait, did you say 2022?” Yes. That’s how long it takes to create one the most supremely beautiful, useful, detailed, and perfect datasets you will ever get your hands on. If you are not yet working with raw Census data, it is something worth adding to your market research tool box. It’s infinitely more powerful and flexible than table look-up tools. And with statistical software like SPSS or R, it is surprisingly easy to work with. This is raw data we work with  at least every week or two, downloading the annual updates religiously. Trust us on this – download your own data and you will have a new market research super power!

9. You Should Keep Lazy Respondents

In qualitative research it makes sense to say “no thank you” to a participant who won’t talk or play nicely. But in quantitative research sometimes it is important to keep them. Why? Because they may represent a unique category of people who, if you cut them, make your sample less representative. At Versta Research we remove inattentive respondents with an exceedingly light touch, because it is normal and expected that people will misread questions, lose focus, get distracted, and answer inconsistently. But we aggressively remove fraudulent respondents, as there is no up-side to including fake answers in your data.

10. Fake Customers Can Actually Help You

Some of the most interesting work we do involves creating personas of customers. It is one step away from segmentation, and the closest one should ever get to doing “fake” market research. Essentially, personas are fictional, highly detailed representations of customer types that reflect the demographics, behaviors, goals, and motivations of real people. They are “archetypes” derived from real data. The often delve into the psychological and emotional aspects of customers, providing a deep understanding of their buying behaviors and decision-making processes.

Versta Research in the News

Surveys about Dementia Care Navigation for the Alzheimer’s Association

Two surveys from Versta Research ― one survey of 1,204 health care professionals who provide dementia care navigation (both medical and non-medical) and a second survey of 1,533 caregivers ― were were designed to provide new data on the topic of Dementia Care Navigation for the Alzheimer’s Association. Survey findings have been highlighted in feature stories by USA Today, NPR’s All Things Considered, Good Morning America, and CBS. The association has produced a special report on dementia care navigation, an infographic, and short videographic as well.

Money Study Launches New Research for Wells Fargo

Versta Research conducted an in-depth survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults and teens to explore the viewpoints of Americans—of varying ages and demographics—to help Wells Fargo provide the help and advice that they are seeking. The Wells Fargo Money Study will be an annual research effort, garnering attention and features stories on Bloomberg Radio, CNBC, Fortune, the New York Post, La Noticia, Employee Benefit News, among others.

Resource Center Highlights Survey Findings about Gen Z Employees

The Standard launched an online resource center for employers focused on attracting and retaining Gen Z workers, featuring new research commissioned from Versta Research with Gen Z workers and HR decision makers. It includes a full suite of position papers with research insights about workplace benefits, financial well being, and what Gen Z expects from insurance carriers. Research findings were recently featured in news articles on Business Insider and Plan Advisor.

New Research for the American Academy of Dermatology

Versta Research was commissioned to survey American adults about attitudes and behaviors around sun protection and skin cancer risk in both 2023 and 2024. The surveys show increases in the number of adults getting tans and burns, and an ongoing lack of understanding about the risks associated with tanning and burning. Findings have been featured in a recent news articles on CBS News, Men’s Health, and Huffington Post.