In Memoriam Saul Ben-Zeev.
On April 27, 2020, our founder Saul Ben-Zeev died at the age of 93. He was a pioneer in the market research industry, of the first qualitative research practitioners, sought after by clients ranked among the most well-known consumer marketers for his unique business insights. In the 1960’s he founded Creative Research Associates which over the years evolved into C&R Research.
In 1980, he and his business partners opened the first office that was solely dedicated to respondent recruitment and hosting of focus groups. At that time, focus groups typically were held in spartan conference rooms equipped with tiny dark viewing rooms with poor sound from a crackly speaker. The creation of comfortable dedicated interviewing and viewing spaces revolutionized the qualitative research practice.
Saul led the charge in opening more and more offices under the Fieldwork name. He loved designing and building spaces. He abhorred cookie-cutter square office spaces and straight hallways. Instead, he used the potential of the diagonal, the 45-degree line that made spaces and hallways interesting and inviting. In the process he developed a very distinctive style, look and feel for Fieldwork offices that are immediately recognizable in the industry.
But it wasn’t all looks. Under Saul’s guidance Fieldwork developed a number of principles that have set high standards for the industry:
- Good locations in attractive office buildings, with hotels and restaurants nearby
- Spacious, interesting interviewing rooms with windows offering daylight, and often a good view
- Amenities for the moderator, like flexible table sizes, ledges and spaces for concept boards
- Large, comfortable viewing rooms with good viewing angles, large double or triple glass viewing mirrors, ensuring excellent sound insulation
- A quality kitchen, to prepare or stage catered food
- An attractive lobby and respondent waiting area
- Recruiting space that clients could see into, ensuring that clients can be confident that the recruitment is done and supervised “on-site”, and
- On-site ownership: Presidents who are owners of the business, committed, in charge, present, and responsible.
Today, his legacy is ensured by the fact that Saul generously shared ownership of and responsibility for the business with a wide group of dedicated professionals who cherish having had the chance to know and work with this inspiring leader.