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Why digital online research can offer Africa advantageous insight

14 January 2020

Media Coverage:

Digital online research is taking off slowly in Africa, despite offering the continent so many evident benefits over traditional methods, says Ejaz Mirza, AVP client development of Middle East and Africa at Borderless Access.

When used correctly, digital research offers immense advantages in the quality of insights that it can provide. There are five reasons for this, including:

  • It is less intrusive and invasive than traditional methods

    Because of its nature, digital research enables a better quality of data collection. As Stacey Grant of Unilever says: "With digital methods, we are provided with the opportunity to observe and listen, rather than invade and ask."

  • It enhances accuracy

    Digital research improves accuracy by tracking the mobile footprint of respondents in real-time, rather than relying on their memories after the fact. This point is illustrated in the pilot case-study that Borderless Access conducted with Unilever on the change in cooking habits over time. According to the study, "Before using traditional methods, we would have said 'what did you prepare yesterday?"

    "As we know, that's always difficult to remember, and potentially good insights could have been excluded. In comparison, in the case-study we received responses — as well as rich imagery — very soon after the cooking occasion, some within two hours after the meal was prepared," says Claire Bekker, CMI foods and refreshments lead for Africa, Unilever.

  • It enables each respondent to partake in the research in optimal ways.

    Digital data collection recognises that we are taking time from respondents. It, therefore, maximises the efficiency of their time to ensure the best responses at the best times and from the best locations for each respondent personally.

  • It enables iterative and adaptive research

    This is due to almost real-time tracking. "The fact that it is 'always-on' is obviously helpful. This allows us to course-correct the sample in real-time. It also enables us to build our understanding iteratively and adapt our questionnaire as we engage with, and learn from, the respondents," says Grant.

  • It provides results quickly

    While it is inaccurate to assume that digital's only advantage is the speed of turnaround, this is certainly beneficial. Bekker concludes, "We need results in weeks, sometimes even days, in order to really stay ahead and win in the market place. And one way in which that is now possible is using research through digital tools."