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Longitudinal Studies Track a Changing World

As the world moves through the next stage of a global pandemic and potentially comes out of it, the one constant we will all face is continued change. Given the seismic shifts in people’s lives, it’s no surprise the near-term focus is figuring out how we want to live, how we feel, and how to react to these new factors. From The Great Resignation to shifts in behavior over the last year, it’s clear consumers are not necessarily going back to their pre-pandemic way of life.

While a chaotic time for brands, as market researchers we see opportunity to not only defend market share but steal it. These changes are not one and done. We believe this shift in conditions is going to continue over time. For brands, it’s the perfect moment to think about conducting longitudinal studies with current and prospective customers to ensure your brand, products, and services can adapt. Simply tracking awareness or behavior will no longer suffice.

Brands that want to understand audiences will have to keep an eye on:

  • What consumers are doing and the tradeoffs they are making
  • How consumers feel not only about brands, but categories and their own needs
  • What new products and brands consumers are considering or using
  • What new behavioral hacks consumers are engaging to get what they want and need
  • Behaviors left behind post-pandemic
  • Value shifts and the stories behind those shifts

Traditionally, much of this type of research has been implemented through quantitative tracking studies or quick hit panels that ask a few questions. While these tools are valuable and effective, they don’t always tell the whole story.

At W5, we work with clients to dig deeper and understand how people are (or aren’t) changing attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviors, and aspirations over time through a variety of approaches that wrap consumer stories with examinations of rational behavior.

We’ve been accomplishing these longitudinal studies in a number of ways:

  • Ad Hoc Communities: A collection of target consumers who can share their thoughts and behaviors via multiple qualitative methods provide both direct stories and more self-directed ethnographic diaries
  • Qualitative Tracking: An understanding of consumer sentiment through ongoing qualitative studies (i.e., focus groups, IDIs, asynchronous conversations, mobile ethnography, etc.) that gauges change in sentiment and behavior over time and in reaction to changing market conditions
  • Quantitative Tracking: Traditional, survey-based quantitative tracking to determine how awareness, affinity, and behavior are trending over time
  • Segmentation Refreshment: An opportunity to revisit existing segmentations to determine if underlying behaviors and attitudes are still applicable―updating or re-examining segmentations after periods of extreme change can highlight future direction and market forces

We believe the key is understanding how a client’s objectives and business needs are evolving as we design a custom approach. There is no one-size-fits-all and W5 takes the time to match approaches and tools with insights needs.

Want to learn more about conducting your own longitudinal study to track changing behaviors?
Book a call to continue the conversation.

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