“Should I be doing research now?” Why this is the perfect time to conduct research

Image of the post author Bianca Abulafia

A few weeks ago, something extraordinary happened.

We ran out of eggs.

There were, quite literally, no eggs to be found anywhere in our little corner of South West London.

I was devastated.

It wasn’t until I couldn’t get my hands on any that I really appreciated how fundamental eggs were to my daily diet. And it got me thinking about how (please forgive me) ‘eggs-traordinary’ this current time is, for a number of reasons.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times I’ve asked a focus group, depth interviewee or online community what they’d do if a certain product or service that we are investigating suddenly disappeared. Deprivation questions are tried and tested qual tools. But they rely on respondents hypothesizing about how they might react in a scenario in which everyday products aren’t available.

The truth is, we’re now living in that scenario.

We’ve had many clients asking us whether they should be doing research now. But this is why, as strange as it may sound, now is the perfect time to conduct research.

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Consumers are now keenly aware of the products and brands they value in their lives – be that eggs, loo roll, or self-raising flour. They are more able than ever before to tell us why they are so important to them – because they have had to live through the realities of living without.

And there’s another, even more important dimension at play here too. Not only are we feeling the lack of products and brands more keenly – our expectations of the roles that brands play not just in our lives, but in society as a whole have dramatically shifted. As beer brands and fashion houses alike pivot towards producing hand sanitizer for health services, we’re seeing a shift towards an expectation that brands will pitch in to play their part in overcoming the pandemic.

For brands to survive in the post-pandemic world, they don’t just need to tap into an understanding of how and why their products matter to consumers, they need to understand how expectations are changing, and how that might affect their brand strategy in the future.