4 Key Takeaways About COVID-19’s Effect on Market Research Data Collection

Coronavirus has had a dramatic effect on market research activity worldwide, both in terms of extent and how data is being collected. Yet some of those effects may surprise you. 

To better understand the challenges that the market research industry is facing, Dooblo gathered insights from 1,657 market research professionals in 138 different countries.  Respondents worked in organizations that conducted anywhere from several hundred to tens of millions of surveys annually. The companies were primarily commercial market research firms, but also included government agencies, academia, fieldwork services firms and nonprofits. They served a wide range of industries, including government, automotive, retail, financial services and healthcare. 

The resulting report, The Global COVID-19 Effect on Market Research Data Collection,” provides an honest overview of how the industry is coping with the pandemic and what professionals project for the future.  


What can be learned from this study? Here are 4 insights to consider. 

Takeaway #1: Although market research activity has dropped significantly, growth can be achieved.

These are decidedly tough times for the market research industry. More than four-fifths of respondents reported that market research activity has decreased, and 16% reported a decrease of activity of between 80–100%. This was primarily due to less demand for new projects because of reduced market research budgets.

Yet some firms have managed to see growth during these difficult times. In fact, 8% of respondents reported a rise in activity as a result of the pandemic and recurring projects that require more frequent data in the current environment. 

Takeaway #2: Market research activity varies by location and industry.

Chances are that if your market research firm is located in North America, it will be faring better than firms in Africa. Research found that 34% of respondents in North America reported that their activity remained the same or increased, compared to Africa, where that number was only 13%.

Similarly, the effect of the pandemic varied by industry. The survey found that the lowest rate of decrease was 67% in companies that perform market research in the IT and telecom sector. The retail industry, however, which suffered huge losses because of the pandemic, reported the highest rate of decrease at 96%.

Takeaway #3: Data collection methods are changing, but those changes might be temporary. 

Because of COVID-19, about 75% of market research professionals have made changes to their data collection methods, but 66% found these changes to be challenging. For example, many firms were forced to increase CAPI and CATI methods when face-to-face interviews became impossible because of social distancing and shutdowns. 

However, shifting to online and telephone data collection requires new infrastructure that is often lacking in smaller companies, such as engagement with panel companies, call center operations and others to provide access to remote respondents. For these reasons, it’s unclear whether these changes to market research collection will remain after COVID-19. 

Takeaway #4: The vast majority of market research professionals expect that the situation will improve.

Times are tough, but market research professionals do see a light at the end of the tunnel. Three-quarters of respondents predicted that after COVID-19, their market research activity would either remain at the same level or increase. In addition, over one-third believed that they would return to normal activity between four to eight months. 

Want to learn more about how COVID-19 has affected the global market research industry? Download your free copy of “The Global COVID-19 Effect on Market Research Data Collection” here.