Coronavirus Needn't Stop Your Concept Testing

Published 16 Mar 2020 2 minute read

Concept Testing

Don't let the fact that you can't sit down with your participants in-person stop your concept testing

There’s no hiding from Coronavirus any longer. The likely impact it’s going to have in the short and medium term on business and personal lives is going to be significant. However, there are things you can do to ensure that your product, service or brand development goes on despite the barriers to meeting with your target audience for research that Coronavirus is presenting.

The solution?

In short, take it online.

Focus groups are getting harder to conduct as gatherings are frowned upon and consumers seek to self-isolate, so by taking your research online you’ll get a deeper, richer view into people’s minds, what they think, feel and do.

Understandably, this shifting approach flags concerns around confidentiality and security, and begs the question, “How do I make sure that sensitive information is kept safe and secure?”.

In response to this, we’ve set out some best practice steps and top tips that are working for our clients right now, around the world...

Recruit right to keep it airtight

With sensitive concept to be tested, it’s important that your expectations of consumers around security and confidentiality is made clear, from the very first conversation your recruiters has with the intended audience (your participants).

Make sure that your recruitment partners are briefed correctly and understand the delicate nature of the work you are conducting. (Here’s some neat ways to streamline your recruitment). Get your recruiters to replay your briefing back to you to make sure they’ve fully understood the objectives.

We also suggest that, in addition to standard consent forms, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is always put in place with individual participants that govern use of data and how concepts can and cannot be used.

Dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T&C’s’

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are always a good idea to have in place, but written the right way - in plain English and with respect to the reader, rather then loaded with legalese - they keep participants in line and informed at every step.

We recommend you take advantage of our customisable Terms & Conditions (which can be found in the setup panel of your project if you are using Together™). This enables you to create another layer of consent, and an important opportunity to manage your participants' expectations around privacy. Without their consent, they won't be allowed in.


To provide your clients with added security, we suggest adding watermarks to any concepts, images or sensitive stimulus that you display on the platform.

While it is possible to prevent screenshots from being captured on some technologies, it’s impossible to stop someone taking a photograph of their screen. However, using watermarks, produced specifically for (and linked to) that study, means that any potential breaches in privacy can be directly traced back to that studies sample.

For even greater security, your sample can be split up into a number of segments that each relate to their own identifiable watermark; this makes tracking even easier, albeit through adding some extra programming time pre-launch. Once again, making the use of watermarks known to participants helps build that preventative measure.

Trust and respect

Although focus groups allow you to control the visual presentation of an idea or product, you can't stop a participant sharing what they have seen with others by word of mouth (or even sketch if they are the artistic type!).

As qual researchers, we always aim to set expectations and standards and hope to build enough trust and respect that those involved in the project will stick to their word and agreed conditions. Online testing is no different, and a key component of our way of working focuses on an creating a strong understanding and respect between participant and researcher, so that anything shared remains confidential. Bluntly, we won’t share your data, if you don’t share ours!

We hope these tips help you manage the difficult client conversations you might be having right now. If you’d like to talk to us about how to take your focus groups online then get in touch.

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