Bounce Insights

The Future of Panels
By: Luke Stafford
Updated: January 7, 2022 13:03
Posted: 24 Aug 2020 at 12:00
Table of Contents

Introduction

Quantitative research is on the cusp of innovation. In recent decades, there has been the acceptance of slow, inefficient and poorly engaged respondent groups that are ultimately disconnected from the research they are partaking in. The percentage of completions for any given survey across the industry is estimated to be between 2-4%, with email completion rates dropping as low as 0.5%. 

How has this become the norm? For an industry that is trusted with essential research, the most important aspect of this research is completely neglected i.e. the actual people doing the survey. The integrity of the panel has diminished, as they have resided to a mere data point, rather than a voice that should be respected and trusted to influence research.

In order to transform the engagement, quality and speed at which research can and should be carried out, we believe a few areas need to be reconsidered to sculpt the future of panels across the world.

Bottom-Up

There needs to be a shift in emphasis from top-to-bottom in terms of the research focus. You can spend all the time in the world designing the perfect survey, but if you do not understand the end-user or prioritise their experience, you will never get the research quality required. Researchers must combine effective methodologies with a deep understanding of the present-day consumer if they are to overturn these dismal completion rates. This starts with a prioritisation of the end-user – they are people after all.

Mobile Experience

For a population that spends hours each day focusing on their smartphone, it is striking the lack of adaptation that has happened across the quantitative research market in terms of being mobile native and responsive to changes in how people live. Using email as the medium to reach people nowadays is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight in fighting for the attention of the occupied consumer. How can you expect users to go from a 7-second Instagram story to a 25-minute long survey on a clunky browser, UX is key to ensuring the survey data quality is kept at a maximum. The future of panels shall be built on mobile, leveraging gamification, enhanced user experience and push notifications to redefine the quality of quantitative research.

Data-Driven Verification

It is no secret that panel providers are approached with caution, with a lack of trust and quality plaguing many areas of the industry for decades. Yet, as technology has advanced, quality standards have not kept pace. The global benchmark for verification remains at ‘double email opt in’ for panel participants, which is a feeble attempt to stop duplicate accounts, low-quality responses and forged personalities. The future of panels must pave the path for panel verification, dynamic targeting based on prior responses, and quality assurance tools within each survey to immediately flag and eliminate any response that would compromise quality. Clients should demand that trust is rebuilt via data-driven solutions, with new technologies at the forefront. A coherent quality assurance strategy will allow for higher quality insights to be delivered

Communities 

The future of panels is now divulging from a kind of one size fits all approach to a more tailored solution. This solution can be seen in the form of “Communities”, communities are a designated group of consumers with specific cultural/demographic characteristics that can be targeted by brands that appeal to them. This form of specific targeting allows for the crafting of catered experiences that elicit panel responses and boost completion rates. At Bounce we applied our knowledge before the competition because we knew that they had failed to convince clients to fully adopt mobile and that they were yet to figure out how to get the same data from mobile surveys. 

Turnaround times

The market research industry has developed a need for speed in recent years. Turnaround times of 48 and 24 hours are what research companies need to produce in order to remain relevant. We live in a culture of instant gratification which for a long time was user-facing but now is starting to become a core client demand. Traditional research projects would follow the following structure: 

  • Week 1: Project go-ahead. Write and approve recruiting guide and survey design. Identify participant sources from within or externally.
  • Week 2-3: Recruit participants for the study. Write and approve the interview guide or moderator’s guide.
  • Week 4-5: Conduct research. This may take less than two weeks, depending on your goals. 
  • Week 6-7: Write and present a market research report.

What used to take 2-3 weeks is now being demanded in a matter of hours. The time it takes to conduct the research is expected to take less than a day now. According to Kantar technological developments in machine learning and AI are the keys to fast consumer insights at scale. 

The term agile is used in almost every aspect of business today including market research. Questback published a report in 2018 outlining that agile research was the way forward, the fast nature and on time insights allowed for an unbiased due to the unprompted nature of real-time methods. This real time method shift the focus towards consumer experience.

FAQ’s for Market Researchers

How to design a survey?

User experience is key here. Be sure to ensure the design of your survey isn’t too long, complicated or slow for the user. Don’t get caught up in cross-sectional survey design as this can overcomplicate the process.

What is survey methodology and how do I write a survey methodology?

This refers to the entire process of creating, gathering resources, administering, analysing and presenting your survey to the relevant stakeholders. This process should be iterated and refined on a continual basis. 

How do you present survey results?

The best way to present survey results is with the Bounce Insights platform

Why do businesses use market research?

The definition of market research according to IMS is “the action of gathering, analysing and interpreting information to help solve marketing challenges”. Its main aim is to make informed strategic decisions. 

Conclusion

Panel expectations need to evolve, from making up the numbers to understanding and prioritising each person that engages in the research. The future of panels needs to be consumer-centric, smartphone-enabled and data-driven if they are to get rid of this ‘necessary evil’ reputation that they have built-in recent decades. For information on the best practices of survey design, survey design methodology and the best way to present survey results see Bounce’s collection of Guides, Tutorials and Blogs.

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