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Business as Usual

Published Mar 31, 2020

Susan Vidler, Managing Director, Harris Interactive UK

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I’ve gotten emails over the past few weeks about business continuity, messages of assurance and moving businesses forward.  But for those in the Insights industry, should it be business as usual?  There are massive changes in consumer behaviour that can have real consequences on the work we do.  My team and I have had many conversations with clients over the past couple of weeks. Many questions have been asked about the impact of the current situation, but one thing is clear: the greater market volatility, the more relevant, up to date insights are required.

Here are five points for researchers to consider during these times of uncertainty:

Research is a must in times of change

In fast-moving, volatile periods, it is more important than ever to gauge the views of your audience. The faster the pace, the more frequently you should consider listening to your audience. Brands need to be empathetic, ensuring comms and other activities are in tune with what is going on. At Harris Interactive, we are a digital consumer research agency, delivering insights on demand aligned with audiences’ needs with the goal of helping brands make the right choices in uncertain and confusing times.

Continue brand tracking but reconsider frequency

Continue to collect data.  As we have seen with other significant market events, it is more important than ever for clients to monitor and track perceptions before, during and after events.  This enables the measurement of changes in perceptions, opinions, and behaviours and informs decision making to accurately reflect the new environment in which they are operating.  And the frequency of tracking is important. Quarterly measurement is good, but monthly or weekly measurement will be more relevant at this time to enable brands to capture what is happening and course correct. Consider doing a quick pulse in the market if you don’t already have an on-going programme in place.  

Pretest, Pretest, Pretest

Pretesting communications and advertising is a matter of good practice. Today it is crucial to avoid mistakes that could lead to a communications crisis. Pretest all messaging and advertising. Ensure alignment with audiences, so advertising strikes the right note and your brand is not tarnished. And while a sense of urgency may tempt the testing of messaging or communications in market, always test pre-launch.  With self-service platforms (you can DIY or we use Harris 24 — a flexible, quick, serviced alternative to omnibus), pre-testing messages, communications, and advertising campaigns happens quickly and efficiently. 

If this is the new normal consider how findings are projected.

Now is not the time to extrapolate and project for all of 2020 how people will spend their time, shop for or consider new products, or consume media.  We are in unusual times. Anything that projects normalcy now needs to be treated with caution.  This is a time for research on a more frequent basis and in some cases it will mean deferring studies exploring longer term more strategic decision making.

New Product Development is a Go.  In most cases.

When it comes to the NPD cycle, there are some industries that should absolutely continue with development cycles as products and services must meet consumer needs even if those needs change.  Products need to be optimised to take changes in consumer needs and behaviour into account in the short and medium term, what was not a relevant in the past may be extremely relevant now and going forward.  

It’s crucial to know and listen to your audience in fast-moving times. The ability to stay connected to customers and take faster, more impactful decisions that make a positive difference in daily lives has never been more important.  At Harris Interactive, we help you do just that.

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