The 4 Types of Research You Should Run Right Now

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Posted May 06, 2020
Tiffany Mullin

Aytm’s insighter community currently hosts monthly roundtable events with client-side insights leaders from a variety of industries to have an open dialogue about what questions are surfacing, talk about what is working in research, and what isn’t and share ideas.

In this post, we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from our recent roundtable discussion. 

Turning Uncertainty into Confidence with In the Moment Research

The Consumer Insights industry is also facing a time of considerable change and uncertainty. 

You may be questioning whether you should hit pause on your research plans. 

In the short-term, we need to pivot from long-term strategic research and move toward in-context, in the moment research. 

This strategic shift is vital for insights professionals to maintain a pulse on what consumers are currently feeling, recognize new behaviors, and track trends in the new normal.

Here are the two most common questions everyone is asking these days:

  1. What do we do right now?
  2. How do we plan ahead?

The two are intertwined. The decisions you make today not only on the questions you choose to ask and the types of research you run but also the technology and suppliers you add to your toolkit are going to have a significant impact on how prepared you are in the future. 

When considering research right now, a great piece of advice a client of ours recently shared is to ask yourself this question:

"Unsure if you should pause research? Ask yourself, “If I run this test right now with consumers and the data doesn't look the way I expected, would I blame it on COVID-19?”"

If this answer is yes, then now is not the time for that type of research. 

If you’re going to blame the current situation for not seeing the data you expected because you think it has an impact, consider holding off until things stabilize.

With that stated, let’s discuss four types of research we ARE consistently seeing that your team should be considering (if not doing already).

#1 Understanding How Your Consumers’ Habits Are Changing

People are currently at home much more often, so the activities they do daily are shifting. These shifts can have both a positive and negative impact on industries right now. It’s important to conduct research that monitors these changes to determine the impact on your business. 

As insights and market research professionals, you’re rockstars when it comes to helping CPG, shelf-stable products, streaming content providers, tech companies, and others survive today and thrive in the future, but retail and hospitality categories that are currently suffering should also be focused on learning how best to emerge as the world slowly re-engages.

#2 Concept & Product Innovation Studies

This will certainly be circumstantial. There are some industries seeing total stalls in innovation right now simply because of what’s happening in the world. 

But we are seeing many concept and product studies continue in industries from health to retail.

We’re also doing more quasi qualitative/quantitative research (beyond open ends with respondent video, images, and even diaries) in initiatives to replace in-person focus groups.

You can ask consumer questions on preference, PI (purchase intent), uniqueness, and other KPIs and still confidently get the answers you seek. 

During these studies, you may also be able to identify a new group of people who use your products now, but have not in the past, and create and test with a new consumer cluster that may drive innovation in the future.

#3 Brand Loyalty Studies

In many cases, consumers are being forced to buy whatever’s left on the shelf. Even if they want to be brand loyal right now, they may not have the choice. Now is a critical time for researchers to dive into brand loyalty shifts. 

Questions to consider include:

  • If someone purchased a brand they wouldn't have normally bought, were they delighted by it?
  • Were they surprised or disappointed? 
  • Was their purchase or lack thereof because of price and a need to stretch money further?
  • Are they willing to switch to using your product more often or less often in the future?

If you do the work to ask these questions now, it will help with supply chain management and positioning moving forward.

#4 Competitive Intelligence Studies

Finally, what are your competitors doing?

Now more than ever you should be looking at where your strengths and your weaknesses are and monitoring the threats.

As things come back to whatever the new normal is, you can begin to predict whether or not they return to normal for your brand and your products.

Aytm’s research team is tracking consumer sentiment week-over-week and the data backs up the case for leveraging the types of studies mentioned. 

The Role of Digital Transformation

Another important consideration for insights leaders is whether you have the right tools and processes in place to help you manage the mass volume of research requests that will undoubtedly come your way when the world opens back up? After all, consumers will be readjusting to a whole new world. 

If you felt you were being pushed to constantly deliver insights with less budget, fewer resources, and in a shorter period of time before, imagine what’s to come. 

That’s where the power of technology comes in. Digital transformation can be incredibly impactful for insights teams and their overall business.  

As you move toward a future of increasing questions from stakeholders about the next steps, it’s critical to be prepared. 

Finding a technology provider that can become a partner to your organization can set you up for success. 

Whether you bring on contractors, outsource to a full-service agency or incorporate DIY, find a flexible solution that meets you where you are today, and can take the journey with you as you continue to grow and improve.

Closing Thoughts

As you think towards the future, where do you want your brand to be when this ends? 

You have an opportunity right now and in the immediate future to help consumers in ways that make sense for your brand.

Remember who you are as a company, be authentic and lean on in the moment research to make smart decisions and cut through the clutter. 

Lastly, be sure to set yourself up with processes and tools that will empower you to move quickly and cost-efficiently into the future.

Want to be a part of the discussion?
Join the Insighter community.

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