What have you been doing more of lately? I’m pretty sure your habits have changed along with the rest of the world. A crowded gym with shared equipment and little personal space has transformed into a living room, two dumbbells and a YouTube video. Happy hour with friends after work may have turned into a preplanned Zoom meetup with your cocktail of choice, wherever you’ve perched your computer. In short, we aren’t behaving the same way.

Consumer insights have been severely impacted by these behavioral changes, as we scramble to find outreach and methodologies that will collect data from people we hardly recognize any more. While many of us have been focusing on short-term solutions to pressing questions and changes, now is the time to start baking our new-found strategies into some planning for the future.

  1. Remote...everything. Activities that have traditionally been conducted in-person like meetings, school and doctor appointments will likely continue. For example, remote learning grew in the U.K. alone by 44% and 60% intend to continue this method of education. Telemedicine also grew in the double digits, with consumers enjoying the ease and convenience of simple online doctor appointments. This comfort level with taking in-person activities online can push the online trajectory of the market research industry even further in a digital direction. We will need to find ways to get more than “skin deep” answers, specifically in qualitative. There are clues in these newly online activities that can help us connect on a deeper level. In some ways, moving things online makes things easier, but some traditional metrics can get lost in the translation unless approached correctly. Plan for better ways to reach your audiences digitally – they will expect it.
  2. Video takes over. Digital streaming subscriptions are on the rise and people are consuming more video content than ever. Already a powerful medium, the demand will rise as more people turn to this avenue for entertainment, news, instruction and much more. It isn’t difficult to make the leap from increased video consumption to increased comfort levels with video overall. Some companies are already incorporating video into their data collection toolkit (think VoxPopMe and other video innovators), but market researchers will likely need to take it a step further in the future. More surveys should include video content, and more insights companies should turn to video to tell their stories. Even our reporting will start to make a greater shift, and things like delivering insights via video, for example, may become the norm if this trend continues.
  3. Purchase behavior. When you look at the majority of market research projects, especially for large brands, retailers and CPG products, we are trying to uncover how people are buying products and how we can influence their purchase behavior. Already we were seeing a huge shift from brick-and-mortar shopping to online commerce, but the pandemic threw this shift into overdrive. For example, as people accommodated stay-at-home orders, they began using online grocery delivery services, or online order and pickup, more and more. CNBC says this trend “will likely remain at a higher level because many customers have downloaded apps, tried new services and discovered their conveniences.” When understanding consumer purchase behavior is essential to your business, you must fully incorporate these shopping trends into your research. Surveys need to be enhanced specifically to address the new online and ordering behaviors.

While it is difficult to predict the future, it is easy to see that our behaviors as consumers have changed for good. While some of us may go back to “normal” there are a great many discoveries that have been made during the last few months by consumers – discoveries and conveniences that they won’t be as willing to let go and will come to expect as part of their daily lives. As an industry that strives for a closer relationship with consumers to build understanding, we must start to future-proof our businesses by transforming our approaches and methods to fit the new consumer.