State of The Union For Qualitative, In-Person Market Research

I-View Studios London focus group room

*Picture courtesy of i-view London

What’s Happening With In-Person Research

Earlier this year we spoke with leaders in market research about the prospects for in-person research in 2021. (Those podcasts are listed below.) A few months later, we asked them to give us an update. What are they seeing today? What’s changed?

Bob Qureshi, i-view Studios, London

While other methods have their plus points, nothing beats interacting on a human level. It is this interaction between people and the exercises that can be used in a face to face setting that everyone we have been talking to is excited by. Undoubtedly, face-to-face also provides a much more in-depth reaction to stimulus whether that is physically handling stimulus or just being in the shared space to experience reactions.

Clients specifically miss the organic, behind-the-mirror conversations that are triggered  by the viewing experience.  Those are more organic and immediate than when viewing remotely irrespective of any technical wizardry designed to help.

(read more about how UK facilities are teaming up to get back to work.)

Sarah Kotva, Fieldwork

In person research is happening.  A wide range of methodologies are successfully being executed throughout the globe. #FacetoFaceMRX was launched by a cooperative group of data collection firms to bring awareness and real time information to our most trusted clients.  All research agencies continue to maintain strict protocols for all staff, respondents, and clients that visit our office. Our teams continue to evaluate and assess best practice. As more information is released and vaccinations rates increase, we are experiencing an increased interest in and planning for in-person research, from IDI’s to focus groups, taste tests to usability research. Respondent engagement and participation continues to be strong. 

While walking into a facility today looks different, the quality recruiting, strong client service, and strict protocols are at the same standards that our clients have come to expect are better than ever.  In-person qual is happening successfully and we’re adapting as needed to meet the needs of every research project committed to customizing each experience for our clients.

Brett Watkins, L & E Research

Our facilities have seen a slow increase in usage.  Clients in certain industries that either need in-person (think the three senses you can’t replicate online), or prefer smaller participant research (e.g. 1-1’s, common in pharmaceutical research), are seeing increased activity.  Those willing to explore remote moderation, as we can offer via our virtual facility solution where participants meet in groups but moderators facilitate remotely, are also seeing increased activity.

In the next 90 days, as corporate travel restrictions begin to fade (July is the “magic” month we’re currently hearing, as legal departments allow non-essential travel begin again), we’re anticipating another significant uptick, similar to what we are seeing in the airline industry.  NYC is a great example here, as the lifting of restrictions locally mirrors the in-person industry.  As the pandemic restrictions and societal vaccination rates increase, so does client confidence to get back out there.  Bid activity for in-person is definitely on the rise.  

We’re excited about the activity we’re seeing, and the new streaming solutions we’ll be introducing about the same time.  It’s great to be coming back into the light!

Audible Insights Podcast Episodes:

When Sarah Kotva and friends started their #facetofaceMRX effort, we at Audible Insights knew we had to help out. It’s not often that competitors come together for the good of the industry, but that’s exactly what happened with Fieldwork, Aspen Finn (part of 20|20 Research and Schlesinger Group), L&E Research, and others.


Audible Insights Podcast - Sarah Kotva, FieldworkSarah Kotva, Executive Vice President at Fieldwork. To say 2020 has been a challenging year for the focus group business would be a massive understatement. But challenges like this can bring resiliency and adaptation in response, and Sarah and I discuss how Fieldwork has risen to meet the challenges of the pandemic and how they are preparing to safely return to in-person qualitative research.



Brett Watkins, president of L&E Research. This conversation wraps our series, discussing face-to-face market research, or #FaceToFaceMRX. Brett and I discuss how his company weathered 2020, and Brett’s outlook for 2021. As a veteran of the market research industry, and someone deeply involved with in-person research, Brett has a unique perspective on what’s coming next and how best to prepare for, and capitalize, on it.



Julia Eisenberg, Senior Vice President at Aspen Finn strategy and insight. Julia and I discuss their new rebrand, and by new, I mean brand new (no pun intended) as they just launched the Aspen Finn brand this past week as the strategy and research consulting arm of 20/20 Research. That being the case, the timing was perfect to hear Julia expound upon their rebranding, messaging and repositioning process.