If, as the adage goes, information is power, then Barb Justason and the staff at Justason Market Intelligence Inc. wield a mighty sword indeed.
In fact, it could be argued that Justason, who founded the eponymous market, opinion and social research firm in 2004, knows more about what makes British Columbia — and especially the city of Vancouver — tick: from how we vote to where we shop to what we eat to how we feel about a wide spectrum of social, political and economic issues.
“What sets our company apart especially is a real understanding of the local market,” says Justason, whose firm has compiled a city-wide series of polls that successfully predicted the eventual outcomes of the last two Vancouver municipal elections. “We’re not as much specialists in any specific research category as we are thoroughly insightful about the B.C. community, and we pride ourselves on that. We have a lot of knowledge about the character of B.C., and the advantage that comes with that is we can write a resume on almost any category or sector as far as marketing research is concerned.”
Beyond compiling research garnered through city- and province-wide panels, online and telephone surveys, focus groups and intercept inquiries on the street, Justason — a recipient of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association’s Certified Marketing Research Professional (CMRP) designation — and her staff also work closely with a number of blue-chip companies looking to gain insights on what is or isn’t working in their own organization, how big their slice of the market is or what’s truly driving their business on a day-to-day basis.
As Justason puts it, she’s in the business of asking the right people the right questions and delivering “epiphanies”.
“For a lot of clients, whether it’s in the public or private sectors, we’re an annual report card,” she says. “They use the information that we provide by breaking it down and handing it out to different parts of the organization and making an action plan out of that, and we can see the results the following year”.
“It’s great to see our clients, especially when they’ve worked hard on an initiative, have that ‘a-ha! moment’, whether that happens in a focus group or hearing research findings or reading verbatim comments. It touches them directly and when they work with the results we provide it’s a true collaboration.”
Another one of Justason’s collaborations is more personal — her role on the board of Central City Foundation, a local not-for-profit foundation that quietly supports inner-city projects such as housing, food security programs, health and social initiatives and prevention and treatment programs.
“It’s so incredibly gratifying to be connected and associated with Central City Foundation. I’m getting a real education in the challenges and opportunities that exist in the inner city and the gift of being part of an organization that is making a difference,” she says. “We’re creating real and meaningful solutions. It’s among the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, both personally and professionally.”