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5 reasons asynchronous online qual is better than live online focus groups

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is Founder of Feeling Mutual, the agile online and mobile qualitative research specialists. He helps clients and agencies run global studies and offers training in the space. Tom has been a Digital Skills trainer for the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) and is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the MRS, MRMW and IleX.

Increasingly, clients and agencies are questioning whether they should be travelling to attend qualitative research studies, not just due to the financial and environmental costs of travel, but also because of the rising number of coronavirus cases (which may affect participants’ willingness to attend too). Too often 'live', 60-90 minute, online focus groups that are in ‘real-time’ are put forward as a good enough substitute for face-to-face research. However, there’s a number of reasons why online qualitative is better when it is asynchronous, rather than in real-time (i.e. when you set questions across a few days).

Asynchronous online qual is a better substitute for face-to-face research than real-time online focus groups because it gives you:

  1. Greater depth: Asynchronous online qual inspires more considered answers, given at the participants’ convenience each day, rather than the rushed, short responses you get in live chat research.
  2. Richer colour: You can ask people to share pictures and videos of their lives more easily when research is across a few days, which paints a more vivid picture of who they are.
  3. More complete participation: If people fail to attend or engage fully, you have a bigger window of opportunity to replace them and hit the full quota, if it runs across a few days.
  4. More agility: You can analyse as you moderate and share observations to enable closer collaboration with the agency; this is ideal for iterative, innovation projects.
  5. Stronger validity: In real-time online qual, people are influenced by seeing others’ comments before they answer. Asynchronous studies enable private responses.

Unless you have to get feedback within 24 hours, I would always suggest asynchronous over real-time online qual.

Feeling Mutual and Liveminds have collaborated on many successful asynchronous global online qual research studies for brands like EasyJet, Sony, The Box Plus Network and Virgin Airlines. We use our trusted network of senior moderators from across the world, powered by the industry’s leading online and mobile research technologies.

If you’re an agency (whether that be research, digital or advertising) or a client-side researcher, please get in touch with tom@feelingmutual.com if you’d like to find out how asynchronous online and mobile qual can help you to complete your face-to-face research projects.

As an independent consultant, I often use Behavioural Recruitment for my global online qual projects. That’s because Liveminds give you a single point of contact across multiple markets. They also find people who are fresh to research through social networks and I’ve noticed that their participants engage more deeply than traditionally recruited samples (who are often overused in research).

If you’d like to find out more about how Behavioural Recruitment finds engaged participants for online research get in touch.

Download ‘A researcher’s guide to online qual’ to see how you can get valuable insight from engaged participants from the comfort of your own home.

Full disclosure: I've provided consultancy for Liveminds on many multi-market online and mobile research projects and we've jointly run online qual training sessions for the industry. I use Behavioural Recruitment out of choice on many of my own projects too. I’m always happy to recommend them for global online qual projects.

Download Researcher's guide to online qual

If you’re considering online qual research this e-book by Tom Woodnutt explains the key benefits that online qual - in particular asynchronous - will bring to your research and our best practices to help you get the most from it.

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