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The Everlasting Value of In-person Marketing Research

Online and interactive marketing research methods are all the rage today.  And why not?  They provide research solutions more quickly and efficiently than traditional methods. 

And with social media platforms, the ability to gain ongoing “trickle” insights and early-warning signals of customer concerns have never been easier (or cheaper). 

Still, there are times when getting answers to questions are best served via traditional “eyeball-to-eyeball” research.

Simply put, no amount of cyber bandwidth can replace certain qualitative insights that emerge when a researcher meets face-to-face with respondents and skillfully elicits their feedback.  Consider these aspects:

Detecting nonverbal cues – Body language that are not apparent online or over the phone can provide a more nuanced understanding of participants’ responses. 

Show and tell – While web-assisted interviews allow ?for flexibility in how and when research props are shown, sometimes that’s insufficient – like when showing ?several items simultaneously or displaying large engineering drawings.

Quality control factors – Without in-person interviews, you can’t know that respondents are fully engaged, aren’t “multitasking” or otherwise distracted, or being coached by another individual.  Webcams can provide only a partial fix in terms of policing.

It always makes sense to weigh in-person methodologies against technology-based research.  Most of the time you’ll conclude that online is the most practical method … but sometimes in-person will be the best one to employ.


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