By: Ruthie Feinstein, VP, Insights & Engagement
There is nothing quite like moderating in-person research: constantly meeting new people, appreciating their experiences and stories, and just sharing physical space with other humans brings me real joy. I do miss it, but virtual research provides those same benefits – just in a different way.
The art and science of revealing people’s authentic thoughts, perspectives, and feelings…. those powerful emotions that give clients better understanding and increased empathy can still be uncovered online. If there was any question about conducting research of any kind right now, people WANT to be heard, and valued and appreciated, and are willing to provide their insight across multiple channels. This is important for brands to know and embrace.
Additionally, there are some differentiating tangible benefits virtual research offers:
· Cost Effectiveness and Efficiency. The most obvious is no travel-related costs. But importantly, along with that are no travel-related hassles, exhaustion or wasted time. This leaves more time for other work to get done and your head space to really be focused ‘in’ the research vs. the rest of your to-do list. For some clients, it also means access to more dollars to invest IN research.
· Flexibility and Engagement: If unable to attend ‘live’ interviews, clients have the ability to watch recorded versions at their convenience, in a relaxed environment. Some have mentioned that this allows them to watch even more interviews, resulting in a firmer grasp of the overall learning, and increased contributions to post-research discussions and decision-making.
· Expanded Socialization of Insights: No travel costs and recorded interviews also mean more client team members are able to participate. Critical functions at all levels and external partners are able to internalize consumer stories and feedback first-hand. This helps to achieve cross-functional buy-in, truly informed decision-making and innovation from all functions that contribute to the customer experience.
· Compelling Storytelling: Virtual research often allows for an easier and more natural platform for image and video collection. These experiential artifacts serve as authentic and naturally persuasive tools for communicating insights in an organization. For example, sales teams, agency partners and executives often prefer and are more receptive to a short, compelling video that summarizes the essence of the learning and opportunities.
· ‘Freer’ Feedback: I’ve noticed that being behind the screen gives people a little extra permission to open up in ways they might not in person. I am seeing that participants feel ‘freer’ to provide candid feedback or talk about sensitive topics, which results in even more robust learning.
When it comes to designing your next project, virtual may be a great fit. But, like all methods, it should be assessed for its ability to meet your objectives, timeline, budget, and organization’s needs. Please contact Cindy Blackstock at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your research objectives and if virtual may be the right approach!