Doing Research During COVID-19 Pandemic

Several clients have asked us whether they should be conducting research right now given that consumers’ eyes, ears and hearts are all focused on COVID-19. Consumers are anxious, many are depressed, they couldn’t possibly tell us about what they’re planning to do when things “come back to normal”; doing research right now would be downright “irresponsible” said one client.

There’s no question we are in a state of flux, even the experts can’t agree on what the new normal will be nor when that will occur. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods will have to adapt. Rather than continue to ask standard research questions in a vacuum, we have to respect consumers where they are right now; for when we do, we find that they want to participate fully in research. 

For respondents, research can be a welcome diversion; it can be fun when it’s gamified, thought provoking when questions are relevant, and of course, there’s the monetary reward for participation. 

For clients there are rewards of a different sort. We know going in that consumers are changing behaviors and re-assessing their values, but how? How are consumers adapting to this new reality, what are their expectations of brands right now? Whether it’s through segmentation studies, tracking studies or virtual qualitative work such as online communities, these adaptations and attitudes can be measured. 

So, is this is a good time to do research? YES! I would argue that in order to nimbly manage change it’s critical for brands to connect with all their stakeholders; consumers, investors, employees and the communities they touch. Consumers have high expectations of brands and reward those that are considerate of their feelings and needs. In recent research with young consumers we found that nearly four out of five (78%) have less tolerance for regular advertising and 86% what to hear about what brands are doing to help. Brands we need you, we need better communication, if you’d only ask. 

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