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A.M.C. MEMBER NEWS

How Covid has also changed the world of modern marketing research

By our News Team | 2022

IMM Fridays breakfast event hears how the rapid growth of online research techniques is changing the face of consumer insight in Africa.

The marketing research and insights business was turned upside down by Covid, with research teams no longer able to rely on face-to-face interviews and in-person focus groups. Globally, factors such as war and natural disaster have only added to the problem.

But the industry is nothing if not resourceful, and it was quickly able to pivot to online research methodologies to keep marketers happy and their brand strategies on track during the pandemic. Like so many adjustments made during lockdown, the changes now seem permanent.

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Photo courtesy of Institute of Marketing Management South Africa

Speaking at the most recent IMM Fridays event held at the Institute of Marketing Management South Africa campus in Johannesburg, Amith Sheopershad of Cint, a global software leader in digital insights, discussed the ‘The Digital Revolution in Consumer and Market Research’.

His emphasis was on how post-pandemic marketers can successfully transition from traditional offline and face-to-face research to newer internet-based strategies.

Sheopershad noted that, while offline research continues to have a place – notably for in-depth consumer interviews, intercepting consumers while the moment is still fresh, and for observing consumer behaviour in real time – benefits of online research include lower cost and shorter turnaround times. 

Field research may take only days

Whereas traditional research typically has a three-month turnaround cycle, online research companies such as Cint – which have large databases of pre-qualified interviewees – can do the turnaround in a matter of weeks, with the field research element taking only days. 

“The problem with a three-month timeframe is that the market moves on,” he stressed.

Sheopershad conceded that there are well-documented challenges with online research, including people working to dupe the system for financial gain. These included ‘professional panellists’ whose strategy was to be on as many paid research panels as possible, and ‘speedsters’, who completed research questionnaires as quickly as possible, with no regard for the accuracy of the data they supplied.

But he said the industry had developed checks and balances to detect most of these activities.

Looking specifically at research trends in Africa, he noted that the continent still tends to lag global research tech-adoption trends. It was also noticeable that African research spending was declining, while elsewhere it was increasing. 

Among the reasons is that many big corporates have created centralised global research hubs, meaning that research spending is no longer being allocated by local offices. 

Sheopershad emphasised that the continent’s marketers and research houses could not ignore the global movement to online. “For Africa, the future [of research] is already here. We just have to take hold of it,” he said.

IMM Fridays take place on the last Friday of every month. The aim of the IMM is to bring together like-minded individuals to share thoughts and experiences within the rapidly changing marketing environment. The IMM offers a wide range of value-added products and services for marketing professionals who are Associates in either an individual or corporate capacity. Find out more about the IMM here.

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