NEXT GEN CMI

Market Research Strategies for the Pandemic

 
August 4, 2020

With the COVID-19 crisis impacting consumer behavior patterns, market research companies are faced with an entirely new set of customer demand trends—increased demand for consumer research on essential questions like-- will consumers conserve or spend more? Will they prefer to be frugal and shop for minimal essentials or will they indulge? Will they travel more or stay local? What will they buy in the current scenario and what are they most likely to buy two months from now?

While, companies scramble to understand changed consumption and buying patterns, the way market research is done during COVID-19 also needs to change given the lockdowns and restrictions.

For instance, with more people wearing masks outdoors, there is a drastic drop in demand for lipsticks and a surge in eye make-up. However, it is a challenge for market research firms to collect and analyze such data across every demography, market, and country given the hampered field worker mobility and people-to-people interaction. In addition, postal and online questionnaires are no longer enough to get rapid responses from customers. However, given the increased isolation in people’s lives, phone calls are getting better responses, as per six of the eight executives who were interviewed in a dipstick survey across top market research firms in Europe and UK1.

Given the continuously changing market dynamics, how can businesses be better prepared? The key ask here is what can market researchers do to help their clients get rapid answers while reducing field visits? The way forward could be accelerated technology adoption for leveraging automation, IoT and even video calls.

1.Dipstick survey conducted by author among top executives of some of our clients in the Market Research segment.

Leveraging bots

Typically, agents have one script to run through while making calls and consistent reaction-- being put down. This results in fatigue and poor customer response. Bot based voice calling injected with the right empathy, context and emotions based on their demographics helps with enhanced response quality and rates from target respondents. The bots can work round the clock and are dynamic enough to navigate through questions based on response. An intelligent conversational bot can also have a human like chat for conducting social media market research or can be pushed as a skill on intelligent personal assistants such as Alexa. Such voice-based responses can be captured for analyzing emotions and providing valuable insights for predicting consumer behavior.

Enabling passive data collection

Connected devices and internet of things (IoT) can be leveraged to collect customer data passively. For instance, senior citizens care programs are already leveraging wearables to provide non-intrusive, yet speedy response to their medical needs. Similarly, one of the market research strategies can be leveraging RFID tags to track usage patterns of products and drive valuable consumer insight.

Conducting in-depth analysis with video calls

Imagine asking all the key words that made respondents happy and having the data right in front of you. This is possible with video calling as it helps conduct market research in the form of focus group interviews or a regular questionnaire response resulting in richer analysis. It not only helps measure emotions of every response but also captures eye movement, tone of voice, interest and other relevant factors.

The COVID-19 conundrum

Market research companies have been amongst the hardest hit by COVID-19 related restrictions and budget cuts but will continue to be equally if not more relevant in the post-COVID era. Given the dynamic consumer behavior, companies that can successfully augment and extend their physical research process with digital technology will be the ones that are more likely to thrive and catapult themselves when opportunity strikes.

1.Dipstick survey conducted by author among top executives of some of our clients in the Market Research segment.

Ayan Bandopadhyay leads Advisory for Media and Information Services, TCS UK & EU. A Computer Science and Engineering graduate, he brings to the table more than 15 years of experience in consulting, business transformation and digital product development.

Vineet Dubey is a client partner for Information Services, TCS UK & EU. With a Master’s in Management and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, he has over 15 years of global experience across domains.