Qzine March ’21: A Guest Post

Our stellar intern Jayda has some thoughts, so we invited her to take over this issue. We brainstormed some topics and she took it from there.

Okay so we have a vaccine…now what? What does this mean for qualitative researchers who prefer a deeper method of interaction?

While the vaccine means absolutely everything, in some respects, it can also mean absolutely nothing. We can all agree that the idea of a vaccine gives us some sense of security; we link the coronavirus vaccine to a return of normalcy. The beginning of the end of this horrible pandemic. And while the existence and deliverance of a vaccine shows us the light at the end of a very dark tunnel, what will normal look like? And when will it arrive? None of us really know.

What does that have to do with qualitative market research? Qual is all about getting to know our participants. We don’t just want to know the what…we want to get behind the WHY, understanding feelings, beliefs and behaviors.

The best way for us to do that is through face-to-face human connection. And by face to face we don’t mean mask to mask sitting six feet away from one another, communicating through a plexiglass screen. We mean sitting mask-less with participants. We mean insightful conversation, often over drinks and snacks. Right now, Covid has completely ruled that out. We’ve made do through webcams and digital connection, but with a loss of fidelity and genuine connection. But there’s a vaccine now. So, everything is back to normal, right? Unfortunately, very far from it.

Masks? Still to be worn at all times. Social distancing? Still to remain at least six feet apart. There will still be no dining with strangers. There will be no interacting with clients and participants in person. There will still be no unnecessary travel. Despite a vaccine, these guidelines will still be in place and will be for who even knows how long – as they should be!

We have a choice to make. Are we better off talking to people over a webcam where we can see their whole face, or in person with masks? The jury is out on this one. While we may be able to look at our friends mask and all, easily grasping their facial expressions and body language, take the personal relationship out of the equation. How accurately can we get a feel for the nonverbal cues of a complete stranger?

Another factor to consider: How will our respondents feel? What will they prefer in terms of methods of interaction? We cannot even be certain of their comfort level with the process. All we know for certain, is that we don’t want to abandon face to face work, but don’t know when it will return in a meaningful way.

My Picks:

Short Read: NY Times Article: Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change

This article highlights the urgency and reality of climate change. Climate issues has been something that I have been passionate about for years. I think it is really important to be educated on this topic so that we can all have a better idea of how our actions impact something much greater than ourselves.

Film: Erin Brockovich (Available to rent on Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play for $3.99)

Based on a true story, Julia Roberts plays the empowering role of Erin Brockovich who will stop at nothing to solve an environmental mystery and stand up to a player in the energy industry. I first saw this film in my Sophomore year of college in a class on environmental film. I found the story inspiring and important in regard to environmental issues and feminism.