Classrooms paving the way to recovery
At the end of August, students in the UAE will wake up early, grab the lunch mom packed the night before and head to school excited to see reunite with their friends…like they have been doing every August. Only it won’t be the same.
While it comes a huge relief to students and parents that the school year will be less reliant on online learning and homeschooling, this school year will pose challenges. In the lead up to back to school, parents received numerous surveys so that the schools and their staff can work closely with the authorities and their operations team to ensure this back to school is safer than ever. What are the measures schools are taking and how does the community feel about it?
Some schools are giving parents the option to continue online learning if they feel it is still high risk. However, most parents are preferring the classroom option. Other schools will have students coming in on alternative week in groups – much like some private companies have been doing. To further maintain social distancing, most schools have closed the cafeteria and students will not be moving from class to class as this created crowded halls.
Parents and teachers are confident in their approach after having spent months looking at options. At the core of all the surveys (and the subsequent decisions as a result of these surveys) is continuity and the children’s best interest.We all agree that having children socialize and not obstructing their routine is vital for their growth. Hence, another year of home schooling did not seem feasible, especially when most of the parents are starting to go back to work.
The surveys and decisions for back to school teach us a lot about market research if we take a closer look at this niche market. For starters, the surveys were addressed to the parents and were mostly comprised of a series of multiple-choice questions, leading questions and close-ended questions. This is a very efficient way of data collection. The results of the survey can be stored and analyzed in a short time frame, giving the schools plenty of time to implement and adjust logistics to match the findings.
A more comprehensive survey, time permitting, would have tested sentiment, addressed all fears and challenges in the upcoming school year and included the children in a separate survey sample. Let us break these down:
Testing Sentiment and addressing challenges Schools are a community. Communities, especially those that serve children, consider sentiment and psychological impact on the community much more than the transaction corporate world does. By default, the approach to market research and how surveys are conducted in this community will differ slightly.
Include the children in the process The age old marketing challenge: do you target the decision maker (parents), end-user (children) or both in your campaigns? The answer varies from industry to industry and country to country. Strictly speaking, advertising to children is frowned upon and whether or not they should be included in focus groups and research is always up for debate. One can hope that parents did take their children’s input when completing the survey. Indeed, if the child himself fears going back to school, how will that impact focus? Alternatively, and most probably, if children are eager to reunite and socialize after months of isolation, how do you enforce social distancing when children are still developing their social and disciplinary skills?
When all is said and done, the country and global economy is ready to return to a sense of normalcy. There is hesitation and excitement and a lot of relief that we made it through the shock wave of the spring and spent the summer recovering. We are now all looking in anticipation at the fall that will be an indicator of how fast businesses and economies can recover.
The back to school season will indeed be a litmus test for many suppliers. Will stationary purchases go up amid the single-use rules many places are implementing? Will arts and crafts and group discussions be limited to a digital platform to minimize sharing stationary and adhere to social distancing. Will after school activities and those stakeholders see an increase in cost to comply with regulations or a decrease in enrollment?
Many of these questions are being answered and providing other stakeholders and businesses with much-needed optimism. To get your answers and help make sound business decisions as we bounce back from the pandemic, commission your own market research for your specific products and industry with Feedback Market Research.