With the return of face-to-face market research this year, I have relished the opportunities to stretch my ‘in-situ muscles’ during shop alongs and in-home interviews. There’s an undeniable, electric energy that happens when you’re on the road, meeting participants in their natural environment, in their cities, homes, and local stores. However, the journey to “insights on the road” can sometimes be tricky. As a team, we’ve encountered broken water mains, cases of COVID, epic rental car lines, last-minute address changes, delayed store permissions, and 90+ degree heat…just to name a few!
I joined the insights industry during the pandemic, so as someone newer to in-situ methodologies, I wanted to provide a fresh perspective on the trial and error I’ve experienced, navigating this Wild West of qualitative research. I have found that a successful project requires a solid game plan and, in many cases, a properly packed carry-on.
Here are a few of my In-Situ Research Travel Essentials:
#1: Pockets, pockets, pockets!
I really cannot stress the importance of this simple tool enough. Pockets are a game changer when it comes to keeping your hands free to take notes or capture video. Regardless of how well-packed your purse or backpack may be at the beginning of the day, you will most likely leave the research setting with your pockets filled to the brim with random microphones, charging cables, and project artifacts galore. Maybe it’s time that we consider cargo pants the official uniform of the in-situ professional?
#2 Vitamin C supplements
As I’m sure many people can relate, our immune systems have gone through the wringer adjusting to a post-quarantine world. Traveling lends its own set of challenges to #facetofaceMRX as researchers try to stay healthy not only for themselves but also for the participants and partners that we meet along the way. I always keep a medley of allergy relief medication handy to combat the ever-changing state-to-state pollen counts, but Vitamin C supplements are also a must. I prefer drink mix packets that I can easily shake into my water bottle when I’m on the road.
#3 Comfortable shoes
These boots were made for walking! When I was preparing for my first shop along trip, Katrina advised me to leave the heels at home and opt for a comfy pair of sneakers instead. Comfort is key to having a successful day of fieldwork, so properly supportive footwear is essential when you’re on your feet all day. If your back still aches regardless of your Dr. Scholl’s, consider investing in a mini foam roller to stretch out your sore muscles. Many come in travel-friendly sizes that can easily fit into your carry-on!
With these three simple essentials packed away in your suitcase, you’ll be unstoppable on your next adventure in the field. Bon voyage!
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#travel #bootsontheground #shopalongs