How Do You Research 2020 Update: ‘Traditional Research Has Gone Online’

How Do You Research 2020 Update: 'Traditional Research Has Gone Online'

The results of our third annual ‘How Do You Research’ survey are here. Given the global pandemic and ensuing in-person restrictions, there is a notable but unsurprising shift to online research. There are also some intriguing unchanged findings around budgets and mobile. Read on for key findings.

Online Qualitative Goes Mainstream

Surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups all remain primary data collection approaches used at consistent levels year-on-year. However, the use of online notably increased for all approaches (even surveys).

Online Qualitative Goes Mainstream

This shift isn’t surprising – while much of the world sheltered in place, questions about customers and their lives continued so research moved to the available modes. The question is whether the shift is permanent or temporary until in-person can be resumed with ease.

I’ll wager that we’ve witnessed a true change to how many qualitative studies are conducted. This is not to say that face-to-face qualitative will not resume, it will, but at far decreased levels compared with pre-pandemic levels.

This view is supported in the data. There are clear pros and cons to online. On the plus side, it eliminates the need for travel, enhances speed to insight, and reduces cost. Furthermore, as researchers get over initial qualms with what is a new approach to many, they are finding creativity and experimentation is delivering successful results.

On the other hand, there is still frustration about the limitations, not least group size as online is optimal with around four or five participants as opposed to the usual six to ten feasible in face-to-face. I believe some of the limitations will be overcome as comfort with the approach grows. That said, there are questions and interactive activities that will always be better in-person so these will return.

Budgets (and Sample) Remain Top Frustrations

Given the economic impact of COVID-19, it is expected that budgets top the frustrations chart, as it has done every year. However, the number of you citing budget frustrations dropped slightly year-on-year. Looking into the open-ends, it could be that there’s a tale of two cities. For some, COVID has meant increased demand for research to meet the need to understand rapidly changing consumer sentiment and behavior. For others, COVID has meant smaller teams, research on hold, and budget cuts.

Online Qualitative Goes Mainstream

Mobile Stays Top of Mind

When asked about what trends and developments are of interest, yet again mobile is most prominent. This is a little surprising given mobile has been an industry focus for over a decade. However, it clearly shows that we’ve still got work to be done to elevate mobile techniques and deliver a positive participant experience.

Online Qualitative Goes Mainstream

Are you surprised by any of these results? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

To see all the findings, take a look at the How Do You Research? 2020 Update Infographic.

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