Who we are

About Us

We have been a leading full-service market research consultancy for more than 20 years.

Founded by Alison Steven, The Brand Surgeon works with the largest research houses, media organisations, small boutiques, and everything in between. We also service businesses directly, helping them with all aspects of their marketing.

Our company’s name and logo are an analogy of what we do. We do “keyhole surgery” on brands to investigate problems and help them stay healthy.

We love connecting our clients to their market / consumers / users. Often our clients have been surprised, delighted, and sometimes shocked by what their consumers tell them. The insights and findings we provide, shape and influence key business decisions.

Our respondent’s opinions have helped many companies, including Kellogg’s, Netcare, Lucky Beard, Ipsos, and many others.

Our team brings research opportunities to respondents via different approaches. We invite respondents to take part in online surveys, interviews, focus groups, product testing, mystery shops and everything in between.

What We Believe

We believe in being consistently great. We live by our values through everything we do, every day.

Be a good citizen

People matter, and we believe that it’s in giving that we receive. Respect, and kindness are non-negotiable; it’s that simple. We can impact our nation and give back, even if it’s small.

Find a way

We’re not a huge company, but we believe that there is always a solution! It comes from choosing the right people, asking the right questions, and caring deeply about what you do, and who you do it with. We’re always curious.

Everyone matters

Consistently delivering great work is everyone’s job. No one watches from the side lines. Everyone chips in because there will always be roadblocks and obstacles, and we expect the unexpected!

Feedback is the breakfast of champions

Honesty is essential. Humility fosters growth. Complacency is not an option. Everything and everyone can and should be getting better every day. Think, risk, and grow.

Complicated is overrated

The world is complicated enough. So, keep it simple, make things clear and say it as it is.

Keep it real

Real is the new perfect, own up and clean up the mess (if you make one). Expect the unexpected. Remember that having fun is important business.

Integrity is everything

How we do things is as important as what we do. Do what you say and say what you do. Every person should be better off for having encountered us.

Our Team

Because we’re small, we only hire the best!


Alison Steven

Founder & Managing Director

Alison Steven has a B. Comm Industrial Psych & Marketing (Wits) and Honours in International Marketing (Unisa). She has lived and worked in SA, USA, and the UK. Alison has been running The Brand Surgeon for over 2 decades, but her background is in companies like Unilever, Pepsi/ Pizza Hut and she was Head of Marketing for Pret (UK).

Alison’s key strengths are her incredible years of experience, insatiable curiosity about all things consumer and businesses, as well as her energy and passion for leading and mentoring others.

She loves helping brands understand their customers better.

Over 50 young South Africans that have been through The Brand Surgeon doors over the past 2 decades through her intern / mentorship development programmes.

Outside of work, she is passionate about her husband of 25 years and their 3 kids – Hannah, Alexander, and Paige. If she could have a superpower, it would be the ability to give young people the relational and problem-solving tools to excel in life!

Nikita Vermeulen

Quantitative Data Specialist

Nikita Vermeulen is a data miner and quantitative researcher with
several qualifications in data analytics and marketing. She has
experience in fields such as cyber security, business development,
sales, and design. She has worked for companies including
Vodacom, Graffiti, and Protect Identity.

Nikita is driven by curiosity. Her key strengths are her resilience,
wealth of energy, and her systematic, detail-oriented thinking.
She loves to reframe challenges as opportunities.

Two of her closest friends at work are Microsoft Excel and Power
BI. If she could have a superpower, it would be encyclopaedic

Outside of work, she has 4 fur-babies and enjoys watercolour
painting. She also volunteers for a bunny rescue centre.

Towdah Ndhlovu

Qualitative Recruitment Specialist

Towdah is a vibrant recruiter who is great with clients and
respondents alike.

Since joining the team, he has grown and is fully invested in
understand the drivers of consumer habits and behaviours in
different markets.

Towdah is driven by his love for people, cars, and a better life for
everyone. He always views situations, challenges through a positive
lens. He believes that “everything is a choice” and encourages those
around him to keep going.

Outside of work, he is part of 2 bands, and plays the bass guitar and
the drums. He also loves church and community work.
If he could have a superpower, it would be mind-reading.

Tonisha Mkondo

Qualitative Recruitment Specialist

After completing a 3-year IT Diploma, Tonisha dedicated a year of
her life to volunteering at The Diepsloot Foundation.

She is reserved, very smart and adds to her skills every day. She is
hard working and dedicated and knows that this is what will make
life better for her family. Family is important to her, and she loves
going out, as well as shopping. She is tenacious and can always find
a solution.

She still volunteers at The Diepsloot Foundation in her spare time.

If she could have a superpower, it would be superhuman

Anouya Gandure

Qualitative Recruitment Specialist

Anouya is an ambitious, outspoken, and friendly soul who holds a
Bachelor’s Degree in business administration from Pearson, He is
studying towards an honour’s degree in Marketing Management.

He is passionate about equality and finding solutions for poverty,
especially in disadvantaged communities.

After school, he volunteered for a year at Golden Harvest
Rehabilitation centre for children where he mentored children and
assisted them with reading. He one day hopes to start his own
learning centre for disadvantaged children to help them realise their
limitless potential.

Anouya enjoys playing and watching football in his spare time and
reading autobiographies and other non-fictional books.

Anouya’s daily mission is to make the world a better place through
taking the time each day to work on becoming a better person.

If he could have a superpower, it would be the ability to time travel.

Reabetswe “Betsy” Ratshefola

Qualitative Recruitment Specialist

Initially, Betsy was an intern who helped us out between her
studies, but in 2022, she joined our team full-time, having
completed 2 years of an Analytics BSC at UCT.

Betsy worked in event planning and management in Cape Town,
and gained experience in media & marketing, planning &
organising, and interpersonal skills. Her strength is creative and
innovative thinking. She loves problem solving.

Betsy is a determined, hardworking young lady who gets a thrill
out of completing tasks well. Teamwork and leadership are
some of her strengths. Her bubbly personality naturally aims
ensure the constant inclusion of those around her. Her curious
nature keeps her excited to constantly be developing her skills
and gaining knowledge.

Outside of work Betsy is a free-spirited soul, who enjoys being
surrounded by her loved ones. She has a great passion for
children and can be found tutoring or volunteering in community

If Betsy could have a superpower, it would be granting peace &
happiness to everyone she can.

Stewart “St2” Steven

Head of Administration

Stewart runs The Brand Surgeon office. He attends to any
maintenance, facility, in-person research / catering / venue
needs. He also oversees our finances.

Stewart is an experienced project manager who ran our Real-
Life Rooms venue in Sunninghill for several years. He is invaluable to our team.

Stewart always has a smile on his face and keeps The Brand
Surgeon running smoothly. He is an incredible, good-natured,
and versatile person.

If he could have a superpower, he’d choose the ability to allow
people to see the good / gold inside themselves.

Our History


The beginning
Founded by Alison Steven in the UK, The Brand Surgeon starts as a marketing consultancy


Hello South Africa
We relocate to South Africa


The Brand Surgeon

New logo
We relaunch with a new logo


Grow, grow, grow
Through many growth campaigns, we reach 20 000 members


New offices
Our newly built office opens its doors

Party time!
We relaunch and throw a party for our clients and industry partners


We launch a sister company
The Brand Surgeon’s sister company Real Life Rooms opens in Sunninghill, Sandton


Innovation starts
We start working on our new online consumer and survey platform


Mobile Moola
Our low LSM panel launches as Mobile Moola in 190 Wi-Fi hotspots around South Africa


We reach 40 000 members


Our team keeps growing!
Our team gets bigger and better

It’s our 20th birthday, and we get a facelift!
Our new online consumer platform and website launches

What we do

Our goal is to answer all our client’s consumer and business-related questions.

We can do end-to-end market research and project management, from helping our clients identify problems, through to delivering business recommendations and solutions.

We design research based on your needs and budget. Some clients want to get in homes, in stores, or do interviews or groups with their consumers. Others want to test ideas, get quantitative statistics to make decisions on various elements of the marketing mix.

We have the largest qualitative database in South Africa, and an online research panel which rewards respondents for participating in market research surveys.

All our respondents have voluntarily joined our database. They have given us a lot of information about themselves. We never buy lists.

Our Services & Research Types

Quantitative Research Services: B2B & B2C

  • Surveys / Questionnaires (all methods supported): Web, Mobile, CATI, F2F, & Paper
  • Hosting dashboards online for live client viewing
  • Client dashboards for live updates

Qualitative Research Services: B2B & B2C, Online & Face-to-face

  • Recruitment
  • Focus Groups (Online & F2F) and In-depth Interviews (Online, F2F & CATI)
  • Neurological biological consumer testing (eye tracking, EEG, heart rate monitoring, etc.)

Venue and Hosting

  • Research Hosting (Online & F2F)
  • Venue with catering & client viewing facilities
  • Online Streaming

Other Research Services

  • Desk Research
  • Project Management (as required): End-to-End or Partial
  • Moderating & Interviewing
  • Transcription, Note-taking

Analytics & Report Writing

  • Raw Data Clean Up
  • Coding, Editing, Analysis, Programming, Power BI
  • Report writing- Topline or Full


years of long-term relationships with many clients


successfully completed projects


clients (local, international, large, small, research and other industries)

We’ve done every type of research, in almost every industry with every type of consumer.

Client Testimonials

The Brand Surgeon team has been a trusted business partner for the last 5 years. They are professional, meticulous researchers who embrace any challenging brief with creativity and energy. They are also people of character, and it is a pleasure to work with them.

Jani De Kock, First Person Research

Peppercorn continues to partner with The Brand Surgeon on various projects and in particular those niche, hard to find consumers that other recruiters and panel platforms struggle to find. To be able to access a resource that Alison and her team have spent many years building and curating but without the hassle and expense of developing it ourselves is a major benefit, as is The Brand Surgeon’s commitment to quality and general enthusiasm for what they do.

Dana Webster, Peppercorn

I have worked with The Brand Surgeon for many years now, and they never cease to meet my expectations and even go beyond. They have a professional team of recruiters who are always responsive no matter what time of day it is. Their quality of field work cannot be faulted.

I will continue to utilise their professional services and without a doubt would recommend them to potential clients.

Venetia Amato, Venetia Amato Research

In the world of innovation, we often have to move quickly and work with tight deadlines. The Brand Surgeon always deliver for us, which is why we use them time and time again!

Jonathan Fraser, Lucky Beard

We used The Brand Surgeon to conduct some specialised new product healthcare concept testing and we found them excellent, the approach and expertise really made a difference to the outcome.

Craig Taylor, NetcarePlus

Working with The Brand Surgeon is like flying first class. Alison and her team have conducted our recruitment for the past 15 years and we wouldn’t choose anyone else to work with. As specialist qualitative researchers, the quality of our work is dependent on finding the right respondents and The Brand Surgeon are superb at this – the most challenging part of any research project. They are tenacious, committed, professional, tireless and have a remarkable ‘can-do’ attitude. We are always amazed how they manage to keep smiling through the most difficult projects and deliver every time. We love working with them and would have no hesitation in recommending The Brand Surgeon.

Bridget Baalbergen & Sarah Bovim, b2 Insight

Really enjoy working with The Brand Surgeon team over the last 2 years. We worked with them on several projects and always impressed by the level of commitment as well as ensuring that they meet the brief as well as how cost effective they are.

Tammy Darroch, Kellogg’s

The Brand Surgeon team has assisted Spur with great qualitative research for our Kids offering. The team is wonderful to work with, always helpful, accommodating, and willing to go the extra mile.

Melissa Edem, Spur Corporation

I would give a huge recommendation for The Brand Surgeon team, specifically their ability to identify and recruit people in high LSM groups, high net worth individuals and clients. I don’t know if there’s anyone else in the country who can do it. I also believe they have a huge amount of skill in dealing with very complex research requirements and recruitment criteria and they can navigate that very well and manage that entire process. They can deal with very large sample sizes and ensure very low drop-off rates; they are very committed to getting a job done well and on time. Their solutions focused approach to dealing with clients is very much appreciated.

Mark Drummond, Neural Sense

The Brand Surgeon team are world class researchers – I’ve had the pleasure of working with them across a few different clients and across methodologies. They are skilled research designers, moderators and analysts and they’re always open to thinking out of the box to deliver interesting methodologies to explore key questions. They’re passionate, enthusiastic, and super service orientated – focused on delivering those ah-ha insights and fresh recommendations.

Misti Watson, C Suite Africa

The Brand Surgeon has always offered us great support in the recruitment environment. Alison takes on projects with flair and tenacity and communicates project progress well.

She surrounds herself with amazing team members, and all of them are equally professional and great at communicating re hitches on projects.

Because of this, I tend to contract The Brand Surgeon to tackle my more difficult projects and know that they will do their utmost to meet (very difficult!) targets.

Tani Pretorius, Median Co

Action Breaks Silence can only speak highly of The Brand Surgeon team. They are professional, focused, and efficient and work with our team in a harmonious and cohesive way. Alison works closely with us every step of the way and the charity is expertly guided and supported through the processes. The reports and data analytics are of very high quality and add value to our reporting.

Niki Hall-Jones, Action Breaks Silence

Working with The Brand Surgeon is like flying first class. Alison and her team have conducted our recruitment for the past 15 years and we wouldn’t choose anyone else to work with. Since we are specialist qualitative researchers, the quality of our work is dependent on finding the right respondents and The Brand Surgeon are superb at this – the most challenging part of any research project. They are tenacious, committed, professional, tireless and have a remarkable ‘can-do’ attitude. We are always amazed how they manage to keep smiling through the most difficult projects and deliver every time. We love working with them and would have no hesitation in recommending The Brand Surgeon.

Bridget Baalbergen & Sarah Bovim, b2 Insight

Working with Alison and her team is an absolute pleasure. They are always able to respond quickly and meet our specific participant recruitment needs, I would recommend them to anyone!

Wynand McCabe, Lucky Beard

Respondent Recruitment Services (RRS) has had business interaction with The Brand Surgeon for a total of 5 years from 2017. We have used The Brand Surgeon for End-to-End Projects as well as part of project services such as recruiting of projects both big and small.

We have found over the years an unfailing commitment by The Brand Surgeon to a quality of work that is uncompromising. They have strived to deliver an excellent service that is as consistent, as it is excellent. They strive to always deliver quality work, on time and show a flexibility in process that is essential to the Research Industry.

Their staff have always gone way beyond expectations in their delivery and no request is ever too much.

We can only strongly recommend The Brand Surgeon and consider them an asset to our Company, process, and the Research industry.

Diane Byerley, Respondent Recruitment Services

Get A Quote

If you have a request, send us a brief of your research needs. Simply fill in the form and we’ll get back to you.

    Really organized and go out of their way to keep you updated. Friendly workers and always keep their word when it comes to the survey’s. They do everything very professionally.

    Shannon-Lee Wright

    I love doing market research events with The Brand Surgeon. The focus groups are always interesting and relevant. The groups are always small and very well organised. They pay very well and on time and it’s really worth participating in the groups. I would definitely recommend The Brand Surgeon.

    Nicole W

    What a trustworthy platform. Since day one, I’ve never had any problem with The Brand Surgeon. I’ve been answering surveys and they never disappointed me. Sometimes I do surveys that pay a lot of money for about R1200, and they pay in time. If the payment date is the 24th, then exactly the 24th I get my money without any problem with them. I give them 5 stars because they are trustworthy and never disappoint, they pay in time and all your money. I recommend to someone who ever need to make some extra money. He/she can join the platform such an excellent job of what they do to us. The payments are e-wallet, airtime and straight to your bank account

    Nsindiso P

    I personally think companies benefit a lot from consumer insights given and collected by The Brand Surgeon because their sessions target the correct consumers for companies that will be launching new products and concepts. I remember I once went to one session, the sessions participants in the room came from different backgrounds, it was inclusive, there was equity and diversity as well-meaning everyone was represented amongst different aspects in the country. I think they are one of the leading market research companies in the country.

    Anesu W

    Great platform. They always delivery what they promised.

    Lungile C

    I have had an amazing experience with The Brand Surgeon. I got to try out
    some premium brand diapers and provide them with my experience as a
    mother, and my babies experience using the diapers. I really admired the time
    and detail they put into analysing the product, it made me feel great to know
    that a company like this exists that is so particular about a consumers experience to ensure we get the best value for our money.

    Edwina D

    I’ve had several invitations to take part in their survey but unfortunately didn’t qualify. I did my first survey recently and it was nothing short of amazing. I loved their professionalism and friendliness which made me more excited about taking part in that project. My kid also thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Their approach to market research is eloquent, not forceful, and desperate. I enjoyed the mini chats and was glad to have provided my insights! Their clients should be very happy to have them on board! Brilliant team!

    Pali M

    I had a very good experience with the company, from having a wide range of surveys for different kinds of participant profile. Not to mention the quick payment after you have done the survey and their payments are good and reasonable. This company is very quick to respond when you enquire. I can definitely recommend The Brand Surgeon.

    Nosiphokazi S

    Wow! I messed up and gave my wrong bank details for a survey, my mistake. I emailed them and they replied promptly and then followed up with two calls and confirmed all in order. Wow! Really going the extra mile for my own error.

    Paul R

    Absolutely legit research company. Amazing team as well.

    Lindiwe L

    I have been with brand surgeon for almost 5 years and every time a participate in their surveys, I enjoy as they are professional and they do pay in time, no need to do follow up. Thank you Brand Surgeon.

    Lizzie M

    The Brand Surgeon surveys. I love them so much; their surveys are interesting and have good rewards. I would recommend them to others. This is a survey site that you can earn money for completing surveys. They are quick, fun, and easy to do. This is a great way for a side income. I love The Brand Surgeon.

    Seipati M

    Companies using The Brand Surgeon really get the best ROI on their products & services because the guys know the right people for the right market research and insights. Their platform will expand and enhance your knowledge, they are very interactive Lol even if you are an introvert, you gonna have something to say with the kind of fun that is had in those sessions.

    Esau S

    There are many research companies that promise people rewards after completing surveys, but many do not come back to fulfil their promises. The Brand Surgeon is one Marketing/Research companies that are trustworthy and reliable. When they promise a reward, they deliver on it. Well done to them.

    Puisano P

    An extremely pleasant experience working with The Brand Surgeon, and an
    extremely trustworthy team. Everything is thoroughly explained, and a friendly
    helpful team is always available to answer any questions. The team is very
    transparent and there are no hidden agendas. Payments were done on time as
    promised. And the team is always in communication with you. Responses to
    questions are quick. An absolute pleasure working with them.

    Terry-Anne Gordon

    I have done 2 or 3 surveys with The Brand Surgeon and they do not give the runner arounds with regards to the payment. The surveys are always interesting to do, especially online or via Zoom. I would recommend it anytime of the day. Keep up the good work. I hope to do more surveys in the near future.

    Masechaba K

    My experience with The Brand Surgeon was really pleasant. I was called by one of their team explaining in detail what the focus group I was participating in about. A friendly and guiding conversation made the entire experience wholesome. They stayed in contact with me and kept communication till the very end when I received my incentive for assisting with their project. They really are caring and would recommend them to anyone willing to share their opinion with them!

    Brandon N

    How do I sign up?

    Click the “Join for free” button in top right corner of our website and fill in the information that is asked for.

    Signing up is FREE and QUICK!

    Can I refer a friend to sign up?

    Yes, you can. Once you have signed up to our platform, you are able to share a unique link that is specifically made for you.

    Do I get rewarded for referring a friend?

    Yes! You get 10 points for every completed profile that signs up through your unique referral link. This means that the people that sign up to our platform through your link need to complete their full profile before you are awarded for referring them.

    How do I become an ambassador?

    When we are working on large projects which require a lot of respondents to answer a survey. We appoint ambassadors from our current database in different provinces who will be tasked with the responsibility of sending out links to a survey and getting respondents who qualify, to answer them completely. As ambassadors you will get a small recruitment fee for each person that completes a survey. Refer as many people as you can to our platform, and you will have a higher chance of being selected as an ambassador.

    How do I qualify for research?

    To qualify for research, you need to provide honest information about you which will be used to make sure that you get the right surveys.

    What information is needed from me to do research?

    We need a variety of information about you, eg, your age, where you live, are you employed, do you have any medical conditions etc

    Why do you need so much information about me?

    This is so that we minimise the number of qualifying (pre-screener) questions that we always must ask and so that you receive research that applies to you.

    Can I change or update my information?

    Yes. You can update your information at any given time or day.

    How many points do I need to cash out?

    To be able to request a cash out of your points, you need a minimum of 1000 points.

    How do I cash out? /How do I get paid?

    You can cash out in 3 different ways; you can get cash, airtime/data or you can donate your points.

    How long does it take for my cash out to be processed?

    Your cash out takes up to 2 working days to be fully approved, then your cash out is made to you and reflects within 24-48hrs.

    How can I earn more points?

    You can earn points by participating in in-depth interviews, focus groups and completing surveys. You earn points by sharing the link to our survey platform with others and getting them to join our database.

    How do I unsubscribe?

    You log in to the platform and click on the “profile” section and then scroll down to opt out.

    What types of research does The Brand Surgeon do?

    We use qualitative and quantitative methods of research such as focus groups, in depth interviews, mystery shopping as well as surveys.

    Why am I not getting any research?

    Your profile may have incomplete or outdated information, please check that you have updated all your information.

    The information you provided on your profile is inconsistent and you are unable to be used for research

    How long do surveys take to complete?

    Paid surveys take 5-15 minutes to complete depending on the kind of information that is sought after by our client.

    How can I increase my chances of receiving research?

    Keep your profile updated. The more we know about you, the better. Clients are always looking for specific respondents and we can only know certain information if you provide it to us.

    Is there a limit on the amount of research I can participate in?

    You can attempt a maximum of 4 short surveys per month and you may participate in a maximum of 2 focus groups/In-depth interviews per year.

    What happens if I have been inactive for 6 months or more?

    Your information will be marked as outdated and will not be used to include you in research studies that you could potentially participate in.

    Why do I get kicked out of some surveys?

    This is because you filled you the information too quickly without reading the questions.

    Your answers were inconsistent.

    You did not fit the survey’s target group.

    Even if we have variety of profile surveys, sometimes our clients need a very specific target group. In that case, we might invite you to surveys on speculation – maybe you fit that very specific target group, maybe you don’t.

    Your target group quota is already full. Sometimes it can happen that a target group fills quickly and is then closed. For this reason, it is always recommended that you participate in the survey as soon as possible.

    Someone from the same IP address has already taken part in this survey.

    How is it possible that someone from the same IP address had already taken part in some surveys?

    Often it is a special request from our clients that only one person from the same IP address may participate in some of our surveys. This means you might on occasion be kicked out from a survey because: people who live in the same household or work in the same company, share the same IP, Internet/mobile providers change user IP’s frequently and someone from the same IP address has already participated in the survey. We regret the inconvenience this may cause you, but this is a technical issue and there is not much we can do.

    What can I do when I cannot answer a survey?

    It’s generally recommended for you to take part in surveys as soon as possible when you receive the invitation e-mail for the survey- so that you will be able to take part before the survey ends. Sometimes we need your participation rather quickly, but we will give you an estimated time of when the survey will close. If you have problems viewing the survey, please first try to copy he link from the invitation e-mail and paste it to your usual browser, and maybe one other browser. If it still doesn’t work, please contact us including the specific link you received so that we can trace the issue quickly.

    How safe is my data?

    Member data is strictly confidential and kept in a secure, encrypted database. We never sell or otherwise pass on your personal or contact details to third parties, so you won’t have to worry about spam. For further information please click here to read our privacy policy here.

    Contact Us

    Respondent Enquiries

    Send our team an email at surveys@thebrandsurgeon.co.za

    We are a small team, so please allow us 3-5 business days to respond. Please be assured that any enquiries raised will only be dealt with by The Brand Surgeon staff, and that none of your personal details will be shared with any third parties.

    Business Enquiries

    Email alison@thebrandsurgeon.co.za

    Get in touch to find out more about our bespoke research solutions, fieldwork capabilities, and how we can help

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