VOC Research – Not Just for Volatile Organic Compounds Anymore

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

As a wannabe astronaut since I was about 5 years old, I’m a big fan of SpaceX.  It’s super cool to see the progress that has been made just in the last decade when a new, energetic startup truly pushes the capabilities of spaceflight.  When I read over discussions about their progress toward manned spaceflight, though, I’m reminded that government agencies (and the organizations that work with them like SpaceX) love acronyms.  For someone not deeply embedded in the industry, it’s easy to become lost in discussions about the F9 launch from LC-39A that was NET May 27th and would launch astronauts to the ISS, which is in LEO, and the booster that would come back and land on the ASDS named OCISLY.

Thankfully, the world of marketing and market research isn’t near that full of jargon.  However, we do have our own blind spots to terminology that is obvious to those of us who work in the industry but may be completely unknown to those who don’t.  For the next month or two, therefore, we’ll be focusing on some of these industry terms and trying to explain what they really mean for our clients.

To start out this discussion, let’s chat about VOC research.  At its core, the concept is simple.  VOC research is intended to bring the “voice of the customer” to the table when leaders are discussing and debating strategies.  The idea is that customers are at the core of nearly any organization’s strategy, so it is vital to make sure that you are constantly listening to what they have to say and considering how you can better meet their needs. 

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Corona’s Commitment

Our communities are hurting. As we reach the 14th day of protests here in Denver against police brutality and systemic racism, the Corona team has been listening, learning, and reflecting.  

Photo by Henry Desro on Unsplash

We mourn with our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) neighbors and friends at the injustices they face at the hands of systems that oppress them. This is a reckoning moment for our country, as we collectively acknowledge that our country’s history is one characterized by systemic racism and oppression; that we live in a country built by Black bodies through Black oppression and Black death. Children have different opportunities in life simply because of the zip code into which they were born. Data can predict a person’s life span based on his or her ethnic identity—this disparity is one of many symptoms of a system in need of revision.  

In our work, inequity of ethnic and sexual minorities consistently presents stories of worse public health outcomes, access to resources, opportunities for advancement, and the ability to participate in research due to the time and access to technology or transportation that this requires. Like everyone, Corona researchers are imperfect humans with our own blind spots that we have been inspired to recognize and address. Members of our staff have been active in the community, re-educating ourselves on the realities of minority experiences in our own communities, and engaging in honest conversations with our coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors.   

At Corona Insights, our roles as researchers, evaluators, and consultants are vital because we are a window of communication between leaders and the public, and we are an advisor to those leaders.  As a company, we prioritize uncovering the truth for the good of all, and this includes engaging the community, lifting up the voice of the underserved, and identifying structural barriers to equity. 

We do not believe in simply checking boxes: we are getting to work. As an organization, we are deepening our efforts to listening, learning, and acting with equity. We understand that delivering on promises of equity and justice will require ongoing work and steadfast commitment. Earlier this year, our team formed an equity task force. As one result of this initiative, Corona Insights is hiring a Colorado-based diversity consultant to create an actionable plan for how Corona Insights can further embrace and express an equitable perspective in our work.  

We will emphasize the importance of this present moment in history.  

We will take pride in stating clearly that Black Lives Matter.  

We will listen. We will learn. We will grow.  


Community and Research: Making the Case for a Nuanced Understanding

Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

What is community? We hear the word thrown about in a multitude of contexts and meanings, but what is it really? The Oxford Dictionary defines community as a “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”  But how are we defining and identifying those commonalities? 

When quarantine lockdown began in Colorado in March 2020, I posed a question about community on social media. I asked how people were defining community during coronavirus. It is a rare phenomena for the global “community” to simultaneously share a common experience. I wondered if community was being thought of in a new way during these unprecedented times.  

Somewhat surprisingly, many of the responses provided by personal and professional acquaintances did not speak of a larger, global community. Rather than using expansive terms, many spoke of communities on a hyper-local scale. Their current community was being defined by their family, their coworkers, the local restaurant owners and hospitality workers.

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Welcome, Camille

Starting a new job is always a venture into the unknown.  Sometimes it’s exactly what you expect.  Other times, you start a job, and two weeks later you’re dealing with a global pandemic and working from home.  Then, you have to help your new employer figure out how to do a job remotely that has historically been done almost entirely in-person.

Welcome to Camille Delaney’s first month at Corona.

It took us a few months to get this blog up due to all of the changes we had to make to adjust to the COVID-19 situation, but don’t take our tardiness as any indication of Camille’s value to Corona!  Camille came to Corona with a background in bookkeeping for a wide variety of organizations.  To our relief, she had experience with some systems that could help us move our office practices to a more remote and virtual world.  If you’re currently working with us, you might notice that you can now pay us via ACH, for example, and we no longer have to print and sign physical checks to send payments to our vendors.  These aren’t exactly new technologies, we admit, but hey…better late than never.

Aside from keeping our (virtual) office up and running, Camille is also a talented performing artist (primarily dance) and teaches yoga classes.  If you ever want to have a personalized yoga instructor for your office, give Camille a call!  (We can attest that remote yoga classes work just fine.)

So join us in welcoming Camille to the team – even if it’s a few months late…


See our staff pages to learn more about Camille and the rest of our Corona team!


Colorado’s COVID-19 Experience Part 5: Types of Worry

The Corona Insights team wanted to know how Coloradans were holding up during shelter in place, so we conducted a survey! We asked residents about a broad range of topics, including their overall wellbeing, challenges, concerns, community response, and others.

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We’ve discovered a lot of interesting things in our COVID-19 Experience Survey data. For my own analysis, I wanted to better understand how worried Coloradans are about health and the economy during this pandemic. During an emergency, officials often want the public to stay calm so that people don’t engage in rash behavior. Understanding what people are worried about can be useful when figuring out how to keep everyone calm. 

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Colorado’s COVID-19 Experience Part 4: How COVID-19 Impacts Quality of Life

The Corona Insights team wanted to know how Coloradans were holding up during shelter in place, so we conducted a survey! We asked residents about a broad range of topics, including their overall wellbeing, challenges, concerns, community response, and others.

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As a part of our blog series recapping results from our COVID-19 Experience Survey, we wanted to dig deeper into our data and understand why some Coloradans said their quality of life had dropped significantly during shelter in place while others reported about the same wellbeing as before all of this started.

Wellbeing in Crisis

In order to assess changes in quality of life, we asked respondents a couple of questions. First, “On a scale of 0 (not good at all) to 10 (great), how would you rate your quality of life right now?” Next, we posed a similar question to understand how respondents would rate their quality of life “before the start of the COVID-19 situation.” Ideally, we would have been surveying these respondents over a few months, asking the original question at various time periods to develop “pre” and “post” scores to analyze. Many of our evaluation projects employ this strategy; the present circumstances, obviously, did not allow for us to go this route. However, by asking Coloradans to think back to their quality of life before the start of the pandemic, we can create a reasonable measurement of change by subtracting their “pre” scores from their post (or “during”) COVID quality of life score.

As reported in Part 1 of this series, Coloradans said that their quality of life dropped by a score of 1.4, or by about 18%, on average. However, this average only tells part of the story. While around a third of the state reported a one or two-point drop, more than a quarter of residents said their quality of life had decreased more substantially since the beginning of the pandemic. While a small percentage of the state (7%) actually said their life had gotten better during shelter in place, almost a third reported no change.

What explains this wide range of outcomes? Unsurprisingly, our analysis suggests those hit hardest economically reported the largest decreases in quality of life. Additionally, Coloradans who were socially isolated during shelter in place fared worse than those living with, and consistently interacting with, others. In the next section, we detail our key findings related to quality of life changes. If you are interested in how we estimated these results, or how to interpret regression analysis you can continue reading into our “How to Analyze the Data” section.

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Adaptation in Evaluation: Pressures and Progress in a Time of COVID-19

Amidst rising efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Polis closed Colorado schools on March 18th. In the weeks leading up to the 18th, much of the state was holding its breath to see what would happen. While many organizations have frozen in place due to the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of our long-term clients, Big Idea Project, has exemplified how to be proactive during this time of uncertainty.  When faced with impending school closures, Big Idea Project got to work modifying its program implementation This proactive problem-solving work that now ensures the program’s resiliency isn’t entirely surprising when one considers how Big Idea Project’s aim to empower young Coloradans to solve big problems.

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

In an education environment where most curriculum is standards-centered, Big Idea Project provides “a student-centered approach that connects the head and the heart through experiential learning, resulting in personal development that goes beyond knowledge.”, Big Idea Project builds leadership, workforce readiness, social-emotional skills, and well-being through a unique model that combines service learning, mentorship with working professionals, and classroom engagement.

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Colorado’s COVID-19 Experience Part 3: Past & Future Plans

The Corona Insights team wanted to know how Coloradans were holding up during shelter in place, so we conducted a survey! We asked residents about a broad range of topics, including their overall well-being, challenges, concerns, community response, and others.

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As a part of our blog series recapping results from our COVID-19 Experience Survey, we wanted to examine what plans were disrupted by the pandemic and how soon Colorado residents felt they would be comfortable to return to various activities.

First, we asked respondents what travel plans, if any, they had to cancel due to COVID-19 crisis. Most Coloradans said the pandemic caused them to cancel at least one scheduled trip. About four in ten residents said they had to cancel travel for pleasure that required an airline flight. Almost one quarter of the state said they took an overnight recreational trip by car off their calendars.

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Colorado’s COVID-19 Experience Part 2: Community Response

The Corona Insights team wanted to know how Coloradans were holding up during shelter in place, so we conducted a survey! We asked residents about a broad range of topics, including their overall wellbeing, challenges, concerns, community response, and others.

All posts in this series:


As a part of our blog series recapping results from our COVID-19 Experience Survey, we wanted to take a look at how Colorado residents have been gauging the State and community response to the pandemic and see what residents themselves have been doing to help others.

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