So we’ve tried to pull together what we know from our partners around the world to give a view on how we think the situation is impacting research activity.
We are doing our best to keeping our Happy Thinking spirit going and the last weeks have shown that research has been possible almost everywhere and seems to also have contributed to a small sense of normality for research participants in these unusual circumstances.
But these are exceptional times and today’s reality might be very different tomorrow. So we will update this report from week to week and keep you posted!
Stay safe everyone. Stay at home!
Sven Arn (for Happy Thinking People)
FIRST AND FOREMOST: CONSUMERS AND GLOBAL MARKETS
Research (online only, of course) is still running everywhere except the hardest hit cities and regions.
Research is still ongoing in Italy outside the most affected towns. Research projects ran throughout the lockdown in China.
Consumer participation and engagement in qualitative research is actually high at the moment.
A lot of people are stuck at home, have more time on their hands and really welcome the change and a bit of ‘normality’. They are quite able to reflect things generally and do not relate everything to the current situation.
Also it seems that many people are trying to live life as normally as possible and not over-immersing themselves with statistics and news feeds.
Maybe the naturally inquisitive research community is actually more stressed and anxious than some members of the general public?
RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS – WHO?
Obviously we should not be attempting to do any research with people who are essential to keeping our health systems and food distribution going.
It’s clear that as things develop we need to be a lot more careful during recruitment and make sure we react sensitively to the individual situation of our potential participants.
Our recruiters need to be aware that there are people out there who will currently not be in the right frame of mind to participate in research projects (e.g. if they have lost their jobs in the hospitality industry, where family members are directly affected etc.).
Rather than just screen people out, we suggest in the current situation, letting people participate if they want to – given, of course, that they fulfil the other recruitment criteria
AND IN TERMS OF MARKET RESEARCH PROJECT PLANNING?
We can all use this time well. We don’t think it is necessary to put everything on hold, but to think carefully about how we can do things differently during this period… and maybe also afterwards.
There is obviously a massive shift to digital within the Market Research business. Using tried-and-tested digital tools – including online communities, app-based mobile ethnography and ‘screen-to-screen’ interviews and groups – is a good solution for many projects.
It’s also clear that particular types of research are working well.
Concept evaluation and development, brand exploration, communications research all lend themselves well to online tools and consumer reactions don’t seem to be impacted significantly by the current situation.
Other research like exploratory, foundational insight research, attitudinal research can work too, but it needs to be designed carefully and probably differently to ‘normal’ circumstances.
Nobody knows how long this will last and, for now at least, consumers are quite able to distinguish between the fundamentals and current reality.
Good researchers provide the necessary analytical lens.
Signing off: There is light on the horizon. In China face-to-face interviews and groups are gradually starting up again.
We will keep you posted!