Consumer insights haven’t changed since before the pandemic; people and companies are still trying to understand the consumer and what they want out of a service or an offering. Companies want to know consumer insights for any potential new markets they could be growing into. However, what the pandemic has changed is how some of those questions are asked and how the consumer insights research is happening.
Consumer Insights Research Methods Have Changed
How companies go about consumer insights research has certainly changed. There is a focus around not just in-store visitations, but topics concerning online behaviors as well. The pandemic accelerated a lot of these consumer insight services.
Consumer Insights Budgets
Everyone is playing a lot of catch-up with research. Back in March and April of 2020, there was certainly a lull where a lot of companies were not spending at all. Some departments actually lost budget. Others didn’t necessarily lose budget but lost time because they were in a holding pattern for a couple of months. However, many companies’ budget spend, became active again around Labor Day 2020, and it went all the way through the end of the year. The trends were more of a full-on sprint in consumer insight projects for much of the last part of the year. There was a pause in consumer insight budgets, but then a full-on acceleration.
From an online panel perspective, there are only so many online panelists and so many people that can answer questions. It put a lot of stress on driving consumer insights for the end of the year.
From a client-side perspective, at a fundamental level, research hasn’t changed. There was certainly a pause in Q2 of 2020, as everyone was moving to work-from-home and trying to figure out what the industry would look like and how the competitive landscape was going to change. But then it was full speed ahead with consumer insight budgets to be spent and plans to deliver for 2021.
COVID-19 Accelerated Macro-trends & Remote Work
Not just from a marketing or a product standpoint, but from a big picture macro-trends standpoint, COVID-19 served as an accelerator for big picture trends going on before the pandemic. One of them that many have experienced is the move to remote work. White-Collar professionals being able to work from home is a trend that was happening before COVID, but now that everyone had a one-year crash course on how remote work functions and in what kinds of roles it works best with, we are seeing remote work environments being adopted in all industries.
“In my own company, before the pandemic, we had about 10% of our workforce working from home or not being in an office. Coming out of the pandemic, about 50% of our workforce continues to work remote. Even those folks who are in an office, hardly anyone is going to be there five days a week. We’ve learned that with increased flexibility with schedules, it really works well for individuals and the company. So work-from-home is an easy example because it’s a shared experience that many others have.” – Matt Baldwin, Marketing Vice President at Protective Life
Digital Transformation Accelerated
Whatever trends have been going on in your industry and the consumer insights research your company is doing, COVID has accelerated it.
For example, life insurance has been a laggard when it comes to moving away from paper forms, and documents have to be signed in person due to a variety of reasons. However, COVID has made companies make the investment to go digitally. Trends like this have happened before, but COVID accelerated it.
Across most industries, COVID has been a big accelerant for consumer insights research, and that’s what’s really going to make the post-COVID world feel different for all of us.