18 June 2018
Metfriendly with Northstar case study

When Metfriendly – a savings and investment specialist for the Met Police Force – commissioned Northstar, Alex Wilman, Associate Director at Northstar knew it needed a different approach.


“There is no reason why research can’t be accessible to SMEs. Research for larger clients often requires more process and tick-boxes, whereas research with SMEs benefits from a creative and bespoke approach.” It’s important to look at how research is conducted from start to finish to make the project viable. “Although you will inevitably have a smaller budget there are innovative ways to make it work,” advises Alex.

To maximise the budget Northstar used Metfriendly’s in-house capabilities to:

  • Train in-house staff to conduct research tasks and support the fieldwork
  • Use existing datasets and combine with survey results
  • Utilise Metfriendly’s network of customers and contacts within the Police force

The beauty of an SME is everyone can get involved with the research from the c-suite to staff working directly with customers. “It’s key to help SMEs get as much as they can out of the research project. The research survey was programmed and sent out via Metfriendly’s CRM database and we held a cross company workshop.” Northstar analysed previous datasets combining this with the research findings.

And look for the value add. A good research agency will offer more than just research – it will offer consultancy, training and hands-on support.


Your size and customer base will dictate the type of research you need to conduct. Having a small number of high yield customers will probably benefit from a focus group qualitative approach. If you have a wider customer list, quantitative surveys are often more appropriate.

In many ways, research is easier for SMEs. You are more in touch with your customer base making it easier to connect and gather feedback. 

Northstar used a combined approach – initially conducting a quantitative survey followed by a qualitative approach to explore different types users across the police force. From this they cherry picked the participants for individual depth interviews. They then held members’ forums to sense check the insights and recommendations. 


The market research for Metfriendly contributed to a significant enhancement to its  fortunes, specifically in terms of membership. The customer marketing team was increased to four to enable tailored communications to the different customer segments. There were key new product launches on the back of the research resulting in a rise both in membership and investments.  

Alex’s advice to SMEs: ‘Don’t be scared of research. If you find the right agency, it doesn’t need to be expensive and the returns can be transformational. Be prepared to learn new things and work with the agency to find an approach that suits you and your specific needs.’ Research is not just for the ‘big boys’, it can help build success for the future equally well for SMEs. 

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