Surveys in the time of COVID-19: Is it okay?

By: Pete Cape
Director, Global Knowledge
This is the question on the minds of many brands today: In these times of pandemic, just how “normal” can we be?
Say a company decides to do some new product research, although this could also apply to almost any form of market research. Should they consider:

Just the fact of doing it? Might it appear frivolous per se?

What if the product itself is even vaguely healthcare related? Might it be perceived as opportunistic?

What if the product needs to be delivered to consumers to test? Does that take up valuable postal worker time? Run the risk of spreading the virus further?

All these are legitimate concerns and for corporations potentially represent a public relations disaster waiting to happen. They are also questions that can’t be answered by anyone except the people who might be affected – consumers themselves. And they would be willing to help because they would understand why you were asking these types of questions, assuming you phrased them sensitively.
So, if there are concerns of this nature, I believe it is worth taking at least two steps before you leap:
1. Ask people around you (but not just at your work): “How would you feel if…?” Let’s call that qualitative research with a very small sample. In fact, it would be a better qualitative research if your sample was your mother, not your best friend.
2. Do a pre-survey to check acceptability. Check what wordings would work best. What introduction should you make? Should you mention the pandemic at all? In all this, remember these are real people who are dealing with real feelings and concerns about themselves and their loved ones, so be nice and be sensitive. You might even want to humanise the survey a little by adding your name to it. I do that on my surveys, and I give my email address in case anyone want to contact me. They very rarely do, but I feel better for having done it.
And then you can go ahead, based on the feedback you get.
One last thing worth mentioning is that very few people read the introductions to our surveys, so if you want a respondent to read something you wrote then write it in the form of a question and keep it short and sweet – respondents don’t read the “blah blah” either.
Click here to download Dynata’s Global Trends Report Special Edition: COVID-19