Blog Post

Consumers Dealing with COVID-19: “Shattered, But Frozen in Place”

Author: Julia Eisenberg

“Shattered, but frozen in place”

We’re several weeks into social distancing and all of us are adjusting (or trying to adjust) to life in the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has shaken up consumer behavior and altered norms, and clients are now coming to us with questions about how to align their research to understand the impacts of the virus specifically.

Why should I conduct research now?

COVID-19 related research can add tremendous value, and it certainly seems in demand across a variety of industries.  We’ve seen pre-virus projects go on hold and be quickly replaced with research focused on COVID and its impact.  We’ve seen screening criteria change or expand to include state-of-mind assessments as a new way to group or categorize respondents.  And we’ve started our own omnibus community on the topic of COVID-19 and have been blown away by the rich responses, like the quote above from a respondent describing their current emotional state.  We’ve learned a lot after only a few questions and look forward to learning  how the community evolves from here.

How should I conduct research now?

As far as how to approach research now, methods like an online community, discussion board or journal have proven to be highly effective solutions. I know I personally struggle to carve out large blocks of time to do anything (especially since my kids consider me their personal snack concierge and IT support!), so an asynchronous methodology where you can respond when you have the time and when it’s convenient is kind of a must have when it comes to research in these weird times.

Are there new best practices I should consider?

Yes – it’s really not that different than the best practices we’ve always recommended, even though the times are unprecedented and the questions and feedback are something we never could have imagined gathering even a month ago.  It’s important to be clear on your audience and your objectives.  Who is qualified to weigh in on this topic? What are your key hypotheses and what do you hope to or need to learn from the research? What decisions will be made as a result of what we learn and what factors will define success? New topics should never shake the foundations of solid research, so I’m taking a lot of comfort from the fact that we know how to do this well, we just have to take a deep breath and work on understanding new struggles and situations.  We have a lot to learn through this new lens, but I wholeheartedly believe the learning should not stop.