Case Study: Primrose Schools

Preparing Primrose Schools 350+ franchise preschool owners for the next wave of parents.

The importance of early childhood development and preschool has been in the zeitgeist for a while now – policymakers, business, and working parents are aligned in a conversation about how critical it is to prepare young children. But prepare them for what? What’s missing in the dialogue is what today’s young parents value in child care and early education versus parents raising children pre-technology boom. Just about every touchpoint on the Parent Enrollment Journey has changed.


What outcomes matter the most to today’s parents? What information do they trust when deciding which preschool to enroll in? As they imagine the workforce of 2035, how will their child succeed?

The Executive Team at Primrose closely monitors engagement metrics and corresponding conversion rates. Data suggested that something was off in their positioning, content strategy, and messaging around the curriculum. Most school owners, while parents themselves, were not of the same generation as the majority of prospective parents.

We were asked to conduct primary research to understand where Primrose was losing parents’ attention and why enrollment was softening. First, we audited every qualitative study Primrose had invested in the previous 5 years – we wanted to know what their operating insights were. Then we designed and led an in-depth qualitative study built around ethnographic thinking: in context, observational, immersive. We engaged with parents through diaries, in-homes, ride-alongs, and school tours. All of the conversations were videotaped. Findings were edited into a narrative and delivered to Primrose executives in a visceral multi-media format.


Today’s parents have no delusions about the time their children will spend in child care. They want a preschool with shared values; they trust peers they personally know over experts or the crowd; a curriculum developing socialization, character, and getting along with others is paramount. 

Our insights were transformative to the business and inspired a new tagline, new content strategy, revised collateral, redesigned school tour, and owner training. The impact of our work was most dramatically seen in the metrics associated with brand tracking and content (#1 among all providers in Facebook engagement, ranking first in unaided awareness) and complete adoption of the updated messaging system wide at 350+ schools (10,500 owners, directors, and teachers completed an empathy exercise based on our work).


We were subsequently asked to be the keynote speakers at their annual Franchisee Strategic Summit. A year later, we conducted a deep study of Teachers to illuminate the realities of the job and life on a teacher’s salary.

Bad Babysitter’s approach to qualitative research with target consumers is masterful, and something we had not experienced before as a brand in our previous research projects. The intimate and trusting setting that they established with our research participants not only allowed for the insights we needed on our base project, but it also provided valuable perspective and informed many other areas of our marketing and business.
Paul Thaxton, Vice President of Brand Management, Primrose Schools

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