With the ever evolving COVID-19 situation, we wanted to provide you with some thought starters and considerations when it comes to conducting research at the present time. Should we be doing research now at all? When’s the right time to be doing it? What are the dos and don’ts of research in this most challenging of times?
A lot of our clients are asking whether they should be pausing research or proceeding. The answer to this matter depends on category, client, topic, and importantly, the nature of the target respondent. As such, there is no simple blanket rule one can apply. Instead, one needs to look at each situation and evaluate it in a case by case manner.
Having said that, a general guiding principle we are applying as an agency is that the longer the storm into which we are sailing is likely to endure, the greater is the need to continue with research now. This is quite simply because there is an absolute need to engage with customers, members, stakeholders and the community at this most critical and sensitive of times, and not ignore them. This is important from an engagement point of view, but also in order to gain feedback and input about how the lifeblood of your organisations are feeling, what they are doing, how they are doing it, their concerns, anxieties, needs, and rapidly evolving worlds. We are rapidly entering a ‘new normal’ after a tremendous jolt, and organisations need to understand how this looks from a consumer perspective if they are to survive, in a marketing-led and customer-first manner. It’s important to not wait until the end of the storm to work out what next, if your organisation wants to be first out of the gates.
If we had reason to believe that this storm was to be a short one (say 2 or 3 weeks or a month or so), we would most likely suggest pausing research for a short while. Why? Because there is no doubt that respondents are living in turbulent and abnormal times. Unfortunately, we have every reason to believe that this situation is going to evolve and be present in our lives for at least 3 and most likely 6 to 9 months. Talking to customers, members, the market, stakeholders, and the community must surely go on.
But it needs to take a different form.
It would be a gross error to just run an online survey, for example, without any recognition of the current situation. For this reason, at Nature, each and every survey now starts with a statement to recognise the situation, empathise with the respondent, thank them for their time, and signify that we are connected to their reality. To not do so would indicate we, the researchers, are living on another planet.
The link below contains a set of guiding thoughts for research at this time – what to do and what not to do – which we trust will provide some tools and answers to emerging questions.
Rest assured, the sentiments above and attached considerations are being actively discussed for each of our current and ongoing projects.