In-Person Consumer Research During COVID-19

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow 

As we continue to recover and work through pandemic-related changes to consumer research, we have seen a steady increase in the number of research requestsboth quantitative and qualitativewhere in-person executions are preferred or necessary due to stimulus/product handling requirements.  Finding ways to balance consumer safety while maintaining high quality in-person research has been a priority for InsightsNow and our clientsBy continually monitoring news, local and national guidelines, we are able to advise ways to make in-person research safer during the pandemic. Here are some ways we have managed to continue onsite testingand some options which can be considered to continue providing high levels of safety while conducting in-person and face-to-face research.    

agile gymnastics

Creating Flexible Plans

First and foremost, create flexible back-up plans. Things are changing day-by-day and sometimes we need to pivot to an alternate plan, like a change to serving schedules, moving to a different market or adjusting timelines. Agreeing on a back-up plan early allows you to flex quickly when changes arise. 

People group

Limiting In-Person Group Size

Reduce the number of consumers per timeslot or session to adhere to the national and local COVID-19 safety guidelines. This ensures consumers experience less contact in the waiting room, while participating in a CLT or even within a focus group. Ideas for implementation include more sessions in a day or considering spreading sessions across multiple days. Pay special attention to overlap time periods where people are arriving and leaving and plan for the least number of people overlapping as possible. By having fewer consumers come in at once, facilities can provide more personalized attention for quantitative studies, and moderators can probe deeper during qualitative studies. 

Person at cafe table

Adjusting Facility Room Set-Up

With smaller sessions, you can consider changing the room setup. Pulling inspiration from restaurants, we have been spreading consumers throughout the room for in-person sessions. The room, tablets, and any supplies are sanitized thoroughly between consumers. Bleveraging news and following safety guidelines your participants may have heard about regarding how restaurants keep people safe, you make everyone more comfortable with the study and the in-person parameters.

face-mask

Conveying the Right Mask Message

Any consumer completing onsite testing is required to wear a mask at all times, except when they are seated and actively tasting or drinking samples. The mask requirement can bring both comfort and fear, so researchers must carefully consider what subconscious cue to conveyespecially if the research is branded in any way. Making everyone wear a blue medical mask gives a different room vibe than allowing people to bring their own mask and use it to share a bit about their personality—perhaps as part of an ice-breaker session. There are tools/tricks that moderators can utilize to overcome communication challenges that arise from wearing masks. 

Airplane

Finding Options to Traveling

Requiring research team members to travel to facilities can also be difficult, with many states imposing quarantine guidelines for travel across state lines. For those able to attend, facilities are recommending reduced numbers for kitchen prep or back room viewing. In our experience, there are many ways to have a “hybrid” experience that allows consumers to come in person for control of products, yet virtually interact with other consumers, researchers and client teams. This eliminates the need for team members and moderators to travel yet allows for an in-person experience from a product perspective. Just because you need consumers to come to a controlled location doesn’t mean the interviewers or moderators also need to be in that location – you can run a video interview with each consumer at their own separate station with the moderator and viewers all remote.  

Thought bubble dark

Are you struggling with how to execute an in-person protocol during COVID? Give us a call and we can discuss options to keep everyone as safe as possible and help you think through designs which require the least amount of face –to-face interaction for the safety of all involved.  

Consumer Trust and the Future of The Restaurant Industry

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow 

While many industries have been hit hard by the fallout from COVID-19, the restaurant industry reached an estimated $145 billion in losses during the first four months of the pandemic. While recent months have seen a slight uptick in restaurant business as stay-at-home orders relax and restrictions are lifted across the nation, the long-term negative impact of this business interruption will continue for quite some time.

Creative solutions to impact bottom line

Even though restaurants have largely been allowed to reopen and limited in-restaurant dining is now permitted in most areas, there are strict capacity limitations and distancing requirements in place. When capacity to serve goes down, it is extremely impactful on the already narrow profit margins under which restaurants operate. Restaurants and cities have been coming up with creative solutions to support these businesses, like blocking off sidewalks and parts of city streets to expand the dining footprint (and allow outdoor seating).

Consumer behavior regarding restaurant visits

In a recent wave of our InsightsNow ongoing study, “COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior,” we uncovered insights into consumer behavior regarding restaurant visits. The research delves into insights from our proprietary, trend-identifying Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community.

Our results show that the majority of people are still quite unwilling to go INTO a restaurant to eat. As time goes on and the weather stays mostly pleasant in many areas of the country, more and more CLE are willing to sit outside at a dining establishment—and even more willing to go through the drive-through of a fast food restaurant. However, sitting inside is not changing.

Trust in Foodservice safety

Consumer Trust in Restaurants

This avoidance of indoor seating is primarily driven by a lack of trust in the restaurants' ability to keep everything clean enough to prevent the spread of the virus. Some consumer quotes from our study illustrate the tension.

Personally, I don’t think self-serve drink stations, touch screen kiosks and silverware wrapped in napkins are fully safe nor clean. How do we know that the person asked to wrap the silverware has washed his/her hands, wore gloves or even a mask? So many questions, so few answers. 

I went to a restaurant recently and sat outside. Waitress was very cheerful, no wait and had a wonderful breakfast on real plates and used real utensils. Everything was very clean, and I really enjoyed it.  I do think that you should be careful when going to restaurants though. 

“Individual packages seem to be safer than containers left on the table in which everyone at the table touched or breathes on. I am more concerned with the people who handle my food. Did they wash their hands?  Do they live in a home with 10 or more people? I don’t trust others' hygiene routines compared to mine.’” 

Combine this with the continual fear of being in less control of your own safety when inside closed rooms, and it is clear it will be quite some time before dining patrons are willing to risk sitting indoors to enjoy a meal at their favorite restaurants again, and we will see continued impact on the bottom line for restaurants across the country.

To learn more about consumer behavior regarding dining choices, view the recording of our recent webinar on Restaurant and Fast Food Behaviors: Sustainability Trade-offs during COVID. 

Press: Study shows shoppers seeking products to lift mood and satisfy cravings

InsightsNow research indicates changing consumer behavior, and predicts impact on consumer product companies during COVID-19

CHICAGO, IL, UNITED STATES, July 22,
2020 /EINPresswire.com/ --

InsightsNow, a behavioral research firm, has announced new research focusing on consumer motivations and shopping behavior during the current pandemic. This wave of the ongoing study, "COVID-19 Tracker on Clean
Living Behavior," delves into insights regarding consumer lifestyle disruption and the impact on interaction with
brands. Study participants are from their trend-identifying Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community, with research techniques using proprietary behavioral research frameworks.

"Just like the stages of grief, we are now finding consumer behavior to follow predictable stages in
motivations.”

InsightsNow Chief Research
Officer, Greg Stucky

"Just like the stages of grief, we are now finding consumer behavior to follow predictable stages in motivations," says InsightsNow Chief Research Officer, Greg Stucky. "Our COVID-19 tracker has discovered a range of new opportunities for CPG companies to launch line extensions and to reposition existing products to align with what consumers are seeking."

The current tracker data shows consumer purchase motivators are shifting to satisfy psychological mood lifters and sensorial cravings as the coronavirus pandemic continues. While functional health and safety were found to be important during early stages of the pandemic, those motivators have decreased in importance as consumers report seeking out experiences to change their mood.

Key findings from the study:

  • At the end of June 2020, the study showed 61% of increased consumer product purchases were driven by a desire to lift mood or to satisfy craving for specific sensory experiences, up from 6% in March 2020.
  • Functional health and safety motivators have dropped to 54% of increased purchases in late June, down from 84% in March 2020.
  • Social motivators associated with providing healthy alternatives for family members or to respond to recommendations from friends also increased to 44% at the end of June from 24% in March 2020.
InsightsNow Clean Label Enthusiasts™ Behavioral Research Communities
7-12 Period Motivations predictions

Now might be the best time to launch new product innovations for your consumers.

"This growing consumer desire for mood lifters and to satisfy cravings offers new opportunities for consumer product companies," says InsightsNow Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Dave Lundahl. "Now is the time for brands to differentiate through product positioning and launching of line extensions to meet the quickly changing consumer landscape."

Each week InsightsNow's Clean Label Enthusiast® community of primary shoppers reveals motivations for purchasing behaviors, tracking behavior pre-pandemic, current short-term shifts, and potential permanent changes. You can see the ongoing study here:
https://www.insightsnow.com/custom-communities/responses-to-covid-19/

To learn more about the COVID-19 tracker study and enquire about upcoming research topics, reach out to InsightsNow at michelle.andre@insightsnow.com.

Food Business News “IFT20: COVID-19 impacting consumer perceptions of health and wellness”

Monday, July 13, 2020

SHIFT20 Virtual

Food Business News spotlighted InsightsNow's virtual webinar at SHIFT20 on how the pandemic is affecting Global Consumer Perceptions of Health & Wellness.  Results from research conducted in fall of 2019 and April 2020 across 10 countries revealed regional and cultural differences in attitudes and behaviors regarding health which have sharpened due to the pandemic threat.

Because of COVID-19 consumers have heightened interest in ingredients in foods that provide health benefits, eg. boost immunity, decrease inflammation, boost cardiac and GI function, reduce stress, and improve general well-being.   As the article quoted presenter Greg Stucky, “Now, nearly half the population on a global basis are looking for good sources of vitamins and minerals.”

This virtual webinar is available on-demand at Institute of Food Technologists first totally virtual Annual Meeting and Expo.  It is one of two presentations from InsightsNow at ShIFT20.  InsightsNow is also a sponsor of a symposium on Global Design of Clean Label Foods.

Consumers turn to immunity supplements during COVID-19

The Clean Label Enthusiasts® research community at InsightsNow reveals demand for immunity supplements and functional ingredients during the continuing pandemic 

25 June 2020 – Chicago, IL  InsightsNow, a behavioral research firm, has released a new wave of research focusing on consumer perceptions and behavior regarding supplements and functional ingredients in today’s world. The study, “COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior,” delves into insights from their proprietary, trend-identifying Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community.  

Study participants shared beliefs that supplements and functional ingredients are important for strengthening their immune systems against COVID-19. The research showed that consumers are looking for trusted sources for information about which products will help boost immunity.  

According to a CLE from the recent study: If the [supplement] information is backed by scientific research and data, I am much more likely to trust the information I am receiving. If the ingredients have been proven to show benefitsI am much more likely to try a supplement. 

It was also found that all-natural and organic supplement claims are perceived as valuable by CLE. They express that these claims give them confidence they are only getting what is necessary, with no fillers, in the products they choose to purchase. 

I look for supplements that are organic and do not have ingredients that aren’t necessary, such as additives and dyes. If someone I know and trust recommends a brand that I’ve never heard of, I will research it to make sure it only contains ingredients I’m aware of,” says a CLE. 

Some key findings from the study: 

  • Forty-two percent of CLE believe supplements or functional ingredients will strengthen their immunity, 48% think they might help, while only 10% do not think they will help.  
  • Seventy-five percent of CLE said that supplements are somewhat or very important in strengthening their immunity against COVID-19. 
  • Thirty-nine percent of CLE said they look for supplement and functional ingredient information on Google, 24% look to friends and family, 22% to doctors and medical professionals. 

The responses show that supplements and functional ingredients offer hope of immunity even though there is no “proof” they improve immunity. 

As one CLE states: COVID-19 is new, and we don't know of anything that help us build an immunity to it. However, building your immunity through a supplement or a functional ingredient can't hurt your chances.” 

Each week InsightsNow's Clean Label Enthusiast® community of primary shoppers reveals motivations for purchasing behaviors through an online shopping journal. The study gives insights into the swiftly changing landscape of clean-living behaviors during this time by tracking behavior pre-pandemic, current short-term shifts, and potential permanent changes. New study information is added on a regular basis to the InsightsNow COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior. 

To learn more about the study and enquire about upcoming research topics, reach out to InsightsNow at michelle.andre@insightsnow.com.  

About InsightsNow
InsightsNow, an agile behavioral research firm, partners with clients across a wide array of industry verticals to grow marketing, branding and product development through custom, cutting-edge research technologies and innovative techniques. The company specializes in finding answers faster, improving speed-to and success-in market, and changing the way we all look at humans and human behavior. InsightsNow was named one of the most innovative market research firms in the world by Greenbook’s 2018 Grit Report. www.insightsnow.com 

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Media contact: Michelle Andre, 415-577-8634, michelle.andre@insightsnow.com. 

Recent meat shortage could offer opportunity for plant-based proteins

Recent meat shortage could offer opportunity for plant-based proteins

InsightsNow’s Clean Label Enthusiasts® research community claims to be prepared for meat shortages, due to the Coronavirus, by eating vegetarian or purchasing alternative meats

11 June 2020 – Chicago, IL – InsightsNow, a behavioral research firm, has announced the latest results of their ongoing study with their proprietary Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) consumer research community, “COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior.” These trend-setting consumers shared thoughts on how meat is becoming harder to find and more expensive due to complications from the current pandemic, and the effect on their shopping behavior.

According to a CLE from the recent study: “I feel prepared for a meat shortage because I am willing to eat plant-based proteins or any protein options I can find in stores. If I can't find fresh chicken or beef, I will eat other meat options like veggies burgers or beans. I really see a meat shortage as a chance to make healthier, more environmentally friendly, more resourceful food choices.”

Some key findings from the study:

  • During a meat shortage 60% of CLE would switch to a vegetarian diet. Currently, only 14% are following a vegetarian diet.

  • CLE who have never tried plant-based meats are primarily motivated to try because they believe it is healthier (29%), they are curious about the taste (31%), and they can avoid animal hormones (19%).

Plant-based meat alternatives have opportunity to grow market share during a meat shortage, as Clean Label Enthusiasts (CLE) are comfortable eating a plant-based diet and are willing to use plant-based meats in place of fresh meat with similar pricing. Supporting data includes:

  • Only 12% of CLE say they would pay higher prices (specifically twice as much) to continue eating fresh meat.

  • Eighty-two percent of CLE are open to trying plant-based meat alternatives.

For example, the study participants shared they are specifically looking for ground plant-based meat alternatives as a comparable alternative for burgers, tacos, spaghetti, and other dishes they regularly prepare.

“I imagine that ground chuck would be the hardest meat product to go without,” says a CLE consumer. “But I would not be upset if I could not afford to buy it for a period of time, because I would easily substitute it with plant-based patties and other frozen forms of plant-based substitutes.”

Results from this wave of the study show the majority of people (69%) feel prepared for a meat shortage because they feel confident and accepting of adjusting their diet to be more vegetarian and/or pescatarian, they already have a freezer stocked with meat, or they don’t eat much meat on a regular basis anyway. Consumers have already navigated a toilet paper shortage, face masks, and social distancing during this pandemic and the study found they are desensitized to the stressor of having a meat shortage.

As one CLE states: “My family has been eating less meat lately anyway…I'm perfectly happy eating plant-based proteins. I've wanted to experiment with a more vegetarian/vegan diet for a while and now would be a good time to do so.”

Each week InsightsNow's Clean Label Enthusiast® community of primary shoppers reveals motivations for purchasing behaviors through an online shopping journal. Data is collected each Friday – Monday and released Wednesdays. The study gives insights into the swiftly changing landscape of clean-living behaviors during this time by tracking behavior pre-pandemic, current short-term shifts, and potential permanent changes.

Each week, new study information will be added to the InsightsNow COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior.

To learn more about the study and enquire about upcoming research topics, reach out to InsightsNow at info@insightsnow.com. 

InsightsNow Ongoing COVID-19 Report Release- April 2020

InsightsNow releases ongoing study of change in clean living behavior in response to COVID-19 

Research examines behaviors of Clean Label Enthusiasts® during the pandemic by looking at previous, current and future mindsets, trade-offs, and motivators 

23 April 2020 – Chicago, IL – InsightsNow, a behavioral research firm, has announced an ongoing study with their proprietary Clean Label Enthusiasts® consumer research community, “COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior.” The study provides insights into the swiftly changing landscape of clean living behaviors during the novel Coronavirus pandemic by tracking behavior pre-pandemic, current short-term shifts, and potential permanent changes. Insightsnow's Clean Label Enthusiast® (CLE) community of primary shoppers, identified to be driving the clean label movement, provided responses to give lead indicators into changing behaviors now—and those anticipated in the future.  

By leveraging our existing community of trendsetters, we are able to find answers quickly during a time when brands must pivot quickly,” said Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer of InsightsNow. “One of the key aspects of this study is how we are able to look deeply at a leading set of primary shoppers and evaluate their behavior over time, including pre-pandemic. We are also discovering how the current health situation is putting increased momentum behind the overall clean label movement.” 

Results show a timeline of behavioral changes in response to COVID-19.    

  • Starting the week of March 9 in the U.S., the CLE community started making changes to their diets due to the novel Coronavirus. 36% of CLE were already making changes in vitamins and supplements (65%), and diet and lifestyle (48%). 
  • During the last week of March, the study began to track consumer emotions regarding shopping for grocery and household items with 45% reporting frustration and worry, with satisfaction levels decreased to only 12%. By the third week of April emotions were improving with only 25% reporting frustration, and satisfaction up to 33%.  
  • Higher purchase rates during the first week of April occurred in some categories, 15% buying more eggs than pre-pandemic, and 13% buying more bread products and salty snack items.  
  • During the second week of AprilCLE reported their day-to-day behaviors continuing to evolve22% utilized at home delivery of groceries most often, up from 9pre-pandemic. There were increases in purchasing of comfort foods like desserts and sweets. 
  • By the third week of April emotions were improving with only 25% reporting frustration, and satisfaction up to 33%. The percent increase in online ordering is starting to level off with 26% shopping for groceries online most often.  

Behavioral data for this ongoing report is being collected from the company’s proprietary research community of Clean Label Enthusiast® (CLE)—primary shoppers with a specific set of behaviors around the clean living movement that influence their buying decisions. Some of these behaviors include inspection of front and back product labels, ingredient beliefs about clean products, and advocating for the food industry.  This ongoing study includes 500 members of the U.S. based community, with insights gathered through qualitative engagements and quantitative surveys. 

To view ongoing updates to the study, users can gain access here: https://lphs.insightsnow.com/subscribe-cle-behavior-virus

 

COVID-19: InsightsNow Update Page

Webinar 42: Beauty & the COVID Beast

New priorities for beauty routines and products Presentation Date:   Thursday, Sept.  17     2 pm ET, (11 am PT) Presenters: Jaclyn LaPoma and Kimberley Greenwood, Sr. Research Directors Register Here COVID-19 has affected all parts of our lives, including beauty routines.  Recently, we looked at how consumers’ beauty routines have changed due to the pandemic. …

In-Person Consumer Research During COVID-19

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow  As we continue to recover and work through pandemic-related changes to consumer research, we have seen a steady increase in the number of research requests—both quantitative and qualitative—where in-person executions are preferred or necessary due to stimulus/product handling requirements.  Finding ways to balance consumer safety while maintaining high quality in-person research has been a priority for InsightsNow and our clients. By continually monitoring news, local and …

Webinar 41: What’s for lunch? Innovation ideas for at home or at school meals

Priorities and behavior adaptations with return to school Presentation Date:   Thursday, Sept.  10     2 pm ET, (11 am PT) Presenters:  Sarah Kirkmeyer, Sr. Director Client Partnerships and Ann Bracken, Sr. Director Business Development, InsightsNow Inc. Register Here Going back to school this year is dramatically different for so many families in the US.  With all of the …

Consumer Trust and the Future of The Restaurant Industry

By Greg Stucky, Chief Research Officer, InsightsNow  While many industries have been hit hard by the fallout from COVID-19, the restaurant industry reached an estimated $145 billion in losses during the first four months of the pandemic. While recent months have seen a slight uptick in restaurant business as stay-at-home orders relax and restrictions are lifted across the nation, the long-term negative impact of …

Webinar 40: Borrowing Playbooks; Developing New Methods for Disruptive Marketing

Learn how blending quantitative techniques into qualitative research helps identify opportunities to disrupt consumers through messaging and positioning. Presentation Date:   Thursday, August 20       2 pm ET, (11 am PT) Presenters:  Kayte Hamilton, Client Partner Director and Charles Rodriguez, Sr. Research Director, InsightsNow Inc.  Register Here Disrupting consumers is the hallmark of innovation. We discuss …

Webinar 39: Restaurant & Fast Food Behaviors – CLE make Sustainability Trade-offs during COVID.

Presentation Date:   Thursday, August 13,  2 pm ET, (11 am PT) Presenters:  Greg Stucky,  Chief Research Officer, and Julie Quante, Research Director Register Here Most Clean Label Enthusiasts have strong values regarding sustainability and earth friendly practices. Yet they are facing a difficult dilemma when they want to eat out. “Do I prioritize my passion …

Mar. 25, 2020

InsightsNow offers online qualitative services and access to custom communities to insights professionals to continue projects.

Learn more HERE.

March 13, 2020

The novel coronavirus is one of the most disruptive forces we have seen in the world recently. In the face of this rapidly changing environment and current emergency situation, we know that now, more than ever, there is a need to be agile and innovative on all fronts. Our thoughts are with those directly and indirectly being affected by COVID-19, and we hope for a quick decline and resolution to this crisis.

InsightsNow Operations
InsightsNow’s team is highly flexible and accustomed to working remotely. And not only are our researchers, project managers, operations staff and everyone else able to keep your projects moving forward virtually, our innovative research approaches themselves lend themselves to a virtual world. Workflows are anticipated to continue without interruption, and we will continue to support you to both start, maintain, field and complete projects.

Grounded, For Now 
It is so fortunate that we live in a virtual world and can work remotely to keep everyone healthy and safe.  We are set up to run virtual research projects, have meetings by video conference, and utilize other technologies while grounded by this pandemic.  While our staff is not traveling at this time and following local, regional and global health advice and directives, let us know what you might need from a virtual standpoint. We can help set you up or jump on a video call – whatever helps most during this time.

Monitoring the Situation 
It’s a time of uncertainty and enormous shifts in the marketplace and workplace. We are working hard to keep our finger on the pulse of our market research industry and the various industries we serve. As things evolve, we can help you map out timing, project plans, and other variables that may be affected by the current situation.

This page will be updated regarding the current situation here at InsightsNow, but for global breaking news on the pandemic itself, we encourage you to visit the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen and the Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html.

Need some support navigating our new reality, and keeping your projects going virtually? Reach out to us.

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