The coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it – for now. It has brought about daily changes that include social distancing, donning face masks when going out in public, shelter-in-place policies, remote work, travel restrictions and closed borders, just to name a few. The impact of these practices and policies in the age of COVID-19 in the advertising and marketing arena includes the inability for brand managers and market researchers to conduct in-person consumer interviews and on-site global research to identify the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of targeted customers.
Market Research Needed to Stay Connected, Move Forward
However, in order for organizations to know how they can best support their customers and partners during a time of crisis, they need to understand changing consumer needs and concerns. This is where marketing research performs best – in assisting in the development of an effective customer relationship marketing roadmap during a period of uncertainty and to understand together with their consumers how to move ahead in the future. The COVID-19 crisis may present new opportunities for brands. An organization needs to find out what its opportunities are, how these opportunities are evolving and how to best position its products, services and brand in the atmosphere of COVID-19.
As people by necessity change their behaviors, they will need new products, services and messaging. For some brands, this may mean fulfilling basic needs with essential products or services; for others, it may mean keeping customers close and at ease until they’re ready to begin spending on products and services again. The ability to respond fast with new products, services and experiences will differentiate brands now and down the road.
In addition, consumers want to provide input, they want to let their favorite brands know what they’re looking for. During times of stress and, in particular, during this pandemic, people feel powerless, and are looking for some sense of control. They may even be more willing than usual to participate in market research, knowing that they are, in part, involved in the path forward. They also have more time to talk, to share – and perhaps a need for connection and distraction – in this period of self-isolation.
Leveraging Technology for On-Demand, Qualitative Market Research
Even as phased-in back-to-business plans take place and quarantine restrictions are lifted in cities around the world, travel limitations will continue to apply and in-person, face-to-face interviews and conversations with consumers will be few and far between for a very long time. With the right platform and tools in hand, however, firms have the ability to “digitally” reach consumers and gain real-time insights into their behaviors and needs to help develop or improve a brand’s products and services and create informed interactions for positive, personalized customer relationship marketing strategies.
In fact, the COVID-19 crisis has made virtual sessions across the globe the new normal, bringing colleagues working remotely together and making online client meetings a common business practice. Take this a giant step further with discuss.io. The platform enables brand managers and marketers to hold online one-on-one or group conversations with quality, recruited consumers – at any time, anywhere, and on any device.
Marketers are able to probe and discover in real time shared traits among different groups in order to identify and then categorize customer segments and buying behavior for the creation of marketing campaigns and messaging that is best suited to promote a service or product to each group.
The data garnered from the online marketing research on the discuss.io platform can be shared with team members, who can also choose to listen in without disrupting the conversation(s). In sharing insights and patterns with others (sales, customer service) throughout the organization in real time, marketers can receive immediate feedback to assist in the overall marketing strategy that comes from the research findings. A brief of the findings can be put together in a presentation to the organization’s stakeholders, supporting the proposed marketing strategy and/or campaigns.
Understanding what consumers are thinking and feeling is critical in helping organizations make informed decisions on the path forward. Online market research supported by qualitative research tools enables brands to have meaningful conversations with consumers to facilitate the customer relationship marketing process.
Visit discuss.io to learn more about our solutions and features available.
Jim Longo is the VP of Research Solutions at Discuss.io, a consumer-connection platform for market research. He brings over 25 years of domain expertise in the market research industry. Jim is considered a thought leader with regards to online behavior and market research technology. He has consulted with brands and research agencies around the world on how to have insightful online conversations and was instrumental in building the first global online qualitative research practice at Harris Interactive (acquired by Nielsen). There, he led a team that conducted more than one thousand online groups in the first three years of its existence.