Everyone on our team speaks native-fluent Mandarin Chinese, as well as another couple of dialects, we regularly conduct challenging in-depth interviews and are thus able to directly capture critical cultural, attitudinal and emotional nuances and tensions.
We have spent decades in mainland China, we are deeply immersed in the Chinese psyche, culture and thought.
We bring elements to the table that are indispensable for maintaining accuracy and quality, that is our experience, critical thinking skills and - and in today's volatile environment - untainted mindsets and perceptions.
Holger E. Metzger
Holger E. Metzger 侯嘉 founded TMRC 昕萤 Impact, a qualitative marketing research agency, in Shanghai in 1998. Native fluent in Chinese, he was the first non-Chinese qualitative moderator to conduct FGDs and deep psychological interviews all across China, and today he is probably the most accomplished insights and brand communication specialist in one of the world's most challenging market environments.
Back in 1998 he and his team started with agricultural research for Dupont and automotive communication research and strategy development for GM/SGM and the famed Buick launch in Shanghai. TMRC Impact became a preferred China insights partner for dozens of leading global companies operating in China, from Coca-Cola to Unilever, as well as emerging Chinese conglomerates such as Tencent. Eventually, coverage expanded to India, Indonesia, Japan, the US and European markets.
Consumer & Brand Communication Psychology
An early specialization in cutting-edge psychological insights and brand communication techniques led to professional relationships with US and Chinese university marketing & psychology researchers. TMRC Impact (operating as Narrative Acuity outside China) is a pioneer in the use of Narrative and Perception Psychology in consumer insights and branding. Holger, who now also works on various projects in Europe, continues to conduct interviews, he steers insights analysis and insights video production through to Brand Narrative development, and faciliates workshop to implement insights. He trains corporate teams in our techniques, Narrative Psychology in particular, and he has developed a popular art-based ‘Art of Acuity’ critical observation & communication seminar. He also created a compact "Brand & Consumer Psychology Masterclass", available on leading e-learning platforms.
Creative Film Work
As a screenwriter/director, Holger conceived, wrote and directed the Chinese-language web-series ‘Men, Impossible’ with a female rights angle on the social issue of so-called 'left-over women' in 2014. It gained 10+ million views within a couple of days on the Chinese streaming platform iqiyi.com before being removed by government censors who called the series ‘socially disruptive’: the ending did not conform to stereotypical patriarchal views of a woman's role in society at the time...it clearly left an impact. Holger has been writing and directing various short films that focus on social and individual tensions in times of transformation, including 'Brain Science', an entertainingly cynical view on what 'Win-Win' really means in China, 'Buzzcut', an animated short on how justice is sometimes handled, as well numerous consumer mini-documentaries for brands that he and his team have been working for. He also created, wrote and directed the 3-Season, 21-episode dramatic live action series 'I, Human' for a global educational group as a core element of their cutting-edge Mandarin learning program. Most recently, Holger filmed and produced a short arthouse documentary on a traditional glass artist in the Black Forest, 'The Useless Glassblower', which won several international awards.
CH Huang 黄琼萱
Associate Director - China Team
CH has more than 10 years of psychological counseling experience, including work in mental health in the USA, with child protection services in Taiwan, and with the NPO for asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. She has abundant experience with children and teenagers with emotional and behavioral issues, who often face intimacy and family relationship challenges, who struggle with personal growth vicissitudes, as well as with life adjustment & multi-cultural issues. CH, originally from Taiwan, has been working as an individual counsellor, providing psychotherapy and related emotional well-being workshops in Shanghai.
For many years, CH has also been an active market researcher, with a strong focus on psychological and emotional needs and tensions, on people's life-related motivations and aspirations, as well as the creation and challenges of self identity. She applies her extensive psychological knowledge and interviewing skills to specific analytic frameworks within the consumer research field. In consumer research, CH focuses on narrative psychology and psychodynamic relationships between people, products and brands. In consumer insights and branding spheres, CH has worked as a qualitative research director for non-profit think-tanks in Taiwan, and then for Ipsos in mainland China where she also trained junior qualitative researchers.
CH earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan, she is a licensed Master Social Worker at New York State (LMSW), a member of the Shanghai International Mental Health Association (SIMHA), and a member of International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI). She joined Narrative Acuity as Associate Director in 2021 where she actively moderates in-depth qualitative interviews with various psychological components to decode needs, tensions and motivations among specific consumer groups, and to understand corresponding roles of brands and products. CH then uses those insights to help our clients create strategies for enhancing and consolidating brand meaning, to optimize positioning and communication, and to create deeper, more meaningful emotional connections between brands and users.
Karen Tsai 蔡馨慧
Associate Director - China Team
Born and raised in Taiwan and having worked in mainland China for 15 years, Karen is a highly experienced qualitative insights specialist, a sensitive moderator and sharp analyst. Karen speaks native-fluent Mandarin Chinese and English, she is extremely knowledgeable about emerging trends and consumer behavior across numerous categories in China. She has been handling demanding insights projects and helped global clients apply valuable research findings to their brand building and communication efforts in the difficult Chinese market environment.
Karen is also a RIVA-trained ethnographer, and having worked with Narrative Acuity for years, she has extensive experience in our advanced qualitative and specialized psychological approaches, including narrative psychology, associative thought models, metaphor elicitation and other cutting-edge techniques, as well as in our film ethnography. Drawing on her Masters degree in Broadcast Journalism and previous journalistic experience, Karen is a highly effective communicator who conveys sometimes complicated insights with absolute clarity and the required contextual thinking.
Karen is experienced in applying consumer insights to next-step marketing efforts, she often co-facilitates Narrative Acuity's insights transfer workshops, including Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) and Brand Narrative development, as well as Creative Communication development workshops, to help our clients optimize brand positioning and communication startegies, to create meanigful emotional connections between brands and their target audiences - which has become increasingly difficult for foreign brands in China, in particular.
Michelle Shao 邵燕
Associate Director - China Team
Michelle grew up in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou and speaks fluent Cantonese, Mandarin and English. She is an accomplished researcher, moderator and strategist with extensive experience of gaining insights to discover and help clients realize business opportunities. She believes that human-centered insights can bring positive impact and meaning to people’s lives by enabling brands to create tangible value. Michelle is particularly adept at weaving design and visual assumptions into research methods to uncover deeper insights.
Her skills and convictions motivated her to switch from a consumer insights leadership role after 10 years with Colgate Palmolive where she drove insights to address and inspire GTM solutions and innovation roadmaps, to a design research lead at IDEO Shanghai. In her IDEO years, Michelle led agile and diverse teams to create solutions to give clients unique propositions in highly complex business situation across F&B, real estate, fashion and the travel industry.
Michelle has been working with Holger since her early Colgate days (then in a client/vendor relationship), and since her departure from IDEO and return to Guangzhou we created an associate partnership, to work on advanced psychological insights techniques, as well as numerous qualitative and ethnographic projects across mainland China and Hongkong.
Outside work, Michelle spends time on studying and creating documentary films.