Is market research still taking place?

A black woman smiling as she types on a laptop computer

In the past you may have taken part in face-to-face market research and perhaps you are wondering what has happened  to these projects as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

During lockdown all face-to-face market research was paused so companies wanting to carry out research started looking at alternative online methodologies. As we emerge from lockdown over the coming weeks there will be some limited opportunities to take part in face-to-face one-to-one interviews with appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures in place, but it’s likely that most market research will still be carried out online in the short term. 

With this in mind, this article provides an overview of online qualitative research and online quantitative research from the point of view of someone wanting to take part.

Four types of online market research that you can take part in over the coming months

1. Online focus groups

If you take part in an online focus group, instead of travelling to a central location for a qualitative discussion, you will be asked to log on to an online platform at a set time. The discussion will typically last between 60-90 minutes and the online platform may be a general-purpose one, such as Zoom or Google Hangouts, or it may be one that’s specially designed for market research. Research clients prefer you to sit in front of a laptop or desktop to take part, rather than trying to join via your phone, and of course you need to make sure that your webcam, microphone and speakers or headphones are all working. 

Once you join, the experience is very similar to a face-to-face group discussion – there will be a moderator to lead the group and you’ll be able to see and hear the other participants. It’s obviously convenient to be able to take part in market research from the comfort of your home but you should try to find a place where you aren’t going to be disturbed and you should avoid being distracted – it’s a good idea to close your email and any messaging applications on your computer for the duration of the discussion.

2. Online and telephone one-to-one interviews 

One-to-one qualitative interviews aim to explore the interviewee’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions in greater depth than would be possible in a group. They can take the form of a straightforward phone call or an online video call. These interviews generally last for up to 90 minutes and have a loose conversational structure. If an online platform is being used, you will be asked to log on at a set time and unless the discussion relates to a mobile phone app, most clients prefer it if you can join using a laptop or desktop with a webcam.

3. Online bulletin boards

An online bulletin board is a qualitative market research platform that allows you to exchange messages with  the moderator (and sometimes with other participants as well), view stimulus material shared by the moderator and upload images and videos. Generally, you will be ‘on boarded’ to a research platform for a set number of days, usually three to seven, and asked to respond to a series of questions that are posted by a moderator. The daily time commitment is typically 10-30 minutes. Online bulletin boards are a great way for people who have difficulty committing to a fixed time slot to take part in market research those who find themselves limited on time as you typically have the freedom to post your responses whenever you wish on each day over the course of the research. 

4. Online surveys

Online surveys allow companies to collect quantitative data about people’s attitudes and behaviours towards particular types of products and services or particular brands. Most online surveys require you to complete a short screener (which usually takes no more than a couple of minutes) to validate that you are eligible to complete the main survey. In most cases the main survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete, but in some cases the main survey may be longer than this. After receiving an email or text invite to take part in an online survey, you may have a week to ten days to complete the survey, but bear in mind that the survey is likely to close early if the client gets sufficient responses from other people so it’s best to complete the survey as soon as you have chance.

How much can I expect to earn?

If you attend market research at a central location, you can often walk away with a cash payment for taking part  from £40 – £300 depending on the length of research and your involvement. This obviously isn’t possible with online research, but most times you can  expect to be paid via bank transfer, PayPal or voucher within seven days of a study completing. The amount that you receive for an online focus group, one-to-one interview or bulletin board is likely to be close to what you would receive for face-to-face research at a central location (though a little less in most cases, as you haven’t needed to spend time and money travelling to and from the research venue).

The rewards for taking part in quantitative research tend to be much lower than those for qualitative research. This is because online surveys tend to have a fairly broad target audience, so there are more opportunities to take part in paid online surveys, and also because the time commitment is usually much less than in qualitative research.

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FieldworkHub continues to support qualitative and quantitative research projects during this unusual period. If you would like to join a paid market research session, sign up to our panel here: www.paid-research.com.