It is a harrowing time for American companies. As a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic[i], thousands of businesses are shuttering their doors, laying off staff, and quickly depleting their cash reserves. During times like these, market research may not be a foremost consideration for businesses. Yet, in many respects, market research has never been more important[ii]. Here are just 4 reasons why companies should continue to invest in research during the crisis:
- To keep a “pulse on the population”:Whether motivated by fear, anxiety[iii], or perhaps just boredom[iv], the pandemic has triggered a rapid and “unprecedented” shift in consumer behaviour and attitudes[v]. These shifts aren’t always intuitive…or rational. For example, American consumers are now less likely to order Chinese food[vi]due to its association with the outbreak’s origin (Wuhan, China). They are also more likely to shun organic cleaning products in favour of seemingly “stronger” chemical solutions[vii]. Market research enables businesses to discern, understand, and ultimately capitalize on such evolving preferences.
- To grasp the changing landscape[viii]:The pandemic has also radically shaped the external context in which consumers live. Among other things, it has induced governments and businesses to impose safety measures that effectively constrain consumer activity. For instance, travel bans prevent avid travellers from booking flights, social distancing keeps music fans from buying concert tickets, and store closures force consumers to shop online. Similarly, the pandemic’s macroeconomic effects could ultimately impact individual businesses. Heavy job losses could reduce consumption (particularly of luxury goods) or massive stimulus funding could necessitate price increases. Understanding these changes and their potential effects through market research, such as PEST analysis[ix]will allow businesses to navigate the crisis and develop “a confident strategy for growth and success as world economies recover.”[x]
- To bolster their brand:The coronavirus has completely consumed Americans for the last 2 months. It has monopolized the news, dominated our conversations, and even infiltrated our dreams[xi]. For companies, market research is a way to stay fresh in clients’ minds, giving them an edge over competitors during or immediately following the crisis. This may be especially important for smaller businesses with less established brands.
- Response rates:Insights Association member companies are reporting “steady” or increasing market research response rates across the country[xii]. It makes sense: due to shelter-in-place orders[xiii], millions of Americans are at home and unable to work. Participating in studies is a way for these individuals to pass the time, share their views, and boost their income. The corollary for businesses is that market research may actually be easier than before the pandemic.
Of course, there are a few caveats worth noting. First, for the time being, in person market research is out of the question. Instead, businesses should leverage web-based platforms like Op4G[xiv]. Secondly, now is not the time to seek insights from busy healthcare workers[xv]. Doctors and nurses have better things to do! Third, businesses must use careful messaging. They must avoid appearing “insensitive” or “flippant”[xvi]during such a serious crisis, as this could backfire on their brand. Finally, companies should proceed carefully when gleaning long-term lessons from today’s data. Consumer emotions are running high and could change once normalcy returns[xvii].
In short, don’t let your business fall victim to the coronavirus—invest in market research today. Simply contact the experts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, to learn more about the public’s evolving views on the pandemic and associated responses, check out Op4G’s series of reports titled “What People Really Think About the Threat of COVID-19 Coronavirus”.