Seven Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Research in the Age of Coronavirus

Seven Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Research in the Age of Coronavirus

With COVID-19 disrupting day-to-day lives, we are all adjusting to a new normal.  And that includes researchers looking for ways to keep their insights moving forward – figuring out how to transition to digital approaches, thinking creatively about needs and objectives, and much more.

We understand that this situation brings lots of unknowns. So we’ve put together a list (and a short video) with answers to some of the most common questions we’ve been hearing from clients over the past few weeks.

1. Is now even the right time to be conducting research?

The simple and not-so-simple answer is, it depends.

Certainly industry matters. 

Take technology and entertainment.  Levels of engagement with products and platforms are higher than normal, making it a potentially great time to do research. Also, political issues remain top of mind for the general population. Pausing information gathering would create a gap in knowledge for this time period, which would be a disadvantage to those in this space.

In an industry like healthcare, where resources and personnel are stretched to the limit, research needs serious consideration. 

The travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, meanwhile, are facing an unprecedented time as well, and understandably much business-as-usual research may be on hold.  But current consumer sentiment research could provide key context, especially since so many consumers have had to interact with these providers and make changes to near- and long-term plans in ways they have never previously. 

But many clients have identified that this is exactly the time they should be conducting more research – and more qualitative research – to be sure the full context of the moment is captured and available to inform future plans once the situation levels out.

2. If I am doing research, how do I address the pandemic and still ensure I get the insights I need? 

We have seen the most success by addressing COVID-19 upfront, at the start of the discussion. This allows the respondents to open up and let out any frustrations (or moments of levity from their social distancing!) before the core of the research begins. 

3. Will respondents even agree to take part right now?

Since COVID-19, we have actually seen an increase in engagement from our nationwide panel. With more consumers at home, there has been an increase in activity on our panel social media pages, more availability to complete screeners, and increased time to answer confirmation calls – all of which has led to studies filling faster, and our panel actually growing at an increased rate.

4. Have participation rates for studies been affected?

We haven’t seen any impact on participation to date.  In fact with people adjusting to different schedules, we are seeing more willingness to participate in research. As an extra precaution, though, we are sending additional reminders to help participants stay on track throughout your research. 

5. Say my project does have to be delayed.  What are the implications of this for participants?

We get it.  It’s an uncertain time, and some things that were critical a few weeks ago just aren’t anymore. In this case, 20|20 (or your other recruiting partner) can inform the respondents and ask if they would be interested in taking part once the study is rescheduled. You may see some dropouts due to schedule changes, but we can easily replace any respondents that are unable to participate.

6. I haven’t done a lot of digital research.  How do I know which approach or platform is best?

With COVID-19 grounding face-to-face research, we are seeing in-person researchers unfamiliar with digital wonder how to best transition their research online. We have solutions that can accommodate everything from digital discussions, diaries, ethnographies and longer-term communities to virtual focus groups, IDIs and chats. If you’re new to digital research or just need a refresher on which method works best for your objective then reach out. Our team of 160+ is here to help.  

7. I really want to keep using “face-to-face” interaction and mimic in-person research.  What’s the advantage of using a research platform like QualMeeting, QualBoard or Over the Shoulder versus just using an available webinar system or video chat system? 

All of 20|20’s platforms were designed specifically with research in mind.  For QualMeeting in particular, we built the technology to mirror the experience you and your respondents would have in person – including a pre-session confirmation (which includes a technology check), a virtual lobby, live hosts and more.  Plus, for added security, 20|20 runs all studies with internally-created project-specific links, and we do not utilize any public-facing links for our studies. We also utilize a waiting room function, which requires that the assigned technician move moderators, observers and participants into the room. The technician cross-checks those in the waiting room against our list of approved moderators, observers and participants, and only moves those on the list into the room.  And that technician we mentioned is live, on your session, the entire time to assist if issues arise so you can make the most of your time with the participants. 

Have a question that isn’t on this list?  Just have some things you want to talk through?  We are here to help.