Market research and insights agency Bee Industrious pivoted its offering when it realised that clients wanted tech services.

Nick Richardson is MD of the Manchester-based agency, which works with the likes of Disney, Guinness world records and Warner Bros.

Bee Industrious surveys 400 children a week and translates that data into insights for brands.

The company, which also has bases in Lagos, Nigeria, and New York, now provides clients with ‘dynamic dashboards’ which monitor their sales and marketing campaigns, enabling them to make proactive decisions.

It also reports on emotional responses and attitudes to their products and services – and those of their competitors – and helps with the design of mobile apps, websites, promotional video games and digital marketing campaigns.

“I guess they call it pivoting,” Richardson told BusinessCloud.

“When we started the business we thought we were a research and insights agency but as we started to investigate what clients wanted it became clear that tech needed to be a key part of that.

“We’ve invested significantly now so that three out of our four full-time people are from a tech background.”

The company helps brands make decisions by giving them a window into kids’ behaviour in real-time, which Richardson says is a first for the markets Bee Industrious is targeting.

“We see global trends like where kids are spending time, which brands they’re using, what they’re moving to – things like the fact kids now spend three times as long on YouTube as they do watching TV,” Richardson explained.

“We look at the global trends you would expect a global intelligence provider to look at, but what’s really cool is that we can see flash trends.

“Because we’re surveying kids every single day we get to see if there’s a new YouTube blogger coming up, or things like fidget spinners.

“Brands can get this information and therefore react to it really proactively as it’s happening, as opposed to getting told in a report that 'this is what happened in the last 12 months and this is what we think is going to happen'.

“We tell you what’s happening, and we tell you what’s happening now.”

He explained how the tech works.

“With our first product, Kids Insights, we survey more than 400 kids, tweens and teens every single week. Their responses are sent to our database which then translates the data and instantly sends the information directly to our online portal which our clients can access 24/7 – providing them with access to real-time data and insight.

"Our online portal also hosts insightful commentary from our research team which identifies more global trends.

“We have just hired Richard Craig as director of data services. Richard’s background is overseeing databases for some of the largest global financial organisations in London, so having someone with that experience is key to driving our business forward.”

The change in company direction has been a challenge for Richardson, who admits he is not a techie by trade.

“The biggest challenge to the business has probably been myself – I’m a bit self-critical and I think that you’re always pushing yourself,” he said.

“I’m not a techie and as our business goes from being a research insight specialist into a tech business you’ve got a lot of challenges, so surrounding yourself by good people helps with that.

“There are challenges every day but our ethos is to turn challenges into opportunities.”

Hard work is reflected right down to the company’s name and logo, which is Manchester’s symbol – the bee.

“I’m from Manchester and I lived in London for 10 years,” said Richardson.

“When I came back and decided to set up a business it had to be something to do with Manchester.

“Our quote is ‘in London the city owns you, in Manchester you own the city’ - and we’re delighted to own the city.”