Orie Kristel, Ph.D., CEO

Orie V. Kristel Ph.D., CEO

His Background in Academic Research Orie V. Kristel earned a B.S. in psychology from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and a M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from The Ohio State University. Social psychology uses the scientific method to better understand how individuals think, feel, and act in social situations. His academic training emphasized the study of both the theory and application of "how to influence others," the measurement of attitudes and attitude strength, the power of accountability demands, the construction and application of research designs, and quantitative data analysis.

His Background in Applied Research Orie completed his first market research project as a senior in college, when he collected and reported client satisfaction data for a medical care provider in the Philadelphia area. As a 19-year market research veteran who is ivory-tower trained and real-world experienced, he has successfully managed and led hundreds of market research projects. He appreciates and embraces every opportunity to design and deliver high-quality, usable research to his clients and partners.

Organizational Role In addition to fulfilling the duties required of a CEO, Dr. Kristel is one of the organization’s principal researchers. He is ultimately responsible for the quality of all work performed by Illuminology. He also owns Illuminology's sister company, The Strategy Team.

Some Personal Info As father of an energetic, adventurous middle schooler and an active, creative elementary schooler, Orie is frequently called upon to make electrical, plumbing, and other minor structural repairs to his home (which he secretly enjoys). Orie’s community activities include service on the boards of Directions for Youth and Families and the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, which are nonprofit organizations in Columbus, Ohio. He continues to suffer as a Philadelphia Eagles fan but is now feeling more optimistic.

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Alison Szymanski, Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Alison M. Szymanski Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Her Background in Academic Research Alison M. Szymanski earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from The Ohio State University. Social psychology uses the scientific method to better understand how individuals think, feel, and act in social situations. While in graduate school, Alison explored the linkages between human behavior and self-identity – how what we do informs how we think of ourselves. She was one of ten OSU graduate students to win a Graduate Associate Teaching Award in 2008. And working in conjunction with some of the nation’s leading survey research experts, Alison has published on the topic of survey response rates.

Her Background in Applied Research An eight-year veteran in the applied domain, Alison’s intuitive grasp of project requirements and ability to identify (and then communicate) the critical findings of a research engagement means she’s a natural fit with our company.

Organizational Role Dr. Szymanski is one of the organization’s principal researchers.

Some Personal Info Alison is from Michigan but we don’t hold that against her. When not extolling the virtues of Western Michigan, Alison enjoys watching Detroit sports on television, cheers on the Michigan Wolverines whenever they are playing, runs, plays tennis, and is an avid pescatarian. She loves her husband, her children, and her cat.

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Amanda Scott, Ph.D.

Amanda Scott Ph.D., Partner

Her Background in Academic Research Dr. Amanda Scott is a social psychologist whose academic training at The Ohio State University focused primarily on stereotyping, group behavior, and legal decision-making. Her dissertation topic was how stereotypes of victims can impact civil decisions in a legal context. She has additional academic training in the areas of attitude measurement, research design, and survey methodology.

Her Background in Applied Research Amanda has over 12 years of professional and consulting experience in applied research, including project management and statistical support to expert witnesses who conduct survey research in the context of class action litigation. She has also served as a Social Science Research Advisor for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and interned at ODJFS’ Research and Evaluation department while a student at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Organizational Role Dr. Scott is one of the organization’s principal researchers.

Some Personal Info Amanda is a foster / adoptive parent and serves on the Board for the Greater Common Good, an effort to reduce domestic violence, and Six Strings Concerts. She is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research and the American Society of Trial Consultants.

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Case Study

Claire’s Stores, Retail Store Layout Evaluation

The Context

Claire’s Stores, one of the world’s leading specialty retailers of fashionable accessories and jewelry at affordable prices, wanted to ensure that the different groups of women who shopped its stores – from elementary school girls to high schoolers to mothers shopping with their preschool daughters – could easily find the items they were seeking. Before Claire’s invested millions of dollars in this store refurbishment effort, it needed to know whether its new store design was effective and appealing to these different shopper groups.

The Critical Question

Would the new store design and layout be appealing (and ultimately, lead to more sales) for these different types of shoppers?

Our Solution

Our research team shopped along with and interviewed Claire’s customers between the ages of 5 and 18 in different Claire’s stores both before and after a new store design was implemented.  We observed young women navigating the store and listened to their opinions about the accessories available, how these products were displayed, and the overall layout of the shopping environment. And we conducted sophisticated statistical analyses to test whether shopper reactions and behaviors changed from pre-store redesign to post-store redesign.

Illumination

Shoppers overwhelmingly preferred the new store design to the old, believing it was easier and more fun to shop. We concluded Claire’s could be confident the new store design would be a substantial improvement over the status quo, and recommended it continue with its plans to refurbish additional stores.

Resolution

In the end-of-year fiscal report released by the company after this research was completed and store refurbishment began in earnest, the Claire’s CEO said the following regarding the company’s strong sales growth… “The work that we did to upgrade the merchandise selection, distort our assortment to capitalize on the opportunity in Accessories, and improve the in-store environment enabled us to create strong positive momentum.” Claire’s is continuing to refurbish and redesign its stores.