Online Qualitative Research: Optimizing the Respondent Experience

March 17, 2021 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital for many industries, including market research. More specifically, qualitative research. In-person focus groups and face-to-face in-depth interviews (IDIs) have been replaced by online research methodologies that enable consumers to share their thoughts and attitudes from the safety of their homes. Essential to the success of online qualitative research, however, is the respondent experience.

Selecting virtual platforms that are user-friendly yet effective reduces the friction that can result in respondent frustration and subsequent disengagement. The convenience of the virtual environment saves time and money and makes the research opportunity more accessible to respondents who may otherwise decline to participate. Yet, the shift to online qualitative research has its share of disadvantages. Historically, recruiting respondents for in-person focus groups has been difficult, especially among Hispanic and Black Americans. Those challenges carry over into the virtual space. Shifting online has improved accessibility, but unfamiliarity with the platforms and limited internet bandwidth connections are just two factors that researchers have to contend with.

The shift to online qualitative research may have been the industry’s pivot to stay viable, but clients requesting qual studies aren't in a rush to return to in-person, signaling a shift to hybrid models going forward.

To share further insights into the industry’s pivot online, market research industry veteran Delphyne Lomax Taylor, Principal of V&L Research and Consulting, Inc., joins us on The New Mainstream podcast to discuss the pros and cons of online qualitative research and the importance of the respondent experience.