If there is a silver lining to the disruption caused by Covid-19, for the market research industry, it is that researchers have had to quickly adapt to mobile methodologies. While such methodologies aren’t new to the industry, prior to Covid-19, they may not have been used to their full extent.
Not only have platforms to host online focus groups and in-depth interviews made it possible to continue with market research studies during the pandemic, it has given researchers the opportunity to reach more broadly distributed participants for each study. When conducting in-person focus groups, market research recruitment firms will tend to focus on a specific geographic region so participants can meet in-person. Depending the budget, researchers would try and have representative samplings from a broader area and would schedule in-person focus groups to take place in towns or cities across a region, or even the country.
Switching to mobile platforms or by incorporating mobile ethnographies into a study, allows researchers to reach a more geographically diverse group with no additional effort or expense flying or driving around to meet up with these groups.
Identifying and recruiting remains the same, whether for in-person or virtual qualitative market research studies, so there aren’t any additional costs associated with recruiting across a larger geographic region. In fact, because researchers don’t have to pay for a location to host an in-person study, or fly or drive to get there, there often ends up being more money available to add more people to participate in the market research study. It’s not that more is better, but it can sometimes allow researchers to add another persona-type to the study, or test out a concept on a different demographic that wouldn’t be included otherwise.
We’ve written a number of blogs that discuss how to get the most out of online focus groups, and some proven market research engagement approaches. The good news is that with some preparation and research, there is no reason that market research studies need to be put on hold or downgraded in quality just because they are shifting to virtual platforms.
Even when our patterns return to normal, we predict that online focus groups and other qualitative methodologies are here to stay. There are too many advantages to incorporating mobile platforms into studies that give researchers more options and more flexibility.