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.
Business today is all about customer experience i.e. satisfying consumers. 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. Reviewing performance based solely on scanning data is only a starting point. 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.
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.
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 gaining in-depth insights into your audience has always been an important goal, a new level of understanding is also needed to achieve 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.
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 trying new products of the same brand and hence have the most honest replies.
- 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. These are the general or regular consumers of a business or brand and are trained so that they can use their problem-solving skills to the best of their abilities.
- Continuing consumer research panels: This is another kind of a consumer research panel based on the length and in this type; the panel is set up for an indefinite length of time. The main aim of such a consumer panel is to gather information on a certain aspect of customer behavior for an extended period.
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 idea behind all the different modes of recruitment is to drive users to a particular website (Online Panel Recruitment Portal) whereby users can signup and agree to be part of the panel. We believe that it is important for panel members to self-register. This introduces the concept of self-service to the panel members. 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 change email addresses, view status of surveys, etc.
- 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 primary target here obviously is your current customers or users who are interested in your product or service already.
- Targeted advertising in industry-specific sites – If you are interested in developing a panel for a particular niche industry, this would be a very cost-effective way to go. For example, if you were trying to build a panel for the wedding ring industry, targeted advertising on wedding sites as well as engagement sites would be a way to build your panel.
- Phone Recruitment – If you already have segmented phone numbers of panel members you would like to recruit, your call-center scripts can include references to the Panel Recruitment Portal.
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.
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.
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, internet users today are constantly bombarded by messages and can easily 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 consumer panels for several months or even longer, 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, losing 10 percent or more of your group can decrease 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.
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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