Going online is the path forward for offline survey research


By Simon Beedell

Consumer habits have permanently changed

Two weeks ago it was my daughter’s birthday and in a non-lockdown scenario we would have probably marked the occasion with a visit to the cinema and a meal at a restaurant.  Instead, we stayed at home and purchased the newly released Trolls World Tour film and ordered food from a local restaurant to be delivered.

This has made me consider how much of our new consumer behaviour will remain post-COVID-19 and all become part of our everyday lives for the long-term.  Many online retailers have fared well during this current crisis but this has also been to the detriment of traditional bricks and mortar stores – and this trend is likely to continue.

Offline survey research is no longer feasible

When it comes to offline research it is common to see a clipboard in the hand of the field researcher in a shopping mall or on the high street where they try to catch the eye of passers by to see if they can spare 10 minutes to answer their survey.

In the future this could prove challenging with more people preferring to consume their entertainment at home and purchase goods online that can be delivered the following day. Another point to consider is that the younger generations who conduct so much of their lives through their mobile devices are difficult to engage with outside of this environment.

With the growing trend of at-home and mobile entertainment and shopping, many field researchers will find it difficult to reach survey respondents in-person; and if they do reach them in-person, getting a large enough (and diverse enough) sample size is less feasible. Ultimately, as the behaviours of respondents evolve, researchers must adapt to these changes. In this case, researchers should consider transitioning from conducting offline surveys to online surveys.

Transitioning offline surveys to online is simple

As we adopt the new normal it is logical that market research will also continue to shift to an online environment where we could see the clipboard being replaced with an online survey.  While utilising an online survey in place of an offline survey is simple, the process is not a case of replicating the A4 pages onto a computer screen. There are considerations that will need to be made to ensure the success of the research project.

We must note that so much of our online activity takes place through our phones and therefore the survey needs to be optimised for a mobile rather than desktop screen. It is common for online scripting tools to offer a mobile preview of the questionnaire so it is important to use this functionality and put yourself in the shoes of the respondent.  We see 53% of survey respondents entering the Lucid Marketplace on a mobile device so do not expect that a large grid style survey to be a pleasant experience for the respondent.

In order to maximise the survey engagement and experience the overall length of the survey should be considered (we recommend 10 minutes or less). It’s also important to consider the style of questions (we recommend limiting open-ends) and utilising media such as pictures or video where possible.

Cint can further optimise your online studies

Contact our team if you are interested in more information about moving your offline surveys to online.