By: Cindy Blackstock, Co-Founder & CEO
I just recently heard the phrase “accelerating the inevitable” and it stuck with me so much that I have it written on a Post-It note on my computer. It struck a chord because it so succinctly defines the marketing research environment we are living in right now.
At a qualitative research industry conference in January, a colleague told me that “research tech tools” were a big topic of discussion, yet the sentiment around using these tools was lukewarm. We were not really surprised by this as we were seeing this sentiment play out with some of our clients when we would recommend virtual methods as a part of research plans.
I get it. As humans, we are hard-wired to resist change. It can be uncomfortable, unnerving and honestly, a lot of work. As insights professionals, we have spent years experiencing, harnessing, and perfecting the craft of being human storytellers. For years, we have done this by being in-person, in-context and sharing physical space with people to make connections and better understand how they think and act.
Virtual research offers a different way to interact with people so they can share their thoughts, opinions, and stories. It is not the end-all, be-all but it can be the right solution depending on your learning objectives, budget and timeline needs. These tools, when used by experienced moderators who know how to replicate the beauty of in-person nuances, meets your customers where they are at. For the environment we all find ourselves in today, where in-person is more challenging to achieve, virtual research can be the best option.
Virtual research is helping our clients continue their research initiatives, learn what is important to their customers now, in this moment, how their actual behaviors are showing up, and to the extent possible, how they project their behaviors to be in the short term. It is critical and many of our clients understand that and are embracing these methods in our new now.
We are helping clients understand current behaviors and sentiments around loyalty, shopping, and buying, as well as reactions to new products and packaging and co-creating pipeline innovation ideas. Almost all that was achieved in-person can be done virtually; the connection is just different, but different does not have to mean ‘less than’. Some virtual methods we are using to help keep that connection strong include:
- Webcam one-on-one interviews
- Online Focus Groups
- Mock In-Store Shelf Set Evaluations
- IHUT’s (In-Home Use Test)
- Mobile Diaries
- Online Innovation
Simply said, these methods are getting clients the human intelligence they need to inform their business decisions. Now is the time for clients to be on the pulse of their customer’s needs and act ‘consumer-first’. Please firstname.lastname@example.org so we can support you in “accelerating the inevitable”….using virtual tools to maintain a vital connection with your customers, meeting them where they are at right now.
Cindy has over 20 years of global product experience with expertise in both marketing and R&D. Her laser focus and unwavering drive ensure that even the most ambitious project will always be executed with excellence and efficiency. As an Ironman athlete, she continues to push herself both physically and mentally and has yet to back down from any challenge.