A Cheat’s Guide to Performing Market Research in a Remote World

A Cheat’s Guide to Performing Market Research in a Remote World

As ex Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble Jim Stengel once famously said when discussing market research, “If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.” 

Unfortunately for marketers trying to conduct market research in 2020, with the global COVID-19 pandemic shaking up all common practice that we’ve come to rely on, both Stengel’s figurative zoo and jungle are effectively closed and off limits until further notice. In a world where social distancing is more or less the law, marketers need to get creative in their approaches to performing market research remotely that actually does the job. 

At 3rdspace, each and every campaign we produce is insight driven – it’s how we ensure there’s a human element to every message we share. As a result, we’re avid believers in the power of good ethnographic market research to inform any content campaign we create for our clients, under the simple principle that it is almost always more effective to engage with your audience in their own backyard. 

Gone are the Madmen days where the most effective medium of market research was focus groups where marketers would sit behind mirrored glass smoking cigarettes whilst gawking at their target segment trying on the latest brand of lipstick. Whilst focus groups still take place today and can be useful for B2C businesses, they’re now almost impossible to facilitate in a COVID-19 world where gathering as a group is a no-go.  

So how can we conduct effective market research in a remote world? Before we dive into our cheat’s guide that will give you a great insight into how we’ve been conducting our market research remotely (with some great results), it’s worth addressing the question that some of you may be asking – why do I need to do market research in the first place? 

To really understand the market you’re going to be working with, you need to really immerse yourself. How can you expect to create content that resonates with your audience if you really don’t know anything about them? Market research allows you to get a better understanding of your target audiences – their wants, needs, fears, pain points and values. Once you become armed with this information, you’ll be amazed at how much easier creating an effective content strategy becomes. Why? Because you’ll know how to talk to your audience in a way that will make them WANT to listen, through an alignment of values and purpose.

At 3rdspace, our approach to market research combines seeking a delicate balance of qualitative and quantitative information through an in-depth process that involves a number of different methods to get us to that magical end result. We start by undertaking some secondary research using our Content Sphere software, which uses text-based analytics to scrape millions of documents such as news articles, blogs, social media posts, scientific papers and press releases (to name a few!). The finished result of this first stage of research is an informed overview of all the content that’s been published in any location over any period of time we allocate. Using the Content Sphere, we can find any published content that so much as mentions our client (or their competitors), content that centres around the themes we want to address, the issues our clients’ customers care about, and which of these topics and issues are trending and resonating in the market. Not a bad starting point. 

Following this initial round of secondary research in the Content Sphere, we usually embark on numerous rounds of face-to-face interviews in the client’s “backyard” (in other words, wherever they feel most comfortable and can easily communicate their mindset). This is then followed up by carefully designed surveys from our in-house Behavioural Psychologist, group workshops, and more secondary research on the Content Sphere. It sounds like a lengthy process, but it’s through this tried and tested formula that we’ve been able to create some of our most successful content strategies to date. 

In today’s environment where we haven’t been able to be in the same room as any of our clients for almost two months now, this approach has required a bit of adjusting. When you’re unable to visit the client’s “backyard” to conduct your market research, it’s still hugely important to gather your information in a way that allows the respondents to answer with ease and in a way that doesn’t feel forced or awkward. We’ve found that developing a rapport by putting in some facetime over Zoom can really help participants relax and respond to our questions openly.

So while your cosy focus groups and on-site immersions may be out of the question for the time being, try getting together for virtual group workshops and Q&A sessions, being mindful that the less participants involved, the easier it will be to facilitate. 

Need a hand conducting some remote market research? Or want to know more about the Content Sphere and the insights we can dig up on your brand and your competitors? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you!