With our work lives disrupted due to COVID-19 shutdowns, we’ve written a number of blogs about how to continue with market research by shifting to online focus groups. Even though it isn’t currently possible to conduct in-person studies, many qualitative methodologies can easily be shifted to online platforms.
With many companies scrambling to better understand how shopping behavior has changed in a pandemic, there is no better time to commission a market study. Qualitative research methodologies such as focus groups and in-depth interviews can easily be done virtually, but to get the most out of online formats, research consultants need to do additional work to get maximum value.
While there are a number of online platforms that researchers can use, many researchers opt for Zoom, because so many people are now familiar with this platform. Hosting online market research studies can be frustrating given the inevitable technical glitches or the extra energy required to get participants to be comfortable sharing insights over an online platform. To get the most out of virtual market studies, researchers are adding an additional layer to online qualitative research studies to better understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind consumers’ behaviors.
Before hosting an online focus group, participants may be asked to participate in a mobile ethnography study. Adding a mobile ethnography layer to the study is a great way to capture ‘in the moment’ thinking giving moderators more to explore and probe during a virtual focus group or in-depth interview. The benefits of including a mobile ethnography layer to a qualitative study includes:
– With more data being captured over a number of days, researchers have more time to get to know the research participants.
– Because participants record what they do as they do it, there are minimal post-rationalization biases.
– The data captured is contextualized. Participants may be tasked with recording a video on their smartphone while they are engaged in the activity being focused on in the study. Capturing behaviors in real-time reduces the self-censoring that people inadvertently do when asked to recall an action after the fact.
With this additional information, researchers have a deeper and more contextualized understanding of what drives consumers’ behaviors and they can focus on these areas during an online focus group or in-depth interview.