Marching ever onwards...

Napoleon Bonaparte's adage that an army marches on its stomach is equally pertinent to Ayton Global Research, the international consumer research group. Leading her troops, CEO Sue Ayton believes her army of volunteers are the linchpin of her successful roll out of the AGR franchise concept on a global scale.

Commenting on the Napoleon analogy, Sue Ayton said with a wry smile: 'It truly does feel slightly like world domination but I see my volunteers as very much part of the AGR family and the crucial cogs in the wheels of consumer trials and market research.'

With volunteers in over 40 countries, AGR has an established global group of over 250,000 trained and extensively profiled volunteers who are simply an internet click away. Their profiles include socio-economic background, race, buying habits and so on, but more importantly includes specific information about their personal preferences, such as where they shop, their eating habits, how much they spend on a specific product and, in many cases, targeted sector buying preferences. AGR also holds a wealth of information on which store cards they hold.

'We can even tell if our volunteers like own-brand as opposed to branded goods, Tesco or Sainsbury's and even if they prefer Special K to Crunchy Nut!' Sue Ayton added.

With the successful roll out of AGR franchises into the Food and Drink sector in the UK and country-specific take up in Italy and Croatia, AGR has undertaken some inward-looking research on its own success rate over the past 12 years of sustained growth and operation.

In that time, AGR has successfully undertaken over 3,500 trails, dispatched over 100,000 individual trial products in the last year alone and currently sees its volunteer sign-up rate reaching over 300 new volunteers a day globally!

Sharon Voisey, Franchise Manager at Ayton Global Research, commenting on the success of AGR's sign-up rate for its family of volunteers said: 'We do not engage in laborious omnibus trials and I believe this is why our volunteers recommend us. We adhere to the principle of one trial product for one questionnaire.

'We also have a large number of internet chat rooms who dedicate their chat to our service and highlight to one another what trials our members have been on. This really does reinforce our community credentials and is the ultimate endorsement of our service.'

AGR's growing international success and franchise roll out is also predicated on its ability to always produce a panel of volunteers that is specifically designed to meet clients' bespoke requirements. They work to create the perfect consumer profile for products and target relevant volunteers directly, whether it is on a national/international scale, a specific region of the country, a town or simply a post/zip code.

AGR will then advise clients on trial design and content according to their aims and objectives: claim substantiation, advertising standards compliance, new product development, benchmark testing, etc.

As new franchise owners have discovered, AGR benefits from its own bespoke ACORN software - Ayton Consumer Online Research Network - easily enabling the set up of panels and trials to meet growing demand in any given territory. This state-of-the-art technology, coupled with AGR's own online training programme, is offered free to all AGR franchise owners, so that they can focus on marketing and promotion, rather than invest in hours and hours of staff training. Verto Training Ltd has produced this training capability as a bespoke solution for AGR. It is offered in any language, manages the progress of whole teams of employees - assessing and certifying them automatically, operates from any country and is a huge bonus for AGR franchise owners.

The ever-expanding global market presents a real opportunity for AGR franchise owners. With the recent downturn in global trade, clients can ill-afford to make mistakes when planning future business strategies. AGR and its franchise owners are therefore ideally placed to produce research that will be able to inform client evaluation, enabling them to make profitable decisions.

Sue Ayton commented: 'Whenever you see a successful business, someone has made a courageous decision. I like to think that Ayton Global Research informs courageous decisions.'