Welcome to our Market Research Facility Spotlight Blog where our partners have the opportunity to showcase their facility, their experiences and opinions. This week we’re featuring our friends from Sugata Research’s Space Yoyogi.
- Tell us about your facility.
Located within walking distance of the world’s busiest station, Shinjuku, Space Yoyogi’s location is ideal for connecting with Japan. The facility can be reached by Yoyogi and Minami Shinjuku stations. The nearby Takashimaya department stores fantastic food hall allows us to offer a variety of lunch boxes (bentos), while the store Tokyu Hands is a favorite for clients looking for souvenirs, beauty products, kitchen supplies and more with a uniquely Japanese flair.
In addition to the Shinjuku area, the trendy areas of Harajuku and Shibuya are less than 10 minutes away by train, providing easy access to hotels, shopping, sight seeing and a variety of locations for local immersion activities. We are spoiled by the selection of restaurants nearby with literally thousands of delicious options to choose from, featuring all types of Japanese as well as a wide variety of other cuisines.
- Tell us what makes you unique.
Space Yoyogi sits on the 8th and top floor of Ishiyama building and features access via a direct, private elevator. We have three rooms for conducting research, Space A, Space B and Space C, and are continuously making upgrades to meet client needs and provide the best research experience possible. Spaces A and C can be used for both group and individual interviews and feature specialized cameras to give the best view of UX research. Both can be converted between traditional group format and a more intimate living room setup. Space B is our smaller facility room, perfect for close-up viewing of individual interviews. All of our rooms include FocusVision, full two-channel audio and video recording for simultaneous translation, and the choice of listening to either the Japanese interview or the translator audio over our speakers or headphones.
After flying to Japan and diving straight into research, our many international clients often start to lose the battle against jetlag halfway through the day. The spacious rooftop patio off of Space A allows them a chance to recharge outside during breaks while gazing at Mount Fuji in the distance. While meeting the research needs of our clients, we are also happy to help them get the most from their experience in Japan, giving recommendations for shopping, dining, sightseeing and other activities.
- What is a typical day for you?
While slowly changing, in Japan people will typically not be able to take time off work to participate in research on weekdays. In order to recruit the best participants, we usually conduct research between 5 and 10 pm on weekdays or on weekends. Sugata Research is a full-service research company, so a typical day starts in our third-floor office, responding to emails, confirming status of clients and research participants and preparing for the research ahead. As start time approaches, we head up to the 8th floor to brew coffee, put out snacks and prepare the research documents. As moderator, translator and clients arrive, we make sure everyone is settled, comfortable and has what they need for successful research. Our staff politely greets participants, checks them in and guides them to the correct room. At the end of the day, we see everyone off to the elevator before cleaning up and getting things back in order for the next day’s research.
- What’s the funniest/strangest moment you’ve had at your facility?
In Japan, if someone says they’ll participate in research, you can almost guarantee that they will be there, and arrive 10 minutes early. Of course, train delays and getting suddenly struck by the flu can happen, but when we over-recruit for groups, we almost always end up thanking the alternates and sending them on their way. Reliability and early arrival of participants are two things you can count on in Japan.
One of the research projects we did required recruitment of male participants in their 70s for individual interviews. We are used to participants arriving early, so we always prepare accordingly but this time even we were surprised by how quickly the men arrived. Almost everyone arrived between 15 and 30 minutes early with one participant arriving 50 minutes ahead of schedule! When we could, we coordinated with our staff and clients to get the interviews started early and not keep our participants waiting. If the previous interview was still in session, we made sure they were comfortably situated in our lobby area with a beverage while they waited. Every day of this project, we ended ahead of schedule. These participants took being early to the next level!
- In today’s world, it’s becoming more and more challenging to meet client expectations. What are some of the ways you have found to measure the success of the research projects?
As a full-service company, we are involved with our clients from start to finish of the research. One of the first steps is naturally to determine which of our facility spaces will best fit the scope of the project as well as the needs of the clients. As we work on projects, we are able to give clients advice and rather than just facilitating, act as a partner with our client to make sure research goals are really achieved.
It is often all the additional details that make the research experience a real success, so we coordinate with our clients throughout the process to make sure our set-up and what we offer is exactly what they need.
Besides receiving positive feedback and heart-felt thanks from clients, there are so many small indicators of success. Looks of relief when we are able to provide a power converter to make their computer compatible with Japanese outlets or offer up a back-up for whatever item lies forgotten in a hotel room. Pleased remarks when clients take out the food we have to offer for their next meal. Contented sighs when clients have the chance to step away and gaze out on the majesty of Mount Fuji. Delighted reports of how our recommendation led to an enjoyable evening after research… and so many more.
Of course, our most important indicator of success is when our clients keep happily coming back for project after project.
- Why do you think in-person research is a critical part of every brand owners toolkit?
There’s nothing like in-person research to really show how people think. Facial cues and body language give deeper insight to the feeling behind their words and provide a more nuanced understanding than you can get from listening alone. People can be hands-on with products and even if they can’t find the words to express what they are thinking, their actions tell the story.
In-person research is essential and the best way to get in touch with the humanity and feeling behind the people.