The Future of Face to Face
Coronavirus has provoked the biggest consumer upheaval since WWII – the last few months seeing the nation grind to a halt, with many aspects of everyday life moving online. And this is no different in the research arena.
Qualitative research quickly turned to platforms such as Zoom, and after some initial tech and security hurdles became an essential tool. Usual quality checks were adapted, with ‘tech’ tests and platform set ups becoming a crucial part of the process. Online quant boomed – with a ‘bored’ nation stuck at home, response rates skyrocketed.
The team at Zest were midway through an exciting product taste test when things began to escalate. Hundreds of consumers were passing through the doors to test what our client described then as ‘The drink of the summer’, but we quickly realised , in agreement with our clients that safety had to come first and the project came to a premature end.
Subsequently, stores and high streets were abandoned and we were left with an eery post-apocalyptic feeling across the nation; there was nowhere for face to face quant to turn, leaving a nationwide field force of thousands wondering what the future might hold.
Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” This has never been truer.
Assuming no second wave, the next 4-6 months should see life get closer to normal, but the impact of lock down and the expected behavioral shifts are still unclear.
It is vital that we, the research industry take heed of Darwin's words, but what does this mean for face-to-face interviewing and the thousands of fieldworkers eager to return to work?
At the very least we must enforce several precautionary rules, and here are just a few of the things the team at Zest will be doing with all face to face interviewing.
The safety and comfort of customers is of paramount importance to us, and while all steps taken have been designed with this at the fore, field teams and interviewers will need to remain vigilant and adaptable at all times.
The application of face to face research provides access to the thoughts and opinions of key demographics that are simply inaccessible through alternative approaches (e.g. the elderly, the vulnerable, certain ethnic groups).
While we have no doubt we will face new challenges over the coming months, as long as we continue to remain agile there is no reason why face to face research cannot play a key role in the future.
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