Best practices for conducting primary market research during COVID-19

primary market research during COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to keep several parts of the world locked down, there is an emerging shift in consumer behavior across sectors. More consumers are focusing on needs over wants. In fact, experts predict a permanent shift across several industries, with many consumer habits expected to stick post-COVID-19. With the pandemic giving rise to new trends and behaviors, we need market research now more than ever to understand the impact and determine the best way forward. But with rising social restrictions, market researchers face unprecedented challenges conducting primary research during COVID-19 and in gathering data using traditional approaches.

Traditional methods of face-to-face interviews and personal interactions with respondents are out of the question with the risk factors involved. Researchers need to explore improved ways to conduct primary research in the current scenario. We spoke to our research team to understand the best practices organizations should implement while conducting primary market research during COVID-19. Here’s what they recommend.

Switch to online methods

Needless to say, digital has taken over and become a fundamental necessity in keeping businesses afloat. This change from physical to virtual has brought with it a host of changes across sectors and industries. For researchers, this primarily means the loss of one of the prime modes of data collection: physical interaction and face-to-face interviews. This, however, does not mean that primary data collection should be completely halted. Rather, researchers must adopt all-online models, such as online surveys and social listening, to obtain the required knowledge and guidance that decision-makers need.

Telephonic interviews are best avoided, as more people now prefer sharing insights through digital methods like online forms, mobile surveys, e-forums, and online focus groups while in a work from home setup. With people slowly adapting to telework, questionnaires and surveys can be filled in their own time.

Further, with most firms experiencing budget restrictions, online approaches offer tremendous cost savings compared to offline ones.

Be sensitive to your respondents’ current environment  

Being sensitive to the situation and phrasing the questionnaire accordingly will help humanize the survey. In the absence of physical interaction, establishing a sense of trust can be challenging. With the lack of social interaction, respondents need to feel a sense of purpose and empathy. Taking these factors into consideration is key to developing effective questionnaires.

Remember that the people taking the survey are humans like you, experiencing new changes in their lives. Avoid asking questions that are too personal, unless absolutely necessary. Stick to the topic and keep the questions relevant. Identify focus groups and structure your questionnaires accordingly.

Consider including a pre-survey introduction to explain the research objectives, while keeping in mind the current sentiment. If you wish to obtain personal insight, an optional blank section at the end could be inserted, leaving it up to the respondents to share their opinions.

Maintain respondent confidentiality and let them know that their data is safe. This not only ensures quality responses with honest feedback but also greatly increases the number of participants willing to take the survey. Further, respondents are more willing to share detailed answers when promised confidentiality and anonymity.

Keep surveys short and simple

When engaging in virtual interactions with respondents while conducting primary research during COVID-19, there is no time for personal rapport building. The virtual space offers little room for building trust and giving purpose and reason to the respondent. Rapport can now only be built with a brief yet well-formulated and structured questionnaire. Remember, you are taking up someone’s valuable time. Lengthy surveys and interviews can cause respondents to lose interest and even abandon the survey. Keep surveys brief and use simple language. Be clear in your objective and get to the point quickly. The ideal survey length should not exceed 15 minutes. This will help maintain good incidence rates and obtain quality responses.

Remember to structure the questionnaire well. Avoid open-ended questions that leave room for obscurity. Ensure that all your questions are close-ended and purpose-driven. Surveys that are concise, brief, and targeted to the correct audience, will garner higher response rates. Additionally, ensure that your survey is relevant and relates to your target groups. This helps optimize data collection and drive higher engagement.

With the expansion of the virtual space and increased online dependence, now is the time to stay on top of the game and keep abreast with the rapid shifts in the market and across industries. The need for customer insights now is more important than ever to understanding market shifts and support critical business decisions. In these uncertain times, it’s important to join hands, be sensitive to one another and value these human chains of interdependence.

With over two decades of expertise in market, consumer, and technology insights, we at Netscribes are adapting to the changing needs and looking beyond conventional research methodologies to support firms. A full-service research partner for enterprises, we offer actionable insights using digital approaches such as online surveys, interviews, and social media listening.

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