Evidence To Continue With Innovation Research during Pandemic

One of the most pressing questions in the minds of marketeers today is – is it worth doing innovation research with consumers given the current consumer sentiment?

There is only one thing we can be certain of, and that is that the Pandemic will have an influence on consumers lives for a long time to come. Projections about the health crisis predict a ‘back to the new normal’ followed by a recession, so it is highly likely that the impact on consumers will only start to stabilise in roughly 6 to 18 months time.

Consumer confidence dropped after 9/11 and stayed the same for 4 years. After the 2008 crisis, it took 7 years to get back on the same level. Confidence amidst the crisis was closer to the confidence in the period afterward than to what it was before (source: Trading Economics).

Stopping research for months on end does not seem like a particularly good option, especially in such a changing landscape.

Where innovation research is concerned, a recent and ongoing study conducted by Zappi makes a very compelling case to continue developing and testing innovation concepts, with a good level of confidence.

Excerpt from Zappi;

“This research was conducted in five markets (US, UK, China, Italy and Mexico), and included the re-test of 26 concepts and advertisements from six consumer categories (personal care, food and beverage, home hygiene, Telco, QSR, OTC). Overall, 4,050 consumers were surveyed.

The analysis focused on comparing results of the original vs. re-test across key variables for advertising and innovation testing: behavior change (purchase intent/consideration), overall appeal, relevance, and unaided mentions of COVID-19 in open-ended questions. Finally, we included Zappi’s cultural sensitivity module to assess the rate of offensiveness of the stimuli.

From this research we conclude that it is safe to conduct online quantitative research to test concepts and advertising, and due to the overwhelming consistency of the results, that at this point in time tests are reliable and comparable with research conducted prior to the COVID-19 virus crisis.”

You can access Zappi’s full study here: https://www.zappi.io/web/pages/the-impact-of-covid-19

Finally, many of our clients have asked if it’s insensitive to solicit consumers to undertake research during these times. We don’t believe that it is. We’ve found that consumers welcome the benefits that participation in innovation research provides. They enjoy the distraction, the entertainment value, the sense that they are being helpful and adding value, the incentives, and the feeling of normality it gives them.

There are obviously exceptions to this though.

You may have a really hard time gaining cooperation from front line workers, and parents who are home schooling their children. But most other types of people, especially younger adults, are likely more willing than before to participate, as their out-of-home options have pretty much ceased to exist and Netflix starts to lose it’s sheen.


If you’d like to chat through how to tackle your innovation challenge in light of the current circumstances, then please get in touch; shelly@thestrategydistillery.com