AMA: What is ZoCo’s Approach to Research?

Associate Director of Research Sara Riedel on ZoCo's approach to research.

ZoCo’s approach to research involves three main pillars.

One, we focus on just enough research. Two, we take one step back and look at the research from a broader perspective. And three, we become the customer advocate.


ZoCo’s first pillar of research is what we call just enough research. We follow the Pareto Principle, which says 20% of the effort will get you, 80% of the results. This is something that’s used in bug testing, QA testing, all over. It explains why we don’t need hundreds and hundreds or even tens of interviews, qualitative interviews.

We tend to do 4 to 6 per audience and assume that there’s about five audience groups within a general population. Basing company-wide or business-wide decisions on just a few interviews is often super scary for clients, which is why we validate those results at scale through a quantitative validation of some sort. Typically, a survey.

Again, we’re focused on just enough research, so we’re typically doing 200 to 400 survey respondents per audience group to make sure that we have enough, but we’re not going overboard. We take one step back.

Our second pillar to research is that we take one step back. Our clients are the experts. They’re really in the weeds. And sometimes they can’t see the bigger story. Our role is to come in and help them see the whole forest, not just the trees, not just the weeds. Doing this, taking one step back, getting a broader approach to the problem allows us to see new influences and opportunities that the client may not have seen.

The third pillar of ZoCo’s research practice is being the customer advocate. Our clients are the subject matter experts. They know their business. They know the industry. Our role is to be the customer advocate, to understand and communicate what the customer wants, what they need, what their goals are.

It is not our responsibility to force the business into next steps or to understand all of the implications that exist. That is something that we collaborate on to understand. Our role is really to say, this is what the customer wants and here are the next steps if you want to align with those needs.

Eric Trimble