Master Builders utilise market research to better understand their member base

As the peak body representing South Australia’s building and construction industry, Master Builders SA was formed in 1884 in order to consolidate and advocate for employers and employees in the industry.

In an effort to foster a deeper understanding of their members and their needs, Master Builders SA started working with Square Holes in 2015 on a survey designed to help the association fine tune their strategic plan.

Marissa Hankinson, Chief Operating Officer, Master Builders SA says that the research enabled the association to move forward into the future with some solid data behind them.

Master Builders COO, Marissa Hankinson being interviewed by co-host Jessica Braithwaite for the Building Ideas TV Show.


“We used the data from the research to see where the future of the association was headed, what our members thought of us, where the areas of improvement needed to be, where there may be some dissatisfaction, and what actions we could be taking,” says Hankinson.


“We knew our value proposition, but we needed to move a little bit with the times and listen to what our members actually wanted.” 


The research helped to guide Master Builders SA to where their members found the most value in their services, as well as areas for improvement. In her role as COO of the association, Marissa says that she sees market research as a necessary tool for leaders to gain a 360-degree view of their business.


“I don’t think you necessarily realize it, but sometimes you can get quite blinked in your approach, especially when you’re starting to talk about strategic plans, goals and objectives – your vision for the organization. You are usually on the right path because you understand your customer base and the industry, but sometimes the research can bring to light something else that you may not have ever considered,” says Hankinson.


“It’s better to consider it as part of your overall strategic plan or vision and recognize that it’s come from a voice and that voice is your customers. You can’t just dismiss it. I think you sometimes can be a little bit in your own bubble, and I think sometimes market research is the best way to get out of that.

 Square Holes Founder and Managing Director, Jason Dunstone says that engaging a third party like Square Holes to conduct regular consumer check-ins over a substantial period of time allows organisations like Master Builders SA to stay in touch with their customers.

“Vital growth can come from giving your customers the opportunity to provide unbridled feedback on the strong, and more importantly, sore points in your business. Building this data over time provides Master Builders SA with the means to remain responsive to the evolving needs of those in the building industry,” says Dunstone.

Since the 2015 study, Master Builders SA have continued to work with Square Holes to track member needs and perceptions as the association evolves, with the research data providing the organisation with the evidence they needed in order to secure further funding for the return of their flagship building and home improvement television program, The Building Ideas TV Show.



“Some of the research was specifically around the public and branding and why the general public selected a Master Builders member for building work versus somebody else. Some of that data we then used in our funding submission to the state government, which allowed us then to get the Building Ideas TV show reintroduced,” says Hankinson.


The show last aired in 2019 after being on the air at Channel 9 for 21 years. With help from the data collected by Square Holes, Building Ideas is now available on Channel 9, 9LIFE and 9NOW throughout February, after the Australian Open.


“We’ve now got four years’ worth of funding for our Building Ideas TV show that will showcase businesses within South Australia and our members. That’s just a little portion of the research that has had significant benefit,” says Hankinson.


With the organisation set to turn 140 years old in 2024, Marissa and her team are once again referencing the on-going data collected by Square Holes to elevate their branding.


“140 years is a substantial milestone to reach as an association and as an organisation. One of the things that we’ve been looking at is what can we do around our marketing and brand as a celebration of that?”, says Hankinson.


“We are using some of that data and some of the comments that were said in the research to try and create a more holistic tagline that’s truly representative of our members, as a high percentage of our membership base is actually trade, subcontractors and apprentices.”


While the organisation will continue to use the data collected to serve the Master Builders SA community, those that aren’t members of the association also benefit through their extensive advocacy work.


“Whether you are a Master Builders member or not, you benefit from it. Even though we may not have direct consultation with industry workers who aren’t members, if we are doing advocacy work based on a responder or a collective voice of our members and we are going to state government or federal government for initiatives or to try and implement some change, the whole industry benefits from that,” says Hankinson.

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