The Space Time Continuum of Market Research

When it comes to market research, there are plenty of methodologies to choose from to conduct an effective test, but in selecting the best approach for you, it is important to first consider a series of factors. For example, deciding how time and space play roles in your research can help create a more seamless and intentionally designed study.

While the concepts of “time and space” may seem a little nebulous, you can explore the fields of synchronous and asynchronous research to gain an informed understanding of how to apply these attributes and architect your tests.


Asynchronous research encompasses any research methodology where the participants are working on an individual time schedule. This style of research is typically done online and looks more like a discussion forum or a survey in which the subject can answer questions at their own convenience. This type of research is self-paced and includes a time-lag or lack of immediacy to spark the subject’s contemplation and internalization of the product/concept.

If you want your participants to take their time and think through their responses (maybe do a bit of research about the product on their own before submitting feedback), seek a degree of removal between the researchers and/or the subjects so that there is no influence from others involved, and aim to record responses over a period of time, asynchronous research is the style for you; by eliminating shared time and space, participants gain license to develop their thoughts and reactions.


Synchronous research - you guessed it - is the exact opposite. As defined in the title itself, synchronous means ‘real time’ and encompasses live research methodologies that mean the participants and facilitators interacting and working together in real time. Examples of this research style include live chat rooms, interviews and online or in-person focus groups where the researchers and the subjects work together simultaneously in order to prompt live reactions. While participants can participate from different physical spaces if the study is conducted, for instance, the immediacy of the participants' responses highlights how synchronous research puts people into a shared mental space of authentic and live communication.

If you seek active, real-time participation, want to monitor the test, and aim to gather responses affected by urgency, synchronous research is the optimal route as you can harness the power of human engagement to draw honest insight. However, it is crucial to consider how intra-subject interaction might cause peer pressure or groupthink to impact responses.


Although these research styles are used independently, times are changing and the prospect of a hybrid synchronous + asynchronous research study has come to light. We are now asking: “why not combine the two styles if it could enhance the end result?”

This is what a hybrid looks like:

Synchronous research is more capital and time intensive from the researchers’ end as it is necessary to recruit select people who will show up and do the test justice. Automated tests on the other hand can be effectively distributed to a large number of people, and if an individual doesn’t respond, few resources are wasted.

Recognizing these respective qualities, we can explore how asynchronous research could be used to screen people for the live interviews/testing of synchronous research. You can source the most dependable respondents through surveys/automated studies to secure reliable individuals for a real-time engagement.

An exciting wave of unprecedented market research growth has entered the playing field. Now, you will not only have the ability to choose which research style fits your needs, but to also potentially marry the two and benefit from the inherent efficiencies of a two-part, in depth data collection sequence. The previous constraints of time and space outlined by the dichotomy of separate research types are soon to disappear as researchers start blending the styles together. Will you test out a hybrid study? Let us know your thoughts.


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