Easter is usually the time of year where the fieldwork side of our agency sees an explosion in demand for conducting face to face surveys at shopping centres, retail parks, high streets etc. around the country. We are usually then busy talking to people throughout the summer and into the autumn, with survey numbers peaking just before Christmas.
This year, however, is obviously very different to any other I can remember in my lifetime. The Covid-19 crisis has affected our business like so many other businesses around the world. All of our face to face fieldwork was immediately halted as lockdown approached, and a return to ‘normality’ remains unknown.
But when this is over, what do we think the impact will be on face-to-face fieldwork? There’s a myriad of ways of speaking to people and the recent lockdown has been a testament to that, but our view is that F2F is, and always will be, a hugely valuable resource for gathering ‘in the moment’ feedback. Our hope is that landowners will be keen to commission surveys to quickly assess how the crisis has affected their shopping centres so they can project how they’re going to move forward.
Rather than looking at purely functional ratings of centres we also need to find out about visitors’ emotional ties to locations blending System 1 with System 2 feedback. A whole host of questions and hypotheses exist that need to be understood...
So, there are plenty of questions we’re going to need to ask shoppers, visitors and customers but will the enforced break have made respondents more willing to give up their time to talk to strangers or will there be a suspicion about being careful who people talk to/get close to?
Looking at it through another lens, we may see the workforce has changed during this time with interviewer numbers having dwindled as they sought alternative employment during the crisis and have decided not to return to Market Research. More positively we may find that the crisis sees an influx of new interviewers as people reassess their lives and are looking for more flexible jobs where they can work around the needs of their family.
With so many uncertainties, any agency supplying face-to-face fieldwork has plenty to think about. What is certain however, is that once life returns to ‘normal’ at Market Measures, we will be more than ready to take up our tools again, and continue to provide the deep understanding and rich insight our clients both need and expect from talking to people face-to-face once more.