At KNow Research we spent much of 2020 iterating, pivoting, and staying as agile as possible to meet the ever-shifting needs of consumer insights during the pandemic. While we are definitely not out of the weeds yet, and while in-person global/international market research will take more time to rebound, we recently connected as a group to consider what’s next for research. What will happen now that we’ve all gone a full year working in research online during the pandemic, and things will be “opening back up” soon?
We discussed our perspectives and predictions for how research/working in research have changed in the past year, and what it will look like in the months ahead. Here are some thoughts from our team to hopefully inspire conversations in yours.
Special thanks to Sonya Shen and Molly Stafford Mastey for your thoughtful input!
Even though many things changed, and we had to think through things differently, it all came down to designing solutions to meets our client’s objectives. The challenges might have been different, but really this is at the core of what our agency is built on, and something that we treat as our first priority, no matter what’s going on in the world around us.
And this is how we’ll continue! We’ll start with the objectives, consider all the tools in our toolbox, and choose the right combination of those tools to uncover the insights.
Leveraging Broader Toolsets
We’ve been a #digitalqual company since 2008, embracing both synchronous and asynchronous approaches (often combining them into hybrid approaches that give us and our clients the best of both worlds). But 2020 really opened the industry’s eyes up to the possibilities and benefits of online and mobile qualitative. Clients who had been tentative about trying non-in-person approaches finally made the transition last year and have relished the opportunity to connect with a nationwide audience smoothly and easily through digital techniques.
And since comfort levels will likely vary for the long term, we need to keep ALL the tools at play. We know that while some participants and clients will jump at the chance to return to in-person research, others may feel more comfortable sticking with virtual research and virtual meetings. This means it’s even more important to keep multiple methods in the consideration set and to leverage hybrid/mixed method design on projects that would benefit from a mix of both in-person and virtual research.
With many companies still working remotely until September – or even indefinitely – recruiting participants to stop by for in-person research on a lunch hour or after work may be a challenge. Depending on location, traditional focus group facilities in larger, downtown markets may need more time or incentive to fulfill a recruit. And we need to keep our participants’ preferences in mind too! Some may be ready for in-person interaction but may not want to be in a stuffy focus group room (and really, was that ever the most conducive setting for empathic connections?).
This makes our preferred approach of choosing non-traditional locations closer to where people live even more of a benefit than it was in 2019, and we’ll continue to source spaces that are convenient, secure, and inviting to ensure participants and clients have the most comfortable experiences going back into the field. In-situ sessions, outdoor gatherings, and alternative well-ventilated meeting locations are going to be our go-to research sites whenever possible.
And don’t forget your Zoom password! Virtual research (and virtual kick-off meetings, co-creation sessions, workshops, and presentations) will likely be the norm as offices decentralize and teams realize the benefits of distributed teams (like ours at KNow!).