About Us

We are a marketing research and strategic consulting team who draw on our skills in traditional consumer research, data storytelling, and group facilitation, and to help our clients identify, express, and achieve their goals. Our clients have included major media companies, a variety of major educational and cultural institutions, together with smaller entrepreneurial and community-based organizations. 

City Square has extensive experience with research in media and entertainment, having conducted hundreds of focus groups and in-depth interviews and numerous quantitative studies with media users across the United States. We have conducted pilot testing, talent screenings, program diagnostics, as well as foundational, attitudinal, and behavioral research. Our clients have used this research to refine content, inform content and marketing strategy, test the health of their brands, and understand consumer behavior across media platforms and touchpoints. City Square has also worked extensively in the education and not-for-profit sectors. Our portfolio includes experience in primary research related to marketing and enrollment, user experience, program and product evaluation, alumni activation, development and fundraising, as well as strategic planning.

In all that we do, we endeavor to transform data into meaning, and meaning into action.


Our Team

what we think

Our work continues to bring to light a lot of interesting trends, ranging from how media use has changed over the last decade, to how students learn best in an online environment. In an effort to share these insights with the world at large, CSA works to produce think pieces and white papers that we hope will spark informed conversations and drive meaningful action.

TV News in the New Millenium Cover Image.PNG

Television News in the New Millenium

More than 15 years of experience researching news audiences and the media industry have enabled City Square Associates to take an in-depth look at how media outlets have been – and continue to be – affected by the digital world, with television news being no exception. It is the goal of this white paper to say how.

It has become cliché to say it, but it is nonetheless true, that the internet—that system whereby vast quantities of digitized stuff can be distributed and accessed simultaneously—is the most disruptive technology since the printing press. Just as Gutenberg’s sixteenth century invention took the Bible out of the exclusive possession of a monastic elite and put it into the hands of common folk who could interpret the mysterious texts in the bright light of their own experience and wisdom, the internet has ripped away journalism from the high priests of old media—newspaper editors and network news anchors—and made it a far more democratic affair.

We explore this disruption and many of the themes and ideas surrounding it in this free white paper.


Partnerships not Projects

When it comes to market research, final reports are too often left to collect dust on a shelf or clog an inbox with files too big to download.  It’s easy to suffer under the “thud effect” of too much data and not enough data-driven direction.  End-of-project data dumps from a research vendor are an obvious disservice to a client, but they're also hugely unfair to research respondents—the human beings who took the time to provide insights and/or to interact with a brand, a product, an organization.

“The surest way to remedy the situation is to stop ordering research projects, and start establishing research partnerships.

Research partners move beyond the role of “data acquisition experts” and become “business co-strategists”—fully aware of their clients’ culture, pain points, internal hurdles, and soaring aspirations. In essence, a research partnership requires taking the traditional client/vendor relationship and stretching it at both ends. 

This involves building in time at the beginning to allow for a thorough review of institutional knowledge, data sources, and active hypotheses.

It also means stretching the end of the project beyond delivery of the report to the creation and, ideally, implementation of the insights. 

As a result, research partners become invested not only in your research, but ultimately in your success.  They also become more flexible and more proactive. 

A research partner is empowered to identify your knowledge gaps. Because they’re informed of your strategy and immersed in your world, research partners keep a lookout for missing information –not as up sell opportunities, but as insurance that the research will be as actionable as possible.

A research partner continuously follows the thread. Research partners understand how your initiatives link together and they proactively make strategic connections across projects and insights.  They’re equal parts historian and futurist.

Yes, research partnerships require a different kind of appetite. This is research analogous to the slow food movement: It’s about gaining rich insight (not amassing data that just leaves you feeling bloated and ultimately unsatisfied).  It’s about shaking off the happy meal boxes of “goes nowhere” research and focusing on long-lead strategic work that results in real impact.



Our Clients

While we’d love to showcase the logos of our clients, we’ve made it a practice not to publish our client list. (Strategic work is often confidential work!)  You can rest assured, though, that our list is both impressive and diverse, and we’d be happy to share our references when we speak or meet live.

Some things our clients say about us:

They follow through and deliver.
Many consultants are good at being either strategic or tactical, but CSA is good at both.
They are masters of the details and nothing gets overlooked. They are able to read between the lines and pick up on the nuances that the process and research is revealing.
They coordinate expertly but are also flexible and adaptable.

Our History

I have yet to meet a youngster who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said "I want to go into marketing research." Indeed, the best marketing research professionals I know came to the business from sociology, political science, psychology, literature — even philosophy!

I did my first bit of marketing research in 1992 on a contract basis while I was still teaching philosophy at a small Catholic college in Boston. I was delivered 24 hours worth of videotape consisting of regular folks talking about what attracts them to and repels them from the shows that appear on primetime television. "See what sense you can make of it!" was the assignment given me by my first marketing research mentor. I must have done something of worth, because a year later I was working for the Taylor Research and Consulting Group in Portsmouth (NH).

During my time at Taylor, I had the opportunity to cultivate skills in-group facilitation, research design, business management, and — naturally — research analysis. In 1997 — being constitutionally ill-equipped to take direction from anyone — I left Taylor and launched my own research practice.

Instead of christening the practice with my own name, I decided to give it the name of the section of Boston's Charlestown neighborhood in which I was residing at the time: City Square. I was impressed by the way in which this neighborhood for a period spanning more than 300 years nurtured spirits as diverse and creative as that of Samuel Morse (of Morse Code fame), Elizabeth Foster Goose (yes, the Mother Goose), and John Harvard (of college and brew house fame).

CSA’s logo when it was established in July 1997

CSA’s logo when it was established in July 1997

It seemed to me that the city square was the perfect metaphor for what we do in marketing research: A wide variety of ordinary people gather in that unique place, not just to exchange goods and services, but insights and ideas as well! Those insights and ideas, in turn, shape the decisions that leaders of all kinds — business, political, and charitable — make and determine the direction of the culture.

Since 1997, our business has grown, contracted, and grown again. We have moved from the spare bedroom of my old apartment, to an office share in Boston’s South End, to Brookline Village, and then to Central Square in Cambridge. And our work has become increasingly diverse—both in terms of the industries we serve and the work our clients ask us to do with them. But, in the end, the history of City Square is a story of people collaborating — clients and vendors, principal and associates, consumers and businesses, for-profit organizations and not-for-profit ones — to chart a path toward greater prosperity and a continually improving quality of life.

—Chris Schiavone, Founder and Principal