Who We Are

City Square Associates is a marketing research and strategic consulting practice that utilizes a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to obtain and apply consumer insight. For nearly twenty-five years we’ve partnered with a broad range of clients, including major media companies, renowned educational and cultural institutions, as well as with smaller entrepreneurial and community-based organizations.

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In the media sector, we have conducted pilot testing, talent screenings, program diagnostics, as well as foundational attitudinal, and behavioral research and brand health measurement. In higher ed and the non-profit sectors, we have fielded primary research related to marketing and enrollment, user experience, program and product evaluation, alumni activation, development and fundraising, as well as strategic planning. Our toolbox for addressing these kinds of questions includes focus groups, in-depth interviewing, ethnography, survey research, and deep data analysis.

Our approach to research is bespoke: While we draw on past experience and tested methods, we recognize that no two clients are the same, and we approach every engagement as a fresh opportunity to learn. Our approach is also practical: Ultimately, our clients don’t just want data; they want to know what it means. They don’t just want to know what it means; they want to use it to improve performance and drive success.

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

OUR TEAM

Chris Schiavone

PhD, Georgetown

Founder and President

Chris is the Founder and President of City Square Associates. In that role he has designed research for and provided creative and strategic advice to a wide range of clients in both the private and public sector including the networks and digital platforms of NBC Universal, ABC Disney, MTV Networks, Capital One Financial, Intuit, and others. Christopher Schiavone (PhD, Georgetown) established City Square Associates in 1997 and has led the practice ever since, designing research for and providing strategic advice to a broad range of clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.  He has studied consumer behavior and attitudes in nearly every major U.S. market Read More

Phil Cook

MA, Trent University; BA, Boston University

Senior Research Director

Phil is the Research Director at City Square Associates. Phil is responsible for overseeing both qualitative and quantitative research projects, beginning from the preliminary design stage all the way through reporting and implementation. Phil’s approach to market research is deeply rooted in the social sciences. He considers himself a “project management wizard” and takes pride in conducting research in an efficient, collaborative, and timely way, while also appreciating the value of slowing down to approach research questions in a mindful way. He’ll also occasionally step into the moderator’s seat, and apply his RIVA training to focus groups, triads, IDIs, and other qualitative environments both in-person and online. Read More

Vivian Harris

MA, University of Chicago

Adjunct Research Consultant

Vivian is adjunct Senior Research Consultant and Process Facilitator at City Square Associates Inc. She has 20 years of experience in tactical and strategic marketing research gained through her work in research and company leadership at three New England firms: City Square, The Taylor Research & Consulting Group, and TideWatch Partners. During her time with these firms, she led executive-level customer satisfaction measurement work for Verizon for 15 years; moderated and interviewed across a wide array of segments and industries; mentored, trained, and supervised research staff; and shaped operational and strategic direction, ultimately reaching the Vice President level.
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Shafi Kabir

BS, Siena College

Market Research Analyst

Shafi Kabir is the Market Research Analyst at City Square Associates. In this role, Shafi assists with key quantitative and qualitative research functions whilst also providing valuable insight on business development. He specialized in research methodology and visualization/infographic design whilst obtaining his marketing degree from Siena College. And with his diverse experiences throughout life and school he has fostered a natural affinity for the social sciences. Shafi adds another layer as well as a distinct perspective to what City Square Associates offers their clients.

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OUR HISTORY

Chris Schiavone , Founder

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).

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.