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Qualitative market research focuses on generating in-depth, detailed explanations of the research problem based on the perceptions, experiences and behaviours of individuals or groups. Such insights are vital to businesses when trying to maintain an edge over their rivals. However, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on qualitative research. Researchers at market research companies must adapt their approach to ensure projects continue to generate valuable data.
Impact of COVID-19 on Conventional Qualitative Methodologies
Face-to-face (F2F) interviews, focus groups, telephone interviews and ethnography are some of the most commonly used methods for qualitative data collection. However, with social distancing enforced for the foreseeable future, F2F studies cannot be conducted, bringing a degree of uncertainty to the continuity of successful qualitative research.
For your next healthcare market research project, you could consider utilising telephone-depth interviews (TDIs) as your methodology of choice. While TDIs are not impacted by social-distancing regulations, they may not be suitable for certain types of research (usability testing etc.), and interviewers are unable to analyse the non-verbal behaviour and expressions of participants. Moreover, for the continuity of effective qualitative research, we recommend you consider making use of online platforms for your next project.
Online Qualitative Research Methodologies
Live Video IDIs & Focus Groups
Face-to-face in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus groups can be replicated online via telecommunications applications that specialise in video chat, or on purpose-built qualitative video interview platforms. Live video IDIs and online focus groups will follow the same pattern as the conventional methodologies, with moderators using a discussion guide to ensure the participant or group stay on topic.
Here are some reasons why you could consider using live video IDIs and focus groups as part of your next project:
Mobile ethnography utilises an app on the respondents’ smartphone which enables them to diarise their behaviours, feelings and experiences 'in-the-moment' using videos, photos, or text. These multimedia diary posts are automatically uploaded from their smartphones via WiFi or 3/4G so that researchers can immediately observe and analyse the data through the app.
Listed below are several reasons why you could consider using mobile ethnography to gain valuable insights into your customers’ perceptions and experiences with a medical product or technology:
Market Research Online Communities
Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) have recently grown in popularity among qualitative researchers. MROCs are private online venues set up for a network of participants who take part in a series of activities and conversations surrounding a certain topic over a prolonged period of time. MROCs are largely unmoderated, which gives participants the opportunity to discuss and explore certain topics freely with one-another via social media-style messaging and posts.
The main benefits of using MROCs for your next project are listed below:
Eye Tracking and Facial Coding
Eye tracking is a process of tracking point of gaze or motion of the eye, whilst facial coding analyses small changes in the respondent’s facial expression. Both of these processes can be utilised to measure the participants' responses to concepts or stimuli. Eye tracking and facial coding studies are usually conducted in laboratories, however, technological developments have provided researchers with the option to use each process online.
Here are some reasons why you could consider using eye tracking or facial coding:
How to Conduct Effective & Ethical Online Qualitative Research:
Some of the considerations that have to be made prior to conducting a conventional qualitative study must also be applied to any online qualitative research to ensure that it runs smoothly and successfully. Here are just a few of the aspects you need to think about:
There are other important considerations too. Online qualitative research is relatively new, and due to the complex nature of internet-based studies compared to F2F research, we cannot expect the guidelines and ethical principles to remain the same. Listed below are some of the unique online qualitative aspects that need to be considered:
The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way we conduct qualitative market research. Social-distancing measures make F2F research impossible for the foreseeable future, forcing researchers at market research companies into redesigning or even suspending projects.
If you were planning on carrying out F2F research prior to the implementation of social-distancing regulations, and are reluctant to use other conventional methods such as TDIs, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation and we’d be happy to discuss your options.
IDR Medical has over a decade of experience in conducting qualitative market research tailored to healthcare markets. As a renowned market research industry leader, we have conducted projects in over 30 countries to drive success of the products and services of our clients.