What are online consumer research panels?

An online consumer research panel is defined as a group of people recruited by a business or organization to provide inputs and opinions on products and services. Online consumer research panels are also known as the audience. They are used for conducting research relating to product testing, product feedback, improvement ideas, advertisement testing or other areas. The panel members are chosen to be representative of the general population or a target group. The panels themselves have hundreds of thousands of people. Organizations can pose their questions to an appropriate segment of the panels, based on a specific demographic or a socio-economic group.

Why are online consumer research panels necessary:

Business today is all about customer experience i.e. keeping consumers satisfied. It is necessary to understand them for ensuring that your products and services meet their needs.  Understanding your consumers offers opportunities for growth. Keeping your consumers happy is an important aspect of having an upper hand over your competitors. Solid sales growth and performance are critical to pushing long-term viability and business success for organizations. Just knowing how much you sell each week and at what price is only one part of the story. To grow sales and be a successful business, organizations need to know which levers to pull.

Conducting consumer research through online consumer research panels is an exercise to find truths in consumer behavior and attitudes. It helps organizations gather first-hand insights about their products. It also helps them alter or make changes to them to better suit the consumers. Traditional survey methods were time-consuming. Researching via online research panels is an effective method to efficiently tap customer attitude and behavior patterns in real-time. This allows you to plan for the next big step while capturing timely, critical input.

How listening and capturing authentic insights from your online consumer research panels help:

Today, consumers are in control of almost every type of business. If they are not satisfied with the product or service, they may easily switch to a competitor. By listening to the inputs from your online consumer research panels, you are identifying opportunities for growth and enhancing your product design. Panel survey is used for panel research to track continuous consumer purchasing habit, like purchasing groceries, food, and drinks, electronic gadgets, clothing items, toiletries, etc. By capturing these inputs and putting them to practice, you ensure to retain the existing customers while simultaneously growing your consumer base. Listening to consumers and acting on their feedback will also gain you loyal customers who in turn may act as advocates of your business if satisfied.

Shifting online consumer research panel insights to action

Consumers and the insights they offer are more complex than ever. Every consumer is different and each has different expectations from a product or service. Through targeted demographics, online consumer research can accurately capture consumer behavior and insights. While obtaining in-depth insights from audiences has forever been an essential objective, a new level of knowledge and understanding is also necessary to see a fuller picture. Moreover, acting upon feedback received from online customer panels will deem the panel useful. Today’s true leaders are ignoring hunches and using insights from online consumer research panels to make decisions based on services and products. These are those successful organizations that have committed to turning data into action for transforming their businesses for the better. Online consumer research panels provide the big picture – consumer connection, consumer insights, actionable data, and research optimization.

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Different types of online consumer research panels

Different types of online consumer research panels are set up for different purposes to achieve different goals. Here are the types and uses of various consumer research panels:

  • Trendsetter consumer research panels: These panels consist of the people who are the first ones to adopt ideas and products. They help to measure what is the next step and how buyers are going to accept or refuse future products or services.
  • Brand online loving consumer research panels: These panels are made up of people who love certain brands so much that they will answer surveys and questions without being incentivized. They love to try out the new products released by same brand and therefore give the most honest and accurate feedback.
  • General consumer research panels: These research panels are panels where consumers are selected based on their usage of products or services. They contain random individuals who are recruited to answer a variety of questions in a variety of projects. The consumers are selected based on their usage of products or services.
  • Creatively inclined consumer research panels: These panels consist of individuals that are headed for the process of innovation. They are general or frequent customers of a brand or business and are trained so that they can use their problem-solving skills to the best of their abilities.
  • Continuing consumer research panels: This type of a consumer research panel is based on continuity and the panel is set up for an unspecified length of time. The primary aim of this consumer panel is to collect information on a specific character of consumer behavior for an extensive period.

Recruitment modes for online consumer panels:

Online consumer research panel recruitment can be done in a variety of ways. Let’s highlight a few common methods used for panel recruitment and give some details on these methods. The intention behind the various methods of recruitment is to push users to a certain website (Online Panel Recruitment Portal) whereby users can signup and agree to be part of the panel. It is important for members to self-register to the panel. This presents the idea of self-service to the members of the panel. It saves a lot of administrative costs in terms of the day-to-day panel management in the long run. Panel members are already accustomed to self-service and can log in to the panel recruitment portal and view the status of surveys or update email addresses and other details.

  • Online Links and Ad’s on your current website – You may add links to your existing website that showcases your products or services – ask users if they’d be interested in joining an online advisory panel. The prime target here naturally is your existing customers or people who are interested in the service or product.
  • Targeted advertising in industry-specific sites – If you are interested in developing a panel for a certain niche business, this is a highly cost-effective way to go. For example, if you were trying to build a panel for the wedding ring industry, advertising on engagement and wedding sites would be a way to build your panel.
  • Phone Recruitment – If you possess phone numbers of members of the panel, you would want to recruit, the call-center scripts may include recommendations to the portal for Panel Recruitment.

Advantages and shortcomings of online consumer research panels:

Online consumer research panels seem to be hot these days. These research panels are of all sizes and types—and for every goal. Here are the advantages and shortcomings of consumer research panels.

Advantages of online research panels:

Online consumer research panels are an efficient way to collect data and receive information from specialized consumers. These groups of people prove to be very useful for conducting market research. The following are their advantages:

  • Motivation: The panel members are motivated people who join to assist with research.
  • Always on their toes: Panels remain current if maintained well and give a complete picture at all times.
  • Quality feedback: Loyalty and retention programs promoted through established incentives deliver deep, realistic feedback from respondents.
  • Personal touch: Branding is everything, but a brand with a powerful personal connection will affect the ‘next big thing.’
  • Low cost: The cost of performing research and gathering feedback from the online audience is very low.
  • Time-saving: Research projects can be wrapped up quickly enabling organizations to react quickly to the findings.
  • High response-rate: Response rates tend to be high as respondents have opted-in to take part in the research.
  • Quick changes: If there are changes in the preferences of customers, these changes can be researched and implemented very quickly.
  • Sensitive issues covered: Consumer panels can report on more sensitive issues, including X-rated products, cigarettes, and alcohol to name a few.
  • Study consumer activity better: Lastly, online audience can provide a fantastic insight into sales activity and it allows companies to compare their figures and effects on consumers.

Shortcomings of online research panels:

Collecting data through online consumer research panels is a useful method. But it has its flaws, especially as a standalone data collection method. Some of the shortcomings of using consumer panels include:

  • Limited sampling and respondent availability – Certain population samples are less likely to have internet access and to respond to online questionnaires.
  • Possible cooperation problems – Although online surveys in many fields can achieve response rates equal to or slightly higher than that of traditional survey modes, today, internet users are regularly shelled by messages and can simply delete your advances.
  • No interviewer – A lack of a trained interviewer to clarify and the probe can lead to less reliable data.
  • Loss of Participants – If you use panels for many months, you will likely have some participants drop out. If you try to cut costs by inviting just enough participants to give you the feedback you need, dropping even 10 percent of the group can reduce the accuracy and value of your results.

Though the list is not exhaustive, you can see that the advantages may outweigh the shortcomings for researchers in most situations, especially for shorter, simpler projects.

Online consumer research panels with QuestionPro Audience:

QuestionPro Audience offers research panels to those who require instant answers. These answers pertain to complex questions related to clientele, brand and the market you cater to. It offers expertized and responsive personal support that offers the launching of surveys at very short notice. Use the online analytics dashboard to observe responses and make changes accordingly. 

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