Partner Profile: Research – Norm Leferman

It’s important for us at GrayMatter to have longstanding relationships with our partners. One that has truly stood the test of time is with Norm Leferman from Leferman Associates – our research partner. Norm and GrayMatter have enjoyed a ten-year relationship, providing invaluable learning for countless clients across a wide range of categories.

We wanted to sit down with Norm and ask him a few questions about what he does and what specific takeaways he has for working in the research field:

Give us a little background about what you do. How long have you been doing research?
I’ve been part of the marketing research community since 1968 when I started working for one of the large ad agencies in NYC. Over the 40+ ensuing years I have also been a corporate researcher and worked for a small, independent research firm. Leferman Associates was founded in 1977.

What made you specifically interested in working in the field of research?
I have always had an interest in understanding how things work and a strong background in math and making sense of numbers. My earliest jobs in the research dept. of a large agency gave me an opportunity to marry those ideas — using survey research to understand consumer behavior with a goal in mind — motivating consumers to make purchase decisions in our clients’ favor and/or to discover new product opportunities.

What was the most interesting thing you have uncovered in a research study?
In my many studies on cosmetics we learned that no woman will be satisfied with her mascara forever, no matter how good it is today. As fashions change and as a woman’s body changes, women will periodically want/need to change the way they look. As such, there is constantly a need for new mascara introductions — even if the products don’t actually change, every woman will seek a new/different mascara every few years.

Our work with you includes many projects where surgeons are the primary audience, what have you learned about surgeon behaviors when doing research for medical device clients?
At some point in the lives/careers of many surgeons, they go from thirsting for new and better ways to do a procedure to becoming resistant to change. Once a surgeon reaches the stage where he/she is so comfortable with a surgical technique or instrument that they don’t want to take the time and effort to be retrained on something new, there is little value in marketing new products to them. As such, we don’t usually include any surgeon who expects/plans to retire in the next 3 years from our new product studies.

What do you find most interesting about projects in the med device space?
As a professional qualitative researcher I spend a great deal of time talking with people one-on-one, in focus groups and/or by telephone. To the extent that many of our medical projects involve new products and/or various medical specialties, I am personally learning something new every day. I value these opportunities to grow my own mind while we are trying to learn something valuable for our clients. And, I truly appreciate the degree to which members of the medical community will talk openly with me even though they recognize that I have no formal medical nor techincal training.

What do you find most challenging about projects in the medical device space?
Since many of our projects involve relatively small samples of completed interviews, we cannot afford to waste even one interview. As such, it is vitally important for me to be as well informed about the technical aspects of any product or procedure before I call the first surgeon. Being able to understand what they are saying/describing about a product/procedure is key to inferring how that affects their response to the product or communications being studied.

If you had to convince a client the value of research, what would you say?
In a world where budgets are unlimited and time is not a factor, there is plenty of room for error and personal, subjective judgments. However, in the real world in which we live, there is little room for error or failure. Any objective research study, no matter how small, can improve your odds of success by reducing the odds of making a bad or sub-optimal decision.

As evidenced by the many projects we’ve worked on with Norm, we are firm believers in the value of properly conducted research. If you have a project that could benefit from the learning and insights a research study can bring, contact us today.