How to Keep Working and Move Research Online

Published Apr 07, 2020

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In Support of the Recent Need to (Quickly) Migrate to Online Research

Interview with Mathilde Lelièvre

Digital technology forever changes market research with expanded access, greater efficiencies and more data points than had ever been available before. But there were perceived limitations of technology and the digital environment that prevented even seasoned researchers from moving all efforts online. Recent global events and the rise of employees almost exclusively working from home, has researchers hurrying to move entirely online, without sacrificing any offline benefits. 

Toluna has invaluable assistance to offer built on two decades of innovation in digital research. Our teams have created tools and developed expertise that equals the privacy, security and data delivery found in the offline research experience. Toluna EVP of Global Operations Mathilde Lelièvre is here to answer questions on digital research and data needs.

Why hasn’t everyone moved their research online? 

Mathilde: Moving online is easier said than done. Clients are used to certain methodologies and certain providers. Even in our most mature markets, like the U.S., where online research is a given, there are still some clients who hesitate to move all research online as there are perceived concerns around security and data quality.

However, we have developed tools including concept testing, shelf testing, virtual shopping, image protection technology and sampling methodology that allow us to deliver data with the same confidence and quality as if it were conducted offline. 

What is the hesitation about going online?

Mathilde: Whatever the hesitations were, the current reality requires clients to move online if they want to continue conducting research. Clients who were accustomed to a certain methodology are suddenly forced to quickly adjust.

We identified three main concerns:

  • How to enable our clients to continue with the research that they’ve been doing offline
  • How to address the new situations in which people find themselves living: how does it change their views, their habits, etc. 
  • How to fast track the switch of methodology from off- to on-line, by sharing our expertise with our clients

What are the best ways to address the challenges?

Mathilde: Toluna was born online. That’s where our knowledge and expertise lie. We felt uniquely qualified to design a program and learning modules, providing the keys, best practices and methodologies to move online. Researchers may be pleasantly surprised to find that they can safely continue their work without learning everything from scratch.  

What are the biggest or the most common concerns?

Mathilde: Hands down, the biggest concern is around quality. People are using research to address important business decisions. They need to ensure the quality of the panel, survey and data protection.

  • Two decades of experience has proven that Toluna can arrange superior panels and extract valuable insights from them. Our global panel community, Toluna Influencers, is more than 30 million members across 70 countries and they will deliver more than 100 million consumer insights this year. Our primary focus is on recruiting valid and “good” respondents:  good quality respondents however do not guarantee the quality of insight unless we look a bit further.
  • This is where questionnaire design comes in: a well-designed and engaging questionnaire ensures the data meets the research need.
    Here questions arise like: How do we design our questionnaire for an online audience? How do we reach mobile audiences? Since we’re doing this online, what questionnaire design techniques are available to ensure respondents are attentive? How does technology allow us to better engage with our target audience? This is why we’re putting in tips.
  • The last most common concern is regarding data protection. Not only ensuring that results are captured securely and in accordance with local privacy laws, but also that we protect exclusive images and videos from leaks during testing. Toluna has safeguards in place, developed from proprietary image protection technology, to ensure that, for example, the design, art, audio and technical capabilities for videogames are kept safe until launch.

Should there still be concerns with online research?

Mathilde: I’d say that most concerns and questions regarding on line research have now been addressed, through technology and service excellence.

We are a technology company so we can address client needs through our proprietary tech.

But we also pride ourselves on our ability to offer service that quell concerns. For example,  we’ve had clients used to doing shelf-testing asking us how we can recreate this experience online. We created virtual shops where users can have the full in store experience in digital environments. In other words, we work with our clients to make the impossible possible. 

Since concerns around on line research seem similar, is there a one-size-fits-all solution? 

Mathilde: Certainly not. We provide a wide range of services and offerings, depending on needs. We can offer services to help with the process for data collection or enable clients to do it for themselves. We leave our clients free on how they want to access online respondents. However, we are always available to ensure that they get the level of service needed to achieve their goals. 

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