Case Studies

Looking at the world through the eyes of others is often the key to true understanding.

Public Affairs Research

Navigating the Digital Shift: A Peak Industry Body
Scope: The digital economy is heralding a time of rapid change for many sectors, including all levels of the education sector. A national peak industry body wanted to inform its strategic planning and lobbying by understanding how key education stakeholders are dealing with rapid technological change and their perspectives on the role of this industry group in the digital shift.

Methodology: Canvass identified 50 senior executives from a wide range of stakeholder groups across all levels of education in Australia: primary, secondary, tertiary and VET stakeholders, as well as other peak bodies, MPs and senior state & federal bureaucrats. Canvass conducted high-level discussions with these executives, covering numerous substantive and reputational issues about the impact of the digital shift on the education sector, the roles and relationships throughout the sector and the implications of these for Canvass’ client.

Outcome: Elite stakeholders welcomed the chance to speak candidly and confidentially about their needs and the issues and opportunities facing the education sector in Australia as a result of the digital shift. The research findings were used by the peak industry body to inform and energise effective engagement at the public affairs level and to address reputational obstacles as a matter of priority.

An Evidence Base: A Private Health Insurer
Scope: A large private health insurance company wanted to evaluate its relationships with a wide range of stakeholders including MPs, policymakers, hospital administrators, regulators and business journalists. The research findings would provide an evidence base for evaluation of corporate affairs strategy and team performance, set future KPIs and inform government relations strategy-setting.

Methodology: Canvass research design utilised both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to capture the full range of stakeholder opinion. Canvass was able to secure interviews with elite stakeholders in Canberra and in the major capitals by communicating the demonstrable public policy benefit of participation and positive outcomes for all participants.

Outcome: The client adopted Canvass’ findings and strategic advice and refined its lobbying strategy. The federal government later announced its support for the client’s policy proposal.

Effective Advocacy: A Professional Union
Scope: Canvass was asked to assist a large professional union in New South Wales to gain insight into its effectiveness as an advocate and its standing with a range of elite stakeholders. The research would feed into a broader advertising campaign to position the organisation effectively.

Methodology: Canvass conducted qualitative public affairs research with a wide range of elite stakeholders including leading current affairs journalists and broadcasters, state MPs, policy makers and heads of sector advocacy groups. Canvass secured in depth interviews and developed a set of questions which enabled stakeholders to give clear, insightful views on the client under a condition of anonymity.

Outcome: The research findings were adopted by the union to modify future messages and communications and feed into wider campaigns – both with members and public affairs stakeholders. The findings guided the client through strategy setting for advocacy and engagement, ultimately facilitating better stakeholder relationships.

A Climate Change Initiative: A Community Organisation
Scope: As a condition of a federal government grant, the peak body of a community organisation for the disabled needed to be able to evaluate the success of a communications campaign about climate change to their specific community.

Methodology: From the start Canvass identified telephone interviews as the only feasible methodology to reach this disabled community. Due to the low incidence of this community across the general population, Canvass utilised the community network to recruit a suitable sample across Australia. Canvass then developed a simple but effective questionnaire to measure changes to awareness, understanding and attitudes across the six month campaign.

Outcome: The research findings showed that the campaign had been effective in raising awareness and understanding among a majority of the sample, but that entrenched opposition to climate change initiatives persists among certain demographic categories.

Social & Reputational Research

Audience Research: A Community Radio Network
Scope: The peak body of a national community radio network wanted to understand its audience demographics and their needs and listening habits and to establish a benchmark against which to measure future progress. It also wanted to know why other members of its ‘community of interest’ were not listening in.

Methodology: Canvass wrote a comprehensive questionnaire to provide a benchmark for tracking the network’s performance over time. Canvass then interviewed via telephone a sample of network listeners, as well as a sample of non-listeners who were from the ‘community of interest’ the network was licensed to serve.

Outcome: The research findings revealed that while the network appealed to current listeners it was a ‘well-kept secret’, reaching only a very limited age demographic, virtually unknown in the wider community and therefore unattractive to sponsors. The research also identified significant social inclusion issues. The peak body used the findings to re-prioritise its strategic goals and to develop a marketing plan which addressed listenership and awareness problems. The key findings were also utilised in promotional collateral to attract new sponsors and listeners.

Community Response to the Floods: A General Insurer
Scope: Following the floods across NSW & Queensland in 2011, a general insurer needed to understand current community mindsets as well as changing local contexts, influences and expectations among rural and regional people in these areas.

Methodology: Canvass developed a series of Community Engagement Forums in Wagga Wagga, NSW, involving a cross-section of community members from a range of age groups and occupations. Some were customers of Canvass’ client, others were not. The Forums were designed to be engaging, dynamic and participatory workshops, delving into the social and community context that informs the attitudes and decisions of insurance buyers in regional areas.

Outcome: The Forums revealed that the experiences of rural and regional Australians during and after the floods had changed their perspectives. Forum participants made explicit their levels of understanding, their need for guidance and their expectations about the role of organisations like insurers in community life. These research findings were used to inform customer assistance and marketing strategies in regional Australia.

Invigorating Membership: A Cultural Organisation
Scope: A long-established professional historical association needed reinvigorate its membership and sponsor base to ensure its ongoing viability. It wanted to understand and communicate its offer to current and potential members as well as to academic and political stakeholders across New South Wales.

Methodology: In stage one, Canvass conducted detailed desk research, gathering archival information & collateral to form a picture of the identity, role and activities of the association over many decades. Canvass also compared promotional collateral from other, comparative cultural organisations in the sector to position the accurately. In stage two, Canvass conducted a series of depth interviews with key stakeholders to understand the importance of the work of the association, gathering influential verbatim statements to be used in promotional collateral.

Outcome: In stage three, Canvass collaborated with Bespoke Creative to write, design and produce an informative promotional brochure, using the association’s archives to establish a clear identity and position it as a key cultural and historical organisation in New South Wales. The brochure has been distributed widely and successfully to recruit new members and sponsors across the state.

The Importance of Reputation: An Agricultural Supplies Company
Scope: Canvass was retained by a major international agricultural supplies company to conduct nationwide reputational research on the attitudes of key opinion-leaders towards the company and its products.

Methodology: Canvass identified opinion-leaders in the field among high-profile current affairs broadcasters, trade press, industry representative bodies and competitors and conducted in depth interviews covering all aspects of the company’s operations in Australia.

Outcome: Canvass’ findings led to an implementation workshop with the company in which gap analysis was conducted and public affairs and media strategies were developed, drawing key messages from the research that resonated with stakeholders.

Business-to-Business Market Research

Identifying Market Opportunities: Mobile Satellite Communications
Scope: Canvass was asked to investigate potential market opportunities across Australia for a provider of mobile satellite communication services.

Methodology: Canvass researched business applications where mobile satellite communications could provide a more efficient service or improved data quality. After identifying suitable stakeholders in those areas, Canvass conducted in depth interviews to gain insights across a range of industries and technology applications around Australia.

Outcome: Canvass research identified a diverse range of potential new customers. Findings were used by the client as the evidence base for a marketing plan which addressed these new target markets.

Supporting Decisions: Ethical Investment
Scope: A life insurance company had investment portfolios featuring companies with strong profiles in industries such as tobacco, alcohol and uranium. Canvass was commissioned to research stakeholder attitudes regarding such investments and their potential to impact current and future business.

Methodology: Canvass firstly interviewed senior investment strategists within the corporation, followed by key board members to refine the scope of the issue. Canvass then devised a qualitative and quantitative study with current policy-holders, policy- holders with other insurers and with potential new policy holders in younger demographic groups. The aim of the research was to determine levels of intrinsic awareness of these issues, levels of concern, the true salience of these concerns and the likely resultant behaviours.

Outcome: Based on multi-stage research, Canvass outlined the likely impact of ‘ethical’ versus ‘unethical’ investment strategies on current and potential business. Canvass provided the evidence base and analysis which supported a strong recommendation for a specific course of action to the client’s Board.