FEATURE8 November 2021

Shazia Ali – Research Hero

Features People

This year, the Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Shazia Ali has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2021.

Shazia Ali, Qualitative Research Consultant, Mint Research 


Shazia Ali started her career in research more than 20 years ago and has been an independent researcher since 2009, when she set up her consultancy Mint Research.

As a qualitative specialist her expertise is in communicating with and researching niche consumer audiences and communities including family, children and youth. During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Shazia volunteered her time as an NHS ‘check in and chat’ phone volunteer, utilising her qualitative research skills.

Shazia was nominated as a Research Hero for donating her time to this cause during a time of national crisis.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?

One of the challenges that comes to mind is when I’ve found myself with someone who I can see needs more support. I have had conversations with colleagues in the past about how our role as a researcher is so important because we can find ourselves in situations where people need greater emotional support. We aren’t trained counsellors, but there is certainly a skill that is needed, a responsibility that we have and duty of care to do the right thing.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?

As a quallie, I’m all about the in-person experience. Pre-Covid-19, online research was mainly text based with avatars. The pandemic era has evolved methodologies allowing us to use video technology to see and hear our participants. I’m excited to see how and where artificial intelligence and virtual reality takes qualitative research approaches next, potentially allowing us to recreate and frame different environments to explore consumer behaviours and interaction. I believe that developing and creating more blended approaches which ensure that the human aspect is always anchored in is integral to successful outputs.

Who inspires you as a researcher?

The people that I meet with the work that I do inspire me to keep going, doing more and working harder. People who allow a stranger into their worlds and share their views is so humbling. I’ve often wondered if I would do the same. I’m a bit of a closed book and private person, so sitting with people from all walks of life, who open up, share personal stories, journeys and opinions keeps inspiring me to continue doing what I do. When you can see how much value is placed by some individuals in being seen and having their opinions heard because no-one has ever cared to ask or listen until now – that’s what inspires me.

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2021

In Spring 2022, MRS will be requesting nominations for Research Heroes 2022.