So what research methods work best?

Date: 28/05/2014 Written by: Rosie 3 minutes to read.
Research focus: What research methods work best in behaviour change?

This is the question our clients often ask. We are passionate about finding key insights that lead to a change. In our experience no one method works on its own and a mixed methodology often works best. To help you decide what methods will gather the crucial insights you need we have compiled a list of different research methods we use on client projects.


Co-creation involves a group of individuals working together on ideas surrounding a new product, services, campaign etc. This can be used as a team exercise to generate different ideas and see what works best. If a company wants to launch a new brand, they could hold one or a couple of co-creation sessions, which may involve members of the public and customers. Over time, ideas are evaluated and enhanced.

Exit survey

An exit survey is a survey that is completed by an individual that leaves a group, an employer, or any establishment. These surveys are used to explore the reasons surrounding why the individual left and what could have been done to avoid the occurrence. The feedback is also used to boost productivity as well as innovation and creativity, alongside avoiding high staff turn overs and the cost that comes with it.

Depth interviews

Also referred to as in-depth or one-to-one interviews, these interviews tend to be carried out in a field setting, rather than a controlled research environment – this will allow the participant to feel as comfortable as possible to freely express opinions, thoughts, and beliefs.

Mystery shopping

Mystery shoppers are used to give feedback on their experience shopping in a store, client companies who would like to gain this feedback uses a company providing mystery shoppers. Mystery shoppers are used to examine the customer service of stores, which in turn is used by employers to improve customer service skills and therefore make the overall experience for customers better than what it was.

Postal surveys

Postal surveys are self-completed surveys that are sent to the participant’s address or given to the participant to complete at home and send back to the researchers.

Online surveys

Online surveys are surveys that can be completed online through using the provided link to be directed to the survey. Online surveys are a fast and convenient way of carrying out research as researchers have access to data immediately and don’t have to spend time inputting data.


There are two different methods to observe participants; overtly and covertly. An overt observation is an observation where participants are aware that they are being observed. On the contrary, a covert observation is the opposite – participants are unaware that they are being observed.

Online discussion

Online discussions are essentially forums where different individuals are able to interact with each other and discuss different topics. Consider this the virtual version of a focus group.

Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are carried out by calling the participant and carrying out the interview over the phone. Telephone interviews are a good way of interviewing people that are distant from the researcher. Telephone interviews are largely used in job applications.

Face-to-face interviews

These interviews are carried out between the researcher and the participant. The participant will be asked questions regarding a specific subject that the researcher has created a discussion guide around. Face-to-face interviews generate rich in-depth information surrounding the topic at hand; this method is particularly useful when discussing a sensitive topic.

To find out more about these research methods or to discuss in more detail how we can help you with your social research brief please contact our research team.

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