Jasal Shah, CEO and Managing Director, Markelytics and Velocity MR, is an MBA graduate from the Institute for Technology and Management and has worked with leading agencies like IDC (International Data Corporation) and IMRB International (Part of the Kantar Group, WPP’s information, insight and consultancy division). He specializes in technology-related market research.
According to the latest Fitch Rating report on April 23, 2020, the world economy is set to contract by 3.9% due to the restrictions implemented by countries fighting the COVID-19 the pandemic. With supply chains constricting, demand plummeting, and pricing erratic over the past couple of months, the economy is in a grim situation both globally and locally. Going by the current trends, it will be tougher in the coming months, at least for the next 2-3 quarters.
As businesses struggle to continue their operations as much as possible during the ongoing crisis, they also need to start preparing for the reopening of the economy once the pandemic is deemed to be under control. The brands or companies into essential services will continue businesses as usual, but consumers’ consumption patterns are set to change. Similarly, brands/companies into non-essential or aspirational products or services will take the maximum beating, and they will bounce back after 2-3 quarters with a humble beginning. For both sets of brands, those in essential and aspirational products or services, Strategic planning is critical to understand and adapt to the changing scenario.
How does a brand understand the paradigm shift in the consumption pattern of consumers? ‘Digital’ Market Research holds the answer.
Digital Market Research providers hold the competency in reach, tools & technicalities, qualified insights professional and, more importantly, the ability to deliver and understand consumers’ perspectives from their homes. They can help provide the necessary data and tools required. MR tools can help businesses in two ways – understanding the changing scenario and leverage it to their advantage.
Understanding Changing Business Scenario through Market Research
It is a given that businesses will be allowed to operate if they function responsibly. For instance, health safety measures will need to be in place so that the burden on already stretched healthcare systems does not increase further. Also, looking at the problems created by supply chains is disrupted due to the pandemic. Current business concepts like lean manufacturing and cheap outsourcing will need to be rethought so that people will not suffer in case of crises in the future.
Changes at such fundamental levels cannot be done whimsically, without any underlying data. Also, companies need to touch base with all stakeholders – investors, customers, and employees. Digital Market research can help in understanding the changes in social and economic fabric by reaching out to the target audience quickly and effectively, with minimum budget. Both time and costs are important factors for businesses that have already suffered huge losses. As customers shift their behaviour patterns, digital market research will help enterprises to understand how they can reorganize and reposition their products and services, which will be based on the insights received from consumers.
Health Concerns Will Require More Investments
Post COVID-19, working, and shopping practices will have a new normal, where social distancing and health safety will always be paramount. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to invest in measures like face guards, physical distancing, health screening, flexible sick leaves, etc., which require short-terms strategizing. Digital Market research tools like online surveys, online qualitative suite, online communities, can help companies understand the changing expectations, fears, and behaviours of both employees and customers, and formulate policies accordingly.
The Transitioning Customer
Recently, many studies have pointed to shifting customer behaviour as technology becomes more accessible. COVID-19 has accelerated that shift because online is more convenient for social distancing. Businesses need to reorient and re-strategize because the entire consumer behaviour and their patronage will see a change. Brands need to understand this changing pattern. To begin with, Digital MR can help them understand what customers expect. Online surveys can get them the necessary inputs to scratch the surface of this transitioning Customer. Still, online qualitative solutions can help them read the consumers’ psyche better, and brands can do Focus Group/IDIs from the comfort of their home. Companies can also use online communities to understand consumers’ minds actively or passively.
How Market Research Can Help Businesses Resurrect Themselves
A shrinking economy implies a reduction in spending capacity at all levels — from customers to businesses and everyone in between. Besides this, the whole paradigm of conducting business will need to be reorganized to achieve the desired balance between lives and livelihood. As discussed already, internal processes, delivery mechanisms, and customer engagement need to be redefined and redesigned. Digital MR is essential for businesses to understand how they can continue operating profitably and their long-term prospects.
Digital Market research companies like Markelytics are also upping their game by integrating new technology and tools in their processes to provide the much-needed evidence-based advice to brand managers and researchers. It helps businesses gain insights into their existing brand perception and what needs to be done to catapult it to new heights in the changed economic conditions post COVID-19. They were the pioneers of online data collection in India. Their vast Global Online Consumer, Healthcare Panel can help brands unearth more details. Moreover, their India Online Consumer Panel could help brands read the minds of consumers. With their latest integrations of Online Qualitative Suite, Online Brand Communities offerings – they have bundled their MR offering into Digital MR offerings.
Every threat also presents opportunities if one knows where to look. Digital Market research can help businesses identify new opportunities where none existed before. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced every sector to migrate from offline to online and impacted the way business must be conducted, it is bound to throw up new business ideas that can be converted to profitable ventures. Getting in touch with the audience through online surveys and online research tools can help entrepreneurs, as well as existing businesses, identify the new gaps created. Whatever the decisions reached by the businesses, depending upon their vision, mission, and strategies, digital market research will play a crucial role in moving forward.
More about Jasal Shah and Markelytics
Jasal Shah was recently felicitated with the Leadership Award by World Marketing Congress endorsed by CMO Asia for his contribution to Market Research Industry. On the personal front, he lives with his wife and sons in Bangalore. Shah has also served as the council member of the most prestigious global market research association – ESOMAR. Markelytics is a global market research company and leading provider of Global Project Management, MR Outsourcing solutions, Full-Service Research and Online Panel Services. They work on the principle of data-driven decision making and are the pioneers of Off-Shore Outsourcing model and Online Market Research in India. They have a worldwide presence to facilitate real market intelligence using the latest methodology, best-in-class research techniques and cost-effective measures for the world’s leading research professionals and agencies.