Data Collection on Pedro Cays

Over a two day visit to Pedro Cays (November 6th to 8th), which is about 80 km south and southwest of Jamaica, our team collected data through face-to-face interviews with fisherfolks. Here are some highlights from our trip:


The only means of transportation to Pedro Cays is by boat (or helicopter). Thanks to Captain Dennis who brought us from Treasure Beach St Elizabeth in a 3-hour boat ride (Speed Boat) and the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard who took us back to Kingston in a 7-hour boat ride.


We spent two nights in this hurricane proof camp thanks to The Nature Conservancy.


Hundreds of fisherfolks make their living from Pedro Bank, we’re grateful they took some time out to share with us.

We are concerned about the unsanitary conditions on Middle Cay as there are no bathroom facilities for the fishermen and garbage pollution is a serious issue.

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

Conducting Qualitative Research across Jamaica: Highlights

Team Balcostics recently concluded a qualitative research (Focus Groups & Qualitative Surveys) project involving youths, small and large scale farmers across 9 parishes in Jamaica. The following are some lessons  learnt:

  • Scheduling & organizing participants – give participants at least one week notice to prepare and adjust their schedule.
  • Logistics – Some of the target groups were located in deep rural communities and finding the specific Focus Group venue proved challenging. Be cognizant of additional time for wrong turns (transportation) 🙂
  • Provide Refreshments – It’s a great way to make participants comfortable and they will likely share more information with you.

Here are some highlights from our numerous trips:

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

6 steps to executing a successful Focus Group

During my final year at university, I conducted my first focus group. What seemed like a daunting task, was a success due to adequate preparation. Today, I would like to share some best practices on how to effectively execute your first focus group.

Focus groups are a form of qualitative research that basically explores different subjects, perceptions, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, etc. through a guided conversation in an interactive group setting. The following highlights six steps on how to effectively execute a focus group:

1. Organize,and plan. Don’t do things at the last minute.

2. Recruit and screen the right people, with the right characteristics, and the right knowledge. Ensure that you contact your participants to ensure that the time and place for the focus group is confirmed.

3. Know your subject but be neutral and unbiased in your conversation. Don’t assume you understand what someone means; if it’s unclear at all, ask for clarification. EVERY STATEMENT IS IMPORTANT!

4. Encourage participation by all the attendees, don’t let one person dominate the conversation or someone sit in the background without a comment. Some people are more comfortable in settings like this than others; don’t let that one person run over everyone else in the conversation.

5. Keep things moving. Focus groups encourage a natural flow of topics; don’t move through the focus group topics abruptly, too slowly or quickly.

6. Check all equipment prior! Ensure that your recording devise is functional. It is impossible to write all the comments from the session verbatim without a recorder.

Contributor: Abi-Gaye White,

Legal and Corporate Communications Manager, Balcostics Ltd. 

Market Research Basics

The following question was asked on Quora: “How do you conduct market research?”

This answer by Cate Riegner, was as simple and concise as we could do, so here is it:

Balcostics Research

“Think in terms of different methodologies and consider which ones are right for your needs at various stages of business development, product development and marketing:

1. Syndicated/secondary research: This would be research conducted on/for a particular market that provides market sizing information, penetration data, trending data, etc. Search for published findings at trade organization sites, investment sites, etc. The challenge is finding a study that is relevant to your specific needs, and many charge a fee for a published report.

2. Custom quantitative: If you want quantitative data or feedback on a very specific subject related to your product (e.g., behaviors, attitudes, product concept testing), consider doing your own survey.  The challenge here is making sure your sample is “representative” of the market you want to study, your survey is designed well (e.g., no leading questions, appropriate scales), you process and report data accurately. There are great, affordable survey programming/hosting tools out there (e.g, SurveyMonkey), but you need to pay for sample, survey design and possibly analysis depending on your needs.

3. Custom qualitative: This might be user testing, ethnography, interviews, blind-shopper stuides, focus groups (either online or offline). People put a lot more weight on quantitative data (because it is statistically reliable), but I am a huge advocate of qualitative research for deeper, richer insights.  Don’t discount it just because the sample size is small. The question you need to consider here is: Which approach/method is best for what I want to learn/problem I want to solve?  Each of the types of qualitative research I listed above is better for different needs.

4. Analytic data: A lot of data is generated for free online, through traffic logs, blogs, etc. The challenge here is collecting the data and conducting an analysis/generating findings that can be applied to your specific question/problem you are trying to solve.”

Check out all the answers to the above question on Quora.