Extracting market insights from the TikTok generation

The University of Warwick has partnered with Qualzy to utilise technology to gather market insights from younger student demographics

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17 Jan 2024
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Qulazy session at THE Universities Market Insight Conference
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As students engage in digital interactions across their academic journey, conducting market research in higher education has become more challenging. “Traditional approaches such as focus groups and surveys may now feel outdated, as younger generations use technology in a different way,” explained Ray Davies, client services manager at Qualzy, during a session at the 2023 THE University Market Insight Conference. Davies shared that only 56 per cent of Generation Z and millennials now use email to talk to friends and family. Many have more than 1,000 unread emails, which renders email surveys less effective for gathering feedback. 

The market research and insight team at the University of Warwick formed a partnership with Qualzy in 2022. Jess O’Brien, market research manager at the university, said the pandemic had accelerated a number of existing market trends. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a number of things. People no longer come to focus groups in person, even if incentivised. It’s a digital and mobile-first world,” she said.

Further, students receive a large number of surveys, which leads to survey fatigue and a drop in response rates, said O’Brien. The University of Warwick needed a way to deal with its “analysis paralysis”, and set the foundations for a new student panel that would provide insights into student life at the university. The team piloted Qualzy’s web-based qualitative research platform in spring 2023 and launched the university’s virtual student panel the following September.

The Warwick Student Panel is a community-based platform that invites students to participate in online focus groups and activities to share their feedback and opinions on their student experience at the university. “It almost went too well as everyone wanted to use it,” said O’Brien. As with any extensive market research, a large amount of resources were needed for the initial set-up and to plan how the findings would be used. “We realised that by taking it on ourselves we would also be upskilling our staff,” she said.

The platform has a chat area allowing students to ask questions and share feedback. The team regularly runs research activities such as polls and focus groups on the platform. Panel entries and posts earn students points, which generate prize draw entries for Amazon vouchers.

In the first academic term of 2023/24, students collectively engaged with the platform for 99.5 hours. Data generated from the platform is held in a secure database, and researchers can analyse this data using AI tools and generate insights much quicker than before. 

Looking forward, O’Brien hopes the University of Warwick can offer the platform to prospective students and add activities on topics such as student accommodation and the cost of living. The university has already recruited 145 team members for an upcoming research project called Campus 2025, which will look at how to shape the future campus experience.

The panel:

  • Ray Davies, client services manager, Qualzy
  • Paul Kingsley-Smith, commercial director, Qualzy
  • Jess O’Brien, market research manager, University of Warwick

Find out more about Qualzy.

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