Do This, Not That: 3 Ideas for Effective Qual During a Pandemic

COVID-19 is impacting the way we all do business, especially for in-person market research. Delaying (or canceling) projects isn’t an option, as urgent business questions remain. Hypothesis has been supporting clients around the world to quickly adapt their research plans in the wake of the situation. It’s time to get creative and re-visit often over-looked techniques that provide critical and timely insights despite the on-going Coronavirus outbreak.

And, it’s not all compromise: we’ve highlighted the unique benefits alternative qualitative approaches have vs. “traditional” in-person techniques.

Virtual Groups/Co-Creations (instead of traditional focus groups)

Virtual Focus Groups via InterVu

Online Focus Groups connect a moderator and up to 6 consumers in a dynamic group discussion using webcams, all from the ease and comfort of their own homes. A virtual backroom allows clients to view the sessions and communicate with the moderator in real-time.

Online Co-Creations add virtual breakout rooms where client teams collaborate directly with smaller groups of consumers in creative exercises, building out new ideas and concepts.

Benefits of Virtual Focus Groups and Online Co-Creations:

  1. Capture more personal, vulnerable perspectives and ideas as there is less social bias at play when consumers provide input through the virtual medium

  2. Connect with harder to reach demographics by tapping into consumers from all over the country, including smaller, more remote geographies, all within a single group session

  3. Leverage advanced tech features such as digital stimuli mark-up and notation, virtual white boarding to facilitate visual expression of ideas, and live real-time polling

Digital Journals (instead of in-depth interviews or ethnographies)

Digital Journals, in which consumers provide input through online software/mobile app, still enable us to gather thoughts and perspective in an organic way while in their homes (and elsewhere) but have the added benefit of allowing for a more longitudinal approach. Instead of spending just a couple hours with your customer, you can spend an entire week.

Benefits of Digital Journals:

  1. Uncover how needs, behaviors, and emotions change throughout different times of day, different days, and different situations

  2. Create rich, interactive deliverables with vivid, consumer-uploaded video clips and digital assets

  3. Expand geographic reach and include a greater number of participants (Hypothesis recommends 20-25)

The option to layer in real-time video chats at key moments allows the moderator to pull select consumers (up to 4 at a time) into an interview to continue the discussion or deep dive on a specific theme.

Virtual and e-Shop Alongs (instead of traditional shop alongs)

v-Shop Alongs (Virtual Shop Alongs) have consumers visit specific locations, capturing video and photos of different aspects of their experience. Consumers can tap a button on their smartphone and easily journal key moments as they happen.

Benefits of v-Shop Alongs:

  1. Put the consumer more at ease when shopping and considering their personal process due to less in-store commotion compared to having a team join the consumer

  2. Visually reconstruct the full purchase journey, highlighting delighters and frustrations from the high-quality image/video output

  3. Capture preparation behaviors, thoughts, and decision-making processes that often occur before customers walk into a store through a journaling period beforehand

E-Shop Alongs (E-Commerce Shop Alongs) are a chance to refocus on your brand’s digital channels. Consumers that are in the market for a particular product or service take us on their online shopping journey. Consumers use screen recording software (for both mobile and desktop) and we follow each mouse movement (or finger tap!), listen to their narration as they shop, and have them mark-up screenshots to identify specific aspects they like, dislike, or find confusing.


  1. Keep the experience more natural than when held in a facility, conducting sessions in the consumer's home or wherever they would naturally be online shopping

  2. Visually reconstruct the online purchase journey through screenshots and recordings from the shopping process

  3. Learn from both observational and experimental research by breaking up the exercises to capture what consumers do naturally via open exploration of digital touch points, as well as what the consumers would do given specific assigned tasks

Moving Forward Confidently

While ongoing concerns around the Coronavirus may continue to disrupt the ability to do in-person research, many options for qualitative insights are at your disposal that are not only possible to implement virtually, but that also offer their own unique advantages.

It’s important to remember that it’s not simply a matter of replicating a methodology in an online environment. There are numerous considerations that must be taken into account to maximize the feasibility and impact from these alternative methodologies.

Let us know what other approaches you are using to supplement in-person work in the comments! You can alsoreach out to Hypothesiswhen you’re ready to talk through ways you can leverage these digital approaches and continue to drive market research insights and growth for your brand.


Inversion and Re-immersion: The Two New Business Strategies You Will Need


假设增加思想领导和Strategic Firepower with Appointment of Matt Walker as VP of Growth Strategy