Coronavirus and the implications for market research

At the time of writing this blog (Friday morning, 13th March) the UK government remains in the “delay” phase where the official advice is to stay at home if displaying any symptoms, and to self-isolate for 7 days from when symptoms started. Home working, regular hand washing and keeping 2 metres apart is also recommended.

Mustard is following this advice. We have been fully set-up for flexible home working for several years now. There’s more hand sanitiser about, and greater discussion about what the postponement of football matches means for the Mustard Fantasy Premier League team selections, but apart from that we are still operating as “business as usual”.

So far this week, we have switched course with one client – rather than running in-person focus groups we are delivering a 2-week online community for the same cost. Our modus operandi has always been to plan ahead, manage risks, and to find tech-led solutions where there is benefit (in terms of insight capture or dissemination).

We still have face-to-face meetings booked in, and are happy to travel. But don’t be offended if one of our team isn’t keen to shake hands. Equally, an ever-increasing number of briefing and debriefing meetings now happen via Skype and other video-conferencing services. Moreover, we can screen record our debriefs within PowerPoint so our clients have a permanent record of the presentation, even if any team members are ill, self-isolating, or otherwise engaged.

We are delivering more online qualitative research than ever before.

  • Between 2016 and 2019 the number of pop-up communities conducted by Mustard increased by 200%.
  • In 2019, around a quarter of our revenue came from projects that included an online community as part of the methodology.
  • In a typical 2-4 week online community with 50-100 participants, we can expect to receive:
    • Up to 2000 individual responses / comments
    • 200+ hours of total consultation time
    • High quality as well as high quantity of insight – considered responses using many of the same probing and projective techniques you would expect to find in a typical Mustard focus group

Not only is online qualitative research flourishing, we have heard this week from some of our online quantitative panel partners (who deliver sample for online surveys) that response rates and engagement levels are up, as more people are spending more time online. People are spending time doing surveys, rather than going to the mass-attended events, it seems.

From our perspective, we’re very much keeping calm and carrying on, whilst being mindful of the fact that other sectors have worrying times ahead and global economies will undoubtedly be impacted.

The news and advice in relation to coronavirus keeps changing of course, and this blog post will not necessarily be updated to reflect that. Please give the team a call or send us an email to for any clarification.