If passenger volume at airports across America is any indication, domestic travel in the U.S. is rebounding from the pandemic, a hopeful sign that COVID-19 is in our rearview.  But it’s not just air travel that winks at a return to normalcy.  Millions of Americans are vaccinated, and the majority of states have lifted restrictions. Madison Square Garden, for example, experienced its first sold out concert since the onset of the pandemic when the Foo Fighters took to the stage on June 20th  to play for vaccinated fans, an impressive feat considering New York’s struggle to contain the virus in 2020. Other industries are powering back as well, like the online sample industry.

Market researchers had to pivot last year, as in-person focus groups were silenced and brands pulled back on marketing. This year, we’ll need to do that again, as requests for online sample revs up to meet demand as digital ad spend soars. Here are some of the changes you can expect over the next few months, including how SampleCon will help the online sample industry prepare.

Online Sample Evolves Post Pandemic.

While the online sample industry had to do some maneuvering last year, in general, it saw an unlikely bump due to some brands needing insights into how consumer behavior was changing. However, there was a transition period early on when companies had to adjust to remote work. Unfortunately, in some cases, they also had to cut labor. Once the transition period leveled out, sample companies adjusted to the new normal. Like everyone else, we used tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to meet with clients and attend industry events. Eighteen months later, sample providers are preparing to attend our first in-person convention in a while, SampleCon 2021, this July.

But even with the shift back to in-person, the transition doesn’t come without challenges. The world has made advances in technology over the past 18 months. In some instances, however, the online sample industry has not kept up. We’ll need to be active participants in these conversations to ensure the online sample industry evolves as technology does. We’re also expecting some market research clients to experiment with methodologies that are not online. It will be fascinating to see and experience the transition but challenging as we work to find balance.

Calls for Data Quality Continue.

Let’s turn back to SampleCon. Last year’s virtual conference had one main focus, “data quality.”  It was the dominant conversation at the event with many company CEOs participating in panels explaining what they were doing to fix issues with bad data. New companies were created, partnerships were formed, and innovation emerged. SampleCon 2021 will likely focus on empowering industry leaders with new tools and methodologies needed to regain momentum after a difficult year. Stories of survival to inspire us and industry expertise to challenge us will undoubtedly be on the agenda. But improvements in data quality will continue to be the online sample industry’s biggest opportunity for growth and innovation. At ThinkNow, we are rising to the challenge.