Editor’s note: Ron Sellers is president, Grey Matter Research, Phoenix.

I just received a question from a client: “What are your thoughts on whether conducting brand perceptions research is a good or bad idea at this time?”

No kids in school. No sports. No going to the dentist, church, the office… or pretty much anywhere for most of us. Life seems on hold at the moment due to COVID-19. Should market research be any different? Is it better to move ahead with studies, or postpone them?

We need to view this from three different angles:

Obviously some methodologies are out the window at the moment – in-person focus groups and in-store intercepts just won’t be happening. But so much research is done at a distance anyway, from online qualitative to phone surveys and online panel research. Are people responding? 

Absolutely. With more people home (either working or furloughed), response rates are actually up. There’s really no problem getting respondents. Consider the following comments:

Because phone is random probability sampling and response rates are holding steady or better during the crisis, respondent quality should be no different than it was four months ago. Same with qualitative recruiting – good recruiters are able to weed out poor quality respondents today just as they could before we even knew what an N95 mask was. But what about online panel?

Panel respondent quality was an issue even before the pandemic. Grey Matter Research is about to release the report Still More Dirty Little Secrets of Online Panels that details the many problems with panel respondent quality. It stands to reason that if panelists were blowing through as many surveys as they can for the incentives, cheating in order to qualify for studies, employing survey bots to rake in multiple incentive payments and/or failing to pay attention to questions before the pandemic, these behaviors could be even wor...