Delivering meaningful connections with digital qualitative alternatives
The world has changed drastically in the past week.
School closures, social distancing measures and inventory shortages has led to many of our clients and friends asking how best to support their employees and act as good global citizens at this time.
But consumers, too, are struggling to adapt practically and emotionally to the ‘new normal’.
Feel. Behave. Think
As we continue to conduct interviews and talk safely to consumers, we’re encountering lots of rational responses to the pandemic:
- “It’s a weird time, but we’re doing OK”
- “I’m hoping to take advantage of some of this time to take some online courses”
- “We’re social-distancing with some hikes, fresh air and family time”
Yet hoarding toilet paper and stockpiling hand sanitizer demonstrates the emotional reality of our human responses. While we may project a sense of calm on the surface, our behaviors suggest we’re deeply uncertain and unsettled.
And, beneath the surface, we’re seeing similar fears in the business world. People are worried about their jobs. Uncertainty about the duration and severity of the pandemic leaves the future of strategic business initiatives in doubt. Market performance adds another level of worry about our economic future in general.
Human, emotional connection is more important than ever before
Yet, just as communities are coming together in mutual support, we urge companies not to lose sight of the opportunity to connect emotionally with customers. Take this time to refresh relationships and communicate. Don’t market to them or crassly try to exploit their fears for commercial gain. Instead, speak honestly. Acknowledge fears and uncertainty and look for ways to bolster their spirits and ease their burden.
As researchers, historically we would have turned to in-person qualitative research to find the right way to do this.
That’s clearly not the best way forward right now. But robust digital platforms and the proliferation of broadband access across the globe makes digital qual a viable – and even preferable – alternative in many cases.
Online focus groups and one-on-one interviews are great ways to connect with customers and populations. Digital ethnography and mobile missions give people a way to share their worlds and express some of what they’re feeling. Online diaries offer creative ways to communicate and bring feelings to life.
Consumers are looking to connect
It’s human nature that consumers look to connect during times of stress and uncertainty.
We encourage all research buyers to take the first step in reaching out to customers; don’t miss the chance to reassure them. Show them your human side and deepen your connection with them.
The business world faces an unprecedented challenge – while we’re happy to help you consider the best way to conduct research during this time, this isn’t a solicitation, just an acknowledgement of the difficulties we face and an encouragement for us all to try to move forward.
Be well and stay safe.