Should you Still Do Market Research During a Crisis?
Considering how brutal 2020 has been for many businesses worldwide, many companies are tightening their belts and slashing their budget. Many are considering if market research is really necessary considering the crisis. The answer, though, is that it is more necessary now than it has ever been. This is because more companies now must locate their customers not through brick and mortar stores, but rather online.
Why is Market Research More Important Now than Ever?
Just setting up an e-commerce site isn’t going to solve all your problems. Normally, the chances of your product being found by a customer walking by your shop are much higher than the chances of being found online. There are potentially thousands of competitor websites that sell your product or service. With quarantine, people are not going out as much to shops and many of the shops are closed down. A study in June, only four months into the pandemic, by PYMNTS.com found that the number of customers doing transactions online rose 12% when the pandemic started.
It is a very tricky business marketing your online website because you have to be found among literally millions of other websites. E-commerce business owners use strategies like search engine optimization in order to be found by their customers.
How is Market Research Different in Light of the Crisis?
With social distancing measures put in place during the Coronavirus 19 crisis, it has become necessary to develop special market research formats. Market research focus groups and interviews that were once conducted face to face are now held over the phone, others over video-conferencing software like Zoom.
Videoconferencing software like Zoom allows participants to see each other and the market research coordinator in a virtual setting. You can read each other’s facial expressions and interact in real-time as a group. This is a very handy technology during this crisis. In larger studies with bigger sample sizes, companies have turned to more scalable solutions like online survey providers and email forms to get the pulse of their market.
Market Research Makes the Consumers’ Preferences Visible
It is necessary to conduct market research because vendors are missing out on the knowledge about the consumers that they gain just by interacting with them at the time of purchase. Shop owners are no longer able to gauge customer interest by observing them and interacting with them face to face. ; Even if the companies have been lucky enough to have their operations and product/service offerings be mostly the same even after the pandemic disruptions, they will find that their market has changed. And if the behavior and buying habits of your audience are changed, the way that you market to them- the message, the channels you use, the delivery of your service- has to adapt as well.
For example, LA-based Joyride Coffee shifted their business model from cafes (which took a hit when fewer people started coming) to boxed cold brew delivery, which let their target market enjoy their product at home or at the office. They are one of the many companies that have made the shift by understanding what changes their customers have undergone and successfully adapting to it.
Now that the discussion of the pandemic has changed recently with vaccines coming out and being made available to the general public, people are talking about things going back to normal. The timeline that forecasts “normalcy” and the relaxing of social distancing measures, according to one of the vaccines’ creators, is late 2021. With a whole year of transition still ahead, it is vital that business have their ears to the ground.