The hybrid approach: Merging offline with online

In this day and age every company and every consumer is – and needs to be – mobile. InSites Consulting pioneered online surveys back in 1997 and we continue to innovate our methodologies in an effort to bring the consumer to life beyond the screen. As I started my marketing career offline, I was a bit skeptical about making the move to online. I couldn’t imagine how the research quality would be affected after losing that face-to-face human connection. Also, how could I leave behind the M&M’s and cheese plates at a focus group facility?
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience both worlds, I see that while the human connection can’t be met online, we have the ability to dig much deeper and gain richer insights when we are not in the consumer’s home or in a simulated living room at a focus group facility.

Here’s why going online improves the research quality

Go where no one else can

As an online qualitative agency, we are not physically going into the consumers’ homes, but we are able to go where you wouldn’t be invited if you were in their homes… like the shower! Through our Consumer Consulting Boards we engage with consumers to share these ‘behind the scenes’ moments through posts, photos or video. They are more likely to share their real behavior when you are not right in front of them.

Review, reflect

What I love the most about online is the opportunity to give consumers an activity, e.g. going to the grocery store or reading a communication and letting it soak in. It’s amazing the richness you can extract when a participant has had time to reflect on their answer or experience. In a focus group or in-home interview the respondent’s response is most likely tainted by stage fright or other consumer’s response.

24/7 access

I can’t tell you how many times I would conduct an offline interview and struggle to subtly take notes because I didn’t want to make the person feel as if they were being graded. My notes basically consisted of their name and the number of kids they had- not very helpful for report writing! While I may have been able to retain certain quotations for a few days, I would go off my memory and probably rely a little too heavily on one or two quotes. The beauty of being online is the fact that I can scour the information once, twice, thrice and have it at my fingertips whenever I want to double-check an insight. Read more on how we create an ‘always-on’ research experience.

Play for attention, not Pay

We approach all of our online Consumer Consulting Boards the same way: how are we going to empower and collaborate with consumers to feel like innovators and consultants for your brand? Through our engagements we create a level of interest that makes them want to work harder and better for you. Read more on how community members can become co-researchers.
While InSites Consulting will always be online first, there are moments when it benefits the research to physically bring the consumer to your boardroom to further develop those insights and create that human connection. We are always working with our clients to ensure all of the pieces of the puzzle are connected so your research can be used for internal and external impact.
What has been your experience with the more traditional offline methodologies and how would you like to see a more hybrid approach with online research? Feel free to post here or e-mail me.

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