2020 Research Trends

How Do You Research? 2020 Update

We asked

You answered

You know what insights you collect, and how, but do you ever wonder what others do? We did, particularly with the unexpected times that have transpired with 2020. So we asked. Here’s the results from our third annual ‘How do you research’ survey. A big thank you to our 154 participants.

Researching Online surveys

How often

As with previous years, well over two-thirds of you are conducting some form of research monthly or more frequently. Interestingly, there’s a slight uptick in frequency over 2019.
















Researching Online surveys

Approaches used

Year-on-year there’s no real change to the broad types of approaches being used (i.e. surveys, interviews, focus groups, ethnographies). However, when digging into mode, we see a substantial surge in the use of the internet as COVID-19 restrictions pause in-person approaches.

surveys, interviews, focus groups, ethnographies
FocusVision Decipher Research

Ethnography or in-home / onsite research


34% -10% YOY

Online diary, bulletin board or community


47% +4% YOY

Usability study


42% +3% YOY

Other qualitative methodology


30% +1% YOY

The move to online has pros and cons.


More creative

It has made us get more creative in how we interview consumers since we cannot travel, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how much can be done via [online] platforms.

More digital

We’ve gone more digital, which has both made personal connection with participants harder, BUT made research more nimble and we’ve had some great online groups.


Focus mini groups

We are doing focus mini groups, more than 4 participants plus moderator is impossible.

A new set of sillks

We have moved all focus groups online rather than having them in person. This has required a new set of skills (online moderation, changes to the recruitment process, working with online group providers) which took time to get to grips with but now works pretty well, as far as technology/internet connections allow.

Decipher Survey Software


There continues to be a wide variety of areas being researched, with customer experience remaining the most prevalent. There’s a slight increase in Brand Equity / Perceptions, Product / Service Development and in Market Segmentation research year-over-year.




Decipher Surveys
Online Decipher Surveys

You’re interested in…

There continues to be a wide variety of areas being researched, with customer experience remaining the most prevalent. There’s a slight increase in Brand Equity / Perceptions, Product / Service Development and in Market Segmentation research year-over-year.




FocusVision Online Surveys

While Mobile has been an industry focus for over a decade now, there’s still room for improvement, particularly in what research technology can offer.

Participants can easily join on mobile, and there is no trouble to support them.

Custom conjoint for mobile friendly.

Overall, good innovations to survey design and mobile compatibility. Those are important, in addition to continued development of new question types.

Decipher Software

Your top five frustrations are…

Budget and sample quality remain the top frustrations, although both dipped slightly compared to previous years. Perhaps unsurprisingly given how quickly the world changed, frustrations around speed to insight grew. “Making it easier to do analysis, because the clients want everything fast after fieldwork is complete.”




Maybe due to COVID and more people being at home to participate in research, it seems that the quality of respondents in quant studies can be quite bad. We have had to discard up to 10% of respondents due to panelists going through the questionnaire super fast (not paying attention to their answers), making up nonsensical answers for brand usage questions, picking all the same responses in tables of questions, getting the red herring question wrong, etc. It is a hassle to have to weed out bad respondents.

Research 2020

Covid-19 and Budgets, Pros and Cons


It is interesting that reported budget concerns are lower rather than higher.. Perhaps this is a result of an increased need for insights given the dramatic change, indicated in comments on how COVID has impacted your research….

It has grown it exponentially as people need to understand the new normal better

More research about changing behaviours, impact of the pandemic on the consumer lifestyle

Counter intuitively, business has INCREASED!


However, these comments are not universal , many of you note that COVID has negatively impacted research studies.

Team is smaller and forced to manage cash outlay better.

Many studies were put on hold or cancelled.

It’s postponed it as this is not regular business and not ready to deal with what the new post COVID [world] will look like.

Budget cuts so can’t do some quant and no qual.

Surveys 2020

The one thing you’d change…

What would make your life easier? Beyond sample and budget challenges, relationships with stakeholders bubble up, particularly around the value of the research and being part of the conversation at the right time.

Make people genuinely understand the importance of research.

I need the top brass at my company to see the value in qualitative research. Easy is not my goal; making actionable change through qualitative research is my goal.

Clients accepting the truth in the data.

Be more involved in high level discussions… before a research request is issued.

Flexibility — our stakeholders often take a long time to align on things from the objectives to final approval on the survey, but at the same time they want results as quickly as possible. Being able to find the balance between taking the time to do things right but also having insights more quickly would be helpful.

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