Companies Are Doing Face-To-Face Market Research During COVID-19. Here’s How.

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of billions of people and left governments and businesses struggling to adapt to a new reality. In the market research community, social distancing, government restrictions and health considerations—both for interviewers and respondents—have taken a toll on surveys that are conducted face-to-face and consequently on the quality of the collected data.


This significant change in data collection methods has had severe implications for multiple aspects of the research chain. Firms that rely solely on face-to-face methods have gone through challenging times. Such firms must either find ways to safely roll out face-to-face interviews, wait until the situation changes or shift to a mixed-mode collection that also involves remote methods such as online surveys (CAWI) and telephone surveys (CATI) .


Nevertheless, market research customers are quickly learning that there is no true replacement for face-to-face interaction. Unlike online and phone interviews where respondent’s engagement is a key challenge, CAPI allows in-depth interviews with a meaningful LOI ( Length of Interview), capturing non-verbal cues such as body language, motions and behaviors. It also allows the interviewer to clarify answers with follow-up questions and receive analysis of results in real time. In many regions on the globe, where internet penetration and even telpehpony penetration are low, only CAPI will provide access to a true representative sample. Bottom line is clear, CAPI provides higher quality of data. While COVID has forced companies to look for interim alternatives, there is a strong demand for the quality and high respondent engagement that comes with CAPI .


In fact, a recent Dooblo survey of more than 1,600 market researchers professionals from 138 countries provided insights into steps that were taken to encourage CAPI survey responses, including the use of masks and gloves in the field. Eighty percent of respondents said that they would implement such best practices to ensure safety, which is expected to increase the use of CAPI data collection.



Clearly, many firms are insisting on face-to-face data collection, despite the difficulties caused by coronavirus. How are they accomplishing this? Here are three examples.


1. Preparing for Face-to-Face Data Collection

Because of the value of research based on

CAPI collected data, organizations such as the UK’s Market Research Society have provided industry guidelines for undertaking face-to-face data collection safely.

According to MRS, since research is a business activity, rather than a social activity, market researchers may continue with face-to-face data collection except in locations that are closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. In particular, MRS advises market researchers to prepare for face-to-face interviews by:

  • Asking questions to screen participants for any signs of COVID-19
  • Taking extra precautions with materials and tools used
  • Avoiding people who look visibly unwell
  • Washing hands regularly with soap and hot water or use sanitizer gel


2. Conducting Face-to-Face Data Collection

MRS also offers valuable advice for how to proceed with face-to-face interviews safely. Some of their tips include:

Following social distancing rules

  • Carrying tissues and wipes and disposing of any that are used
  • Avoiding physical contact such as shaking hands
  • Avoiding touching nose, mouth or eyes


3. New Technology

At the same time that market researchers are implementing safety measures, new technology is helping data collection as well. For example, surveyors are experimenting with virtual data collection using Zoom and WhatsApp video. In addition, surveyors are using QR codes in their surveys, rather than touching screens, to quickly capture data.


The Future of CAPI
There is a light at the end of the tunnel: With the help of new vaccines, the world is expected to gain control over the pandemic in the future. According to Dooblo’s survey, about half of respondents expect that at that time, CAPI will either return to pre-pandemic levels or increase. Undoubtedly, this is because of the many advantages that face-to-face market research has over other methods.
Want to learn more about how you can implement superior face-to-face data collection safely? Get in touch with our experts today.