Blog Post

Six Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Research in the Age of Coronavirus

Author: Julia Eisenberg

With COVID-19 disrupting day-to-day lives and the world moving into lockdown, we are all adjusting to a new normal.  And that includes researchers looking for ways to keep their insights moving forward – figuring out how to transition to digital approaches, thinking creatively about needs and objectives, and much more.

We understand that this situation brings lots of unknowns. So we’ve put together a list with answers to some of the most common questions we’ve been hearing from clients over these initial weeks of the pandemic.

1. Is now even the right time to be conducting research?

The simple and not-so-simple answer is, it depends.

Certainly industry matters. 

Take technology and entertainment.  Levels of engagement with products and platforms are higher than normal, making it a potentially great time to do research. Also, political issues remain top of mind for the general population. Pausing information gathering would create a gap in knowledge for this time period, which would be a disadvantage to those in this space.

In an industry like healthcare, where resources and personnel are stretched to the limit, research needs serious consideration. 

The travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, meanwhile, are facing an unprecedented time as well, and understandably much business-as-usual research may be on hold.  But current consumer sentiment research could provide key context, especially since so many consumers have had to interact with these providers and make changes to near- and long-term plans in ways they have never previously. 

But many clients have identified that this is exactly the time they should be conducting more research – and more qualitative research – to be sure the full context of the moment is captured and available to inform future plans once the situation levels out.

2. If I am doing research, how do I address the pandemic and still ensure I get the insights I need? 

We have seen the most success by addressing COVID-19 upfront, at the start of the discussion. This allows the respondents to open up and let out any frustrations (or moments of levity from their social distancing!) before the core of the research begins. 

3. Will respondents even agree to take part right now?

Since COVID-19, we have actually seen an increase in engagement from our participants. With more consumers at home, there has been an increase in activity and a greater willingness to share their experiences.

4. Have participation rates for studies been affected?

We haven’t seen any impact on participation to date.  In fact with people adjusting to different schedules, we are seeing more willingness to participate in research. As an extra precaution, though, we are sending additional reminders to help participants stay on track throughout the study. 

5. Say my project does have to be delayed.  What are the implications of this for participants?

We get it.  It’s an uncertain time, and some things that were critical a few weeks ago just aren’t anymore. In this case, Aspen Finn can inform the respondents and ask if they would be interested in taking part once the study is rescheduled. You may see some dropouts due to schedule changes, but we can easily replace any respondents that are unable to participate.

6. I haven’t done a lot of digital research. How do I know which approach or platform is best?

With COVID-19 grounding face-to-face research, we are seeing in-person researchers unfamiliar with digital wonder how to best transition their research online. We can help you identify solutions that can accommodate everything from digital discussions, diaries, ethnographies and longer-term communities to virtual focus groups, IDIs and chats. 

Have a question that isn’t on this list?  Just have some things you want to talk through?  We are here to help so you can continue to follow your customers on their journey.