When it comes to panel quality in the consumer research industry, there is a much deeper issue at play. Why should panel suppliers change when their clients keep accepting the status quo on quality while simultaneously demanding lower costs? According to Ron Sellers, there are two defining truths in consumer research today:
Let me explain this further. In order for panel quality to improve, suppliers need to invest in new technologies and implement a panel management system that removes those respondents who don’t meet quality standards. However, there is no incentive within the industry to do this, so why would they? By increasing their overheads through investment and quality assurance practices, they further decrease their margins in a ‘race-to-the-bottom’.
Simply put, consumers have become commodities in the eyes of the researcher. In order to change this, it must become the goal of the client to demand transparency, reward investments in new technologies and ultimately pay more for increased quality, just like any other industry.
Unless clients start demanding better, and being willing to pay for demonstrably improved quality, no incentive to improve exists and we’ll continue to be stuck where we are today: lamenting the poor quality of panel samples while simultaneously pressuring companies to get their costs down, yet scratching our heads as to why nothing is improving.
Researchers must demand transparency and incentivising higher quality from panel suppliers. It is the objective of the researcher to communicate to clients the truth behind consumer panels today, and why you must invest in higher quality rather than settle for mediocrity. By lifting the benchmark, the expectation will become the reality in years to come.