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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Catching up with consumers

Earlier this month, ORC International acquired Cincinnati-based consumer research specialist Marketing Research Services Inc. (MRSI) in move designed to bolster its consumer practice. We caught up with ORC president and CEO Marc Litvinoff to find out more about the deal.

What led you to acquire MRSI?
ML:
We’ve had a consumer practice at ORC for some time now, but we wanted to strengthen its capabilities and MRSI offers us the potential to do this. We have been watching MRSI for a while now and were interested in buying them when MVL Group did. So, when the opportunity came up a second time to acquire the business, I couldn’t miss it. We have very similar business cultures and there have only been one or two instances of client overlap so we feel that the two companies will mould together well.

What is it about MRSI specifically that will help ORC’s consumer offering?
ML:
I think when you compare the two businesses, it is clear that MRSI is much more rooted in the consumer research space. Our offering has been growing at a much slower pace and will benefit immensely from the skillsets and methodologies that MRSI can offer us going forward. This will entail three main things: product development research, consumer insights research and Hispanic research. These will help to shape our customer intelligence model and broaden it out some more so that we offer more bespoke services to clients who want to gain more insight into the consumer mindset. It’s very different from our employee research or financial services expertise and having the MRSI team on board means we can sharpen our approach to this field and enhance the ORC brand in doing so.

How will the two teams work together now?
ML:
We will be making the MRSI Cincinnati office the head office for ORC International’s consumer practice and Todd will take charge of the team entailing both existing MRSI staff and some members of ORC’s practice. They will be working together to consolidate all of the expertise under the ORC brand and produce new consumer literature exploring how the unit can help to generate new product ideas or conduct ethnography, segmentation, message testing, online shelf testing, pricing and customer satisfaction research. There is a lot of duplication in terms of methodology that needs to be standardised among the team and that will involve staff workshops to ensure that everyone is aware of the consolidated product offerings and the new services for ORC, such as the Hispanic research.

How important was it for you to bring Todd Earhart (MRSI’s president) over with you and have him lead the combined division?
ML:
Having Todd on board is an excellent boost for this acquisition and adds a new calibre of skills and knowledge to our company board. Since our management buyout in 2011, our ethos has always been to invest in high-growth opportunities that will further enhance our existing research offerings to clients and expand our global footprint.MRSI is a company that matches this ethos without doubt and as president, Todd was an essential asset. His background is consumer research and he has overseen all of the day-to-day marketing research operations of MRSI since 1995, so if anyone knows the consumer space, it’s him.

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