In today’s environment, there has been an accelerated push towards online Qualitative Research. The pandemic has severely limited the ability to do in-person research, so more is going to have to be done online. Despite all the advancements, how do we overcome the challenges and limitations of online Qual, especially for shopper research?
The Challenges of Traditional Online Qual
For decades, researchers have known human interaction is necessary to identify hidden drivers. Body language and facial expressions are difficult to read in an online environment. Video still hasn’t solved how to taste, touch, or smell something. Shoppers often lack contextual cues relative to the shopping experience. For instance, it’s been shown that improving the lighting over certain displays increases the time shoppers spend inspecting the display as well as the number of products touched. How do we compensate for this in an online environment? Perhaps most importantly, how do you conduct an in-store discussion when the moderator can’t be present? The importance of the moderator in-store can’t be overstated. They guide the discussion and drive the conversation towards better clarity to deliver deeper insights.
Despite the limitations of online Qual, there are many advantages, speed and cost being the two most obvious. In addition, these studies can be conducted and accessed from anywhere in the world 24/7/365. Due to constrained budgets, every stakeholder must do more with less and the simple truth is that online studies are more cost-effective. But there are other advantages as well.
Participants More Comfortable
Since consumers are using online tools regularly in their personal lives every day, they are more comfortable participating in online research studies. The tech is getting better all the time and there are fewer glitches on platforms. We’re seeing more of consumers’ authentic selves – they’re more comfortable on camera, in their own space, and have a greater willingness to share.
Due to the immersive nature of online Qual, deeper emotive responses can be uncovered. These studies allow researchers to experience shopper’s emotions and actions as they happen over a longer period of time.
Global Reach / More Markets
Advances in technology allow studies to run simultaneously in multiple countries to gain worldwide insights in a matter of weeks versus using traditional methods that take months to field and generate results. Translation and transcription have also been streamlined using AI and machine learning technologies.
Explorer has the Solution for the Next Generation of Online Qual
The question then becomes how do we overcome the limitations of online Qual? Explorer’s Immersive Online Qualitative Research platform addresses this issue effectively by combining the benefits of online Qual with immersive environments. Using 3D environments where we immerse a moderator to conduct the research, we create the proper context to drive the identification of behavioral insights safely and efficiently. The moderator can be streamed live from our Shopper lab, immersed in an in-store video or Virtual Reality environment. These environments are fully interactive enabling respondents to walk through the store, pan 360 degrees, and zoom in on specific shelf sets and products.
Shop-along moderator immersed into an online VR environment