FEATURE4 July 2022

Susan Fader – Research Hero

Features People

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Susan Fader has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2022.

Susan Fader, Fader Focus

S-aliSusan is an adviser to clients, as a contextual catalyst for thinking differently about barriers to their strategic objectives.

She helps clients achieve focus and get ‘un-stuck’, reframing their energies, their confirmational biases and traditional ways of segmenting their customers. Susan applies qualitative insights to help clients see solutions more clearly, through alternative, more transformative perspectives that drive their businesses forward.

A regular contributor to industry publications’ thought leadership, and a presenter at industry conferences on innovative topics, Susan has conducted qualitative research in more than 30 countries and on five continents across wide range of categories and demographics.

Susan was nominated for her focus on mentoring and “lifting up other colleagues – she’s ready to jump in, guide, and help others succeed”.


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
US corporate culture and society is not structured to make it easy to work full time (with work travel) and also raise a family (husband/four children). Realising that having the perfect balance of work/life is not a reality and you constantly have to make adjustments and you can’t make everyone happy all the time – even yourself.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
The phrase everything that is ‘old’ is new again comes to mind. The growing recognition that online is not a total replacement for in-person, and that in-person qualitative research plays a vital role in connecting with and getting insights into how people behave and think.

In the last month or so, I have seen a tidal wave of requests for in-person research, and central location facilities are fully booked. Also lots of requests for ethnography/home visits/shop-alongs where clients don’t want to use software platforms. In these cases they feel the software is a gathering tool, but what they want and need is for the conversation and observation of people to be live so there can be a ‘human’ interaction.

Who inspires you as a researcher?
Continuously learning and reframing how to think about strategic challenges. The beauty of a qualitative perspective is that you have to engage in wide-open listening. It is not about collecting data. It is about suspending judgement and truly engaging with people by creating an environment where they share their stories and perspectives. In qualitative, the insight gem can be that 30-second verbatim that one person said, which outshines anything else gathered during the research process.

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022