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Given the current situation with COVID-19, businesses are facing uncertainty and have more questions than ever around the pricing of existing and new products. Typically, companies would engage in research (i.e. surveys, interviews and focus groups) with their customers to help answer some of their near and long term pricing strategy questions.
However, with the COVID-19 crisis causing upheaval to business environments, many companies are questioning the accessibility and reliability of customer research and are wondering if:
All these concerns are valid when considering and evaluating the role of customer research during a time of crisis. Keep in mind that there have been a few times in recent history when companies have faced similar situations of high business uncertainty; the 2008 recession, SARS and 9/11. During each of these highly uncertain times businesses had similar questions and concerns. To think this through we have outlined the possible challenges that may develop when conducting research during this time period, potential solutions to address and minimize these research challenges, and pertinent feedback from the front-line respondent recruiters and market research panel companies who are conducting research during the COVID-19 crisis.
Some challenges that could potentially impact the execution and outcomes of customer research during times of uncertainty include:
Knowing that different types of pricing research achieve different goals and provide various insights, it’s important to implement strategic research design and execution considerations to minimize the challenges mentioned above.
Jackie Lorch points out in her article Research Continuity in the Time of COVID-19, that “it is more vital than ever to keep in touch with [consumers] and not risk being left with a data ‘black hole’ as the world recovers.” With this advice in mind, our team recommends the following best practices:
We partner with different global fielding and respondent panel agencies that recruit and survey consumers in both B2C and B2B spaces. We have casually polled many of these fielding market research partners, who agree that overall response rates have not significantly changed.
In some cases, customer rates have modestly improved as people suddenly have more free time on hand. Some feedback even suggests that participants are eager to participate in a topic that is not COVID-19 related. While this response is certainly dependent on the consumer or customer type and business vertical, recent research from M3 Global Research on the effect of COVID-19 on healthcare market research participation suggests that “for 99.7% of respondents (n=5,665) that are willing to continue to take part, market research is a welcome distraction from the immense pressure they’re under at work.”
Ultimately, key business strategy questions around a new or existing product’s pricing and value proposition continue to develop and need to be addressed, despite the COVID-19 crisis. Our team believes that customer research during the COVID-19 crisis can still produce reliable results when carefully implemented. With this in mind, we recommend our clients continue to explore consumer perceptions of value and willingness-to-pay, while taking the recommendations of how to conduct customer research during a time of crisis into consideration with research design.
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