Client Feedback


Whitney Petersmeyer
SVP of Marketing & Communications

Domonique M. Hollins
VP, Brand Strategy and Project Management

“We worked with Deb and SayWhat to conduct focus groups with college students as part of our brand revitalization intiative. She helped us clarify our objectives before setting out so that we got the most out of the conversations with students. Her ability as a moderator was instrumental to our project’s success. She was able to draw the students out, make them feel comfortable so that we gathered exceptionally candid and in-depth feedback from them. She is a great collaborator and partner. We were able to use the insights from the focus groups to inform our recruitment marketing strategy. We will certainly work with Deb and SayWhat again if and when the opportunity arises.



Catherine Makk
Vice President, Global Insight

“I have had the good fortune to have worked with SayWhat on a number of different women-focused research initiatives over the past five years. Whether upscale fashion, teen retail, mass beauty or romance publishing, our businesses have been enhanced by the insights we’ve gained by partnering with SayWhat.

What motivates this customer? What are her need states? How can we ultimately deliver a solution, not just a product? SayWhat’s innovative approach to qualitative insights and focus group moderation delivers a richly detailed, substantial portrait of the customer that illuminates not only where our customer is today but also where she will be tomorrow.

Deb McDonald has a remarkable capacity to draw out women of all ages—from young teens to experienced grandmothers, participants in her groups are consistently engaged, open and willing to share “one step beyond” what I had come to expect from a focus group. She truly provides color to insight, and more importantly, raises as many questions for our businesses as she gets answers to. SayWhat is not a provider—they are a partner.”



Adriane Nicholas
Deputy General Manager

“We worked with Deb, and SayWhat, to do in-home ethnographies with customers and prospects for a new subscription business we’re launching. I was impressed with her deep understanding of our business and what we were trying to achieve, while still being unbiased enough to avoid impacting customers’ and prospects’ feedback. She is a great partner for Qualitative research and extremely thoughtful and detailed oriented in her approach. She is very thorough, while still doing a good job of remaining focused on the objectives at hand.”

Angie Gentile
Director of Brand Marketing & Research

“We worked with SayWhat on our first official focus groups as a company. As you could imagine, we were very eager to learn everything about our customer right away. Deb knew we wanted to tackle a lot with this project and did a great job keeping us in check and focused on only the most valuable areas of insight. I found her approach to qualitative very strategic and pragmatic. Yet at the end of the project, it didn’t feel like we skimped on anything; it certainly felt like we learned “everything” at the end of the day!

Deb was great at wrapping her head around our somewhat complicated and nuanced business. She weathered last-minute changes with ease, and did a wonderful job interacting with our customers to unearth deep-rooted needs and motivations. She truly went above and beyond to deliver an incredibly in-depth final report that we have returned to time and time again for insights – it has and will continue to serve as a wellspring of strategic and creative ideas.”



Grady Edelstein
Executive Marketing Director

“SayWhat helped us with a fast turnaround project for a pitch meeting with a major retailer. The research Deb delivered was very compelling and we will get a lot of mileage from it.”



Lucy S. Danziger

“Deb has worked with the Self Magazine team to identify what’s important and meaningful to our audience. She brings a fresh perspective, and a high level of energy, insight and professionalism to her craft. The results of her work have been both actionable and inspiring to us.”


Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

Terry Campion
Director of Research

“Historically we expended a great deal of effort qualitatively and quantitatively “listening to our consumer.” We benefitted from these insights but felt that this was just not good enough: that we were just scratching the surface of understanding the emotional import of our brands in our readers’ lives. We wanted and needed more.

There truly are times when there are no “words” to describe how one feels. To this end, Deb has been our steadfast partner through the years in developing ever more intimate methods to enable us not just to “know” how our readers feel but to actually “feel” what our readers feel.

This ability to empathize with our readers provides a much deeper appreciation for the benefits we deliver and the way we deliver them. We learn a lot about ourselves as well in the process. These insights provide immeasurable benefit to both our readers and to those responsible for the care and nurturing of our brands.

Deb is able to unearth complex emotional insights and to translate them into clear, actionable outputs; a rare gift among even the best qualitative researchers.”


Marketing Evolution

Rex Briggs

“Deb brings a wealth of experience and insight to her mission to incorporate the consumer point of view into the strategic marketing process. In working with her on the E-commerce Strategy Team at Pandesic and, more recently, at Marketing Evolution, she continues to inspire my respect and praise. She’s an innovative thinker and a consummate professional.“


Frito Lay Inc.

Patricia Masker
Sensory Insights
Sr. Group Manager

“Deb was instrumental in the design and operation of Frito-Lay’s employee-based online community – in essence she was an extension of the Frito Lay Team.

The Idea Network, is focused on innovation and idea generation. As the community moderator, Deb’s insights, creativity, and knack for motivating ideation among the members was pivotal to the success of the community.”


General Mills

Candace McCain
Manager Wal-Mart Shopper Insights

“I’m so glad we decided to do a qualitative component in the study — especially with the powerful insight that the team uncovered about the emotional benefits that lead some consumers to connect. And I must say that it has truly been a pleasure working with Deb’s team.”



Pam Kramer
General Manager, Consumer

“We worked together with Deb to conduct focus group research to shape the product design and marketing approach for our new consumer product. Deb was huge asset in strategically driving the research to gain true insights into consumer needs and motivations. And the final report Deb delivered was the best focus group report I’ve ever seen! It went beyond what I was expecting. I refer to it again and again for insights.”



Bryan Myers
Associate Partner

“We have worked with Deb over the past few years on a range of qualitative projects. She consistently delivers on project management, and handles curve balls with aplomb. What sets Deb apart is her ability to dig deep on the learning objectives and to produce actionable insights that move strategies forward.”


Michele Madansky Consulting

Michele Madansky

“I have had the opportunity to work with Deb on several projects over the past decade – as VP of Global Market Research at Yahoo! and more recently as an independent consultant. Two stories come to mind on her excellent project management, moderating skills, and ability to elicit valuable insights. During a session with women around personal growth we heard several heartbreaking stories that made those of us in the back room well up in tears. Deb was sympathetic yet rational and kept the groups moving along to fulfill our objectives. On a recent project with SAY Media Deb helped with a very difficult recruit of “mobile forward consumers.” Due to her inventive screening process the quality of respondents was excellent across age groups and cities.”