According to MRF, the MRF board has put processes in place to ensure the continuity, which has been built over the past few months, continues. "There is no disputing that our world is rapidly changing at a level we've never seen before," says Koster.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that came into effect has brought with it great concern and uncertainty," adds Koster. 

According to MRF, the pilot fieldwork on MAPS began in December 2019 and was completed successfully by mid-February 2020.

After commencing the actual fieldwork in March 2020, it became clear that COVID-19 would make it impossible to continue with face-to-face interviewing, halting the process.

"The MRF and its technical committee, supported by Plus 94 Research, are currently evaluating contingency plans and alternative solutions that will allow us to continue data collection during lockdown and the anticipated subsequent period of restricted mobility and social interaction," says Koster. "The discussions are being guided by governmental regulations, without jeopardising research quality and data integrity."

"Research has always been there to help our customers deal with uncertainty," says Sifiso Falala, CEO of PLUS 94 Research. "COVID-19 has exponentially increased uncertainties faced by businesses and made any long term planning appear at best speculative."

"Consumers are being jump-started into making quick decisions, and for some, even into reviewing their value system. For this reason, a comprehensive tracking survey such as MAPS is more essential than ever before," adds Falala. 

"Unlike in past years when methodology — if chosen correctly, was pretty much background noise — we are seeing an evolution of the importance of methodological adaptation. The discussion of methods used to gather the data will be in the foreground and as exciting as the expected insights themselves," Falala says.

According to MRF, with the country currently in Level 4 of lockdown, the industry is going to be in a restricted environment for some time to come. The orgainisation says that many businesses — now more than ever — require sound research and consumer insights to guide their decision making.

"At the MRF, we believe that the need for MAPS is more critical than ever and we're working tirelessly with our partners and members to make MAPS a reality. The industry will be kept appraised of any updates as we progress through these uncertain times," concludes Koster.

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