COVID-19 has caused a lot of disruptions to the workplace, and market research is no exception. In past blogs, we’ve talked about some of the ways that market research is adapting due to COVID-19.
Given the ongoing physical distancing restrictions in place, market research is mostly conducted using virtual platforms. While these virtual platforms have been in use for years, since the start of the pandemic they’ve really come into their own. Even when our routines return to pre-pandemic levels, we expect that many researchers will continue to use online qualitative market research platforms at higher rates than before the pandemic.
Given some of the overlap that some of the online platforms share, we thought it would be helpful to provide some clarity about the differentiators between them.
Four of the more popular and frequently used online qualitative market research platforms in use include: Online (virtual) focus groups; Mobile ethnography and diary apps; Discussion forums and bulletin boards; and natural testing research.
1. Online or Virtual Focus Group Platforms
Similar to in-person focus groups, moderators structure their online focus groups to include between 6-8 participants with a running length between 1-1.5 hours. Read our past blog to learn more about getting the most out of online focus groups.
2. Discussion Forums and Bulletin Boards
Rather than recruit participants for a specific day and time to participate in a focus group, discussion forums and bulletin boards will sometimes run for days or weeks. A moderator manages these platforms and will add questions or prompts at varying times. To ensure engagement throughout the whole study, participants are sent reminders or notices when there is a new question or topic posted.
3. Mobile Ethnography and Diary Platforms
Mobile ethnographies and mobile diary apps are a popular tools for researchers to access contextualized insights. Participants may be asked to upload a video immediately after completing a set task or be prompted with questions to answer throughout the day. When looking to capture ‘in the moment’ insights many market researchers turn to mobile ethnography and diary apps.
4. Natural Testing Research
There has been a dramatic uptick in online shopping since the pandemic. Companies are wise to focus on UX and UI design to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for consumers. Market researchers will design studies to capture user reactions as they engage with apps and websites.
Natural testing research studies often record the participant as they engage with a digital platform. The insights learned from natural testing research can be invaluable for companies.