The Future of Qual – Pivoting to Digital

Posted on 19th August 2020 by Berlin in Uncategorized

The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for many in market research over the past few months – not least those working in the qual space, with the abrupt if temporary removal of the much-loved f2f groups and depths.

It’s also been invigorating. The pivot to digital – enforced in early Q1 – has been an energizing eye-opener.

A few months, countless Zoom sessions and digital projects later, we can honestly say: digital qual really does work for many more qual briefs and tasks than we would have thought possible at the end of 2019.

It’s different to offline qual, true; and there are a different set of challenges – managing shorter attention spans, working with background disturbances, prepping differently for example – but digital depth online isn’t a problem per se.

We’ve expanded our toolkit accordingly.

Digital Concept Labs for example – this consumer re-working process works just as well digitally as offline, the techniques we use to help transform rough ideas into fine-tuned concepts are equally powerful online. There are fantastic tools for Online Workshops both as part of Concept Labs as well as, as a stand-alone.


Or eTrack®, our proven qual-quant pre-testing tool: having worked extensively with a digitally adapted version over the past months, we can confirm that it works just as well online in terms of outputs – delivering robust guidance on which ideas to take forward. In some aspects – its ability to scale for example, and cross geographies easily – it’s superior.

We’ll be sharing more news about this in the coming days.


For more straightforward briefs such as packaging or concept tests, online screen-to-screen interviews have consistently delivered robust and timely outputs. Digital focus groups also work well – particularly with smaller groups of 4 – 6 participants and shorter sessions.


In the area of UX: we will be launching PX or People Experience in the coming weeks, a new approach to UX research, enriching traditional UX tools with People Understanding, notably contextual enquiries and mobile ethnographies.

Our co-creation tool Panorama Groups is now also available digitally – as is our storytelling approach TrueStories.

We will be updating details on all of these in the coming weeks – so watch this space.



Alongside our toolkit expansion, we’ve also taken on board the power of digital in a more embracing sense – setting ourselves the expanded goal of becoming the leading qual consultancy for digital insights.

H/T/P has a solid digital track record to build on: we’ve worked for over a decade and many hundreds of projects with our First@thePool online community platform – we were one of the first agencies to work with MROCs in Europe.

Our mobile ethnography app Happisodes has delivered hundreds of in-the-moment insights over the past 7 – 8 years.

We’re also expanding our capabilities through partnerships. We have entered into a co-operation with leading crowd-sourcing agency Jovoto to help manage the shift from insights to ideas more smoothly and swiftly.

And we will be intensifying our collaboration with leading Social Listening speciaists Bakamo Social to help make sense of online conversations.


There’s more here too – so we’ll keep you posted.

Whilst we’ve adjusted our goal, and raised the bar on our digital ambitions, the core of what makes H/T/P different – People Understanding – remains the same.

And it’s needed now more than ever in these extremely confusing times.

Our belief is that sensitive and professional qualitative research becomes even stronger by embracing digital more energetically – helping companies get to the “why?” in an agile, eco-optimised and cost-effective manner across the globe.

And if a project design requires a mix of F2f and digital – what we call “digilogue” – then fine with us.

If you’re interested to find out more – please get in touch.

You can read more about our learnings in digital qual over the past few months in a two-part series published on Esomar here:

Article part 1 of 2

Article part 2 of 2


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