market research strategy for the pandemic


Doing market research during this pandemic is more important than ever. Millward Brown blogs, “Evidence from past crises finds that how brands react and communicate has a big influence on their survival and how quickly their business recovers once the crisis has passed.” What should your company be doing to craft a market research strategy for the pandemic?

Reevaluate everything. Table or freeze your predictive studies for now, but keep longitudinal data collection going. Predictive studies have a built-in assumption that the future will be similar to today, but nothing seems that stable right now. Longitudinal data collection can be very revealing. says, “You’ll gain insight into what actions caused changes in trends, and be able to better prepare for the future.” Now is the time to pull out some of those techniques or questions you have always wanted to pursue but haven’t had the time for. Since Covid-19 has resolved the question of whether or not to do in-person research, just not possible yet, here are some techniques detailed in the May/June 2020 Quirk’ publication by Zach Mullen of Burke, Inc. and Varden Kirakosyan of MFour that could serve you well in creating a market research strategy for the pandemic.

Digital Ethnography

Respondents are home and are probably more willing to spend some time as subjects for your research. Observing them in their home can be very revealing, just be careful they don’t edit what you are seeing.

Online Bulletin Boards (OLBB)

These can either be a private diary or a public conversation. The respondent can upload photos and videos to provide rich content to open-ended questions. Just make sure you aren’t overwhelmed with content.

Telephone or Webcam In-depth Interviews (TDI or IDI)

People are more comfortable in their personal surroundings and respondents are often willing to dive deeper into their behavior and feelings. Subjects can add stimuli through screen shares. Zoom, anyone?

Web Based Focus Groups

Like ethnography, observation is very revealing. Some interpersonal interaction dynamics are lost as smaller groups are better for web based focus groups. The logistics of digital interaction are harder to manage if the group is large.

Mobile Research Tracker

Eighty-one percent of US adults own a smartphone and spend an average of three hours/day on the phone. This is an easy to reach, collective and representative audience. Companies can access millions of daily consumer journeys via a market research app. Tracking online and app behavior as well as details of ownership are all possible with behavioral data being added through a GPS tracker.

Need to hire a market researcher to help in crafting a market research strategy for the pandemic? Reach out to Smith Hanley Associates’ Market Research Recruiter, Lindsey Bartlett at [email protected].

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