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The Value of Online Research

A quarter of our time online is spent chatting, learning, and playing on social networks.  The modern consumer is now as comfortable online, and often more so, as they are in face to face encounters. With this in mind it is hard not to get excited by the value that online research brings to the industry. A methodology that once seemed a bit alien is now recognised as a natural way of capturing consumer insight.

The shift in time spent online, coupled with advances in web technology means that the value of online research is growing by the day.

If you are still considering whether its time to get your agency online,  or are trying to persuade your boss that the time has come, here are some of the key benefits of online research. These apply equally whether you use it as a standalone methodology or as a compliment to traditional market research.

Your Toolkit of Online Qual Research Methodologies

Any uncertainty surrounding the value of online qual as a methodology has been long since put to bed. Though there is still caution amongst some researchers who aren’t yet completely comfortable with putting their trade to practice online, by and large the industry is beginning to embrace the online methodology, and rightly so.

Modern technology coupled with increasing consumer savvyness means that we now have the ability to obtain an unbelievable amount of insight from consumers online. The benefits of using online qual research are no longer limited to the ‘convenience factor’ or the ability to overcome peer group pressure and conquer geographical barriers. Instead market researchers are turning to online for the trade tools that it adds to their research toolbox.

Will Online Qualitative Research Replace Face-to-Face? (Please Don’t Ask)

How many times in recent years have you been party to debates amongst market researchers and clients about whether online qualitative discussions will replace face-to-face research?  No doubt the answer is many.  In my view, this is the wrong debate for us to be having.  I think the industry should instead focus its energy on how online qual can complement rather than replace face-to-face research.

It’s difficult to browse a linked-in debate or attend a market research conference these days, without hearing comments like: “I’m sorry but you just can’t get the same depth in online qual as you can in face-to-face”.  While I largely agree with this idea, I believe it wastes a lot of energy and in fact inhibits the progress of what is clearly becoming an important element in many progressive market research methodologies.  Why do people insist on looking at online and face-to-face qual in opposition, when they in fact make perfect companions?