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Utilizing Communities + Panels in Uncertain Times

Alex Knepler, Community Health Manager, Communities and Panels

While the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not over, the widespread rollout of the vaccine has brought about an easing of local and state restrictions, and a gradual return to some semblance of what society looked like before March 2020. As such, consumer behavior continues to adapt, and hopefully stabilize. For some, this will mean a return to pre-COVID shopping habits while for others – a hybrid of pre-and post-COVID behaviors, which could be a mix of shopping in-store for one trip, shopping online the next time, and using a fulfillment service like curbside pick-up for another.

Online CommunitiesDuring the pandemic, in-person research was halted, causing clients to consider canceling important research projects. At C+R Research, we were able to help our clients continue their research – by adapting our traditional methodologies online. And our online communities and panels offerings were one such methodology that was used even more to provide clients with a unique opportunity to continue following consumers during their journey to “normal” however different or similar the “new normal” may look for them. 

And as pioneers of these online research hubs – building, perfecting, and maintaining them - we understand the complexity of them as well as the many benefits they provide to our clients. Besides allowing clients the opportunity to instantly connect with consumers to understand changes in behaviors and perceptions, they also provide reassurance to community and panel members during those periods of unease through participation in discussion sessions (both formal and informal) in a familiar, trusted, virtual environment. 

Here are some of the key benefits of Communities and Panels, making them a great cost-effective approach to research in general, but even more so during periods of uncertainty:

  • Trust from our community members + panelists – During the pandemic and beyond, the trust and familiarity provided by their role in communities and panels, as well as the camaraderie with fellow members, cannot be overstated. We provide a platform to stay connected – even when everything else is disconnected – where members can share their thoughts and start their own topics with both moderators and each other in real time.
  • AdaptabilityAs our methodologies adapt, so do our communications with members – assuring them that we are there for them in good and not so good times, that we welcome their continued participation, but also understand if their availability changes in the short-term. Their community or panel will be there for them as they need. 
  • Pre-recruited sample, available 24/7 – For existing communities and panels, our dedicated panel members are readily available – and we can easily stay in touch and communicate with members regarding new studies as client needs pivot and evolve, particularly when it comes to urgently needed results. Additionally, for even further insight opportunities, we have the capability to quickly set up shorter-term, pop-up, or agile communities dedicated to specific subjects.
  • Tracking + analysis of behavioral changes – Communities and panels offer a unique opportunity for longitudinal learnings from the same people, over time - whether it be over a period of weeks, months, or even years.

Our communities and panels allow us to almost instantly capture and study adaptations in purchase behaviors from typical routines or unexpected situations, as well as track how behaviors may continue to change over the coming days and weeks.

We can uniquely capture and track consumer purchase changes over time, through brief engagement surveys, or longer deep dive studies, which can include a wide range of methodologies such as journaling, video blogs, online shop-a-longs, webcam IDIs, in-depth surveys, and more.

Commitment to our Clients, Community + Panel Members

At C+R, we are deeply committed to serving the needs of both our clients and our valued community/panel members – ensuring thoughtful, helpful client insights, as well as stability and a communal platform for members as all of us work through these current challenges together. 
 

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