It’s not breaking the news that the way we conduct market research is changing. The research industry is evolving with technological advances such as mobile phones, which allow you to conduct panel research and collect data easier and faster than the traditional landline surveys. But, one important thing to remember: the data is only as good as your panel.

What is Panel Research?

Panel research is a method for collecting data repeatedly, from a pre-recruited set of people. These individuals generally provide demographic, household and behavioral data, which can make conducting future studies easier. Technology, primarily the internet, has transformed panel research methodology by the ease of which we can access larger numbers of respondents. Panel research provides many advantages for companies including faster turnaround, higher participation rates, and cost savings. The quantitative data can provide companies with insights into pricing, effectiveness and sales projection of their products or brand.

Why is a Research Panel important?

Building a quality research panel is very important because your data depends on it. With a research panel, you are able to build rich profiles of your members, which will help to ensure that your reporting provides quality responses. If you are looking to launch a new mobile phone, you would want to target panelists who are interested in mobile phones and technology to yield more informed responses. Additionally, a well-managed panel of pre-recruited respondents allows for a faster response rate, as the participants have shown interest in participating in surveys by joining the panel.

How to Recruit for a Research Panel?

We use many different channels to recruit members who will be active participants in our panel research. The one we’ve found most effective is via the internet, specifically email and social media. Once we’ve recruited a member, we have them fill out a short survey with profile information, which we use to create a better understanding of our target audience.  

Build your own Research Panel or “Rent” one?

In cases where your customers are considered niche, it makes sense to invest the time into building out your own online panel of respondents. While it obviously takes more effort than using an outsourced panel provider (“renting”), the quality of the respondents is generally higher in self-recruited panels, and in the long term, the cost is cheaper than using external vendors for all your market research initiatives.

At QuestionPro, we understand the importance of panel research. We provide power to your research with an incredible sample consisting of 22 million panelists, from over 32 countries with 300+ profile data points. We provide our customers with 360-degree survey solutions. We understand our customers and their needs and provide the answers accordingly.

Panel Research Example

Let’s take an example to understand how panel research is executed at an organizational level and how it helps derive meaningful insights.

In market research, the most commonly used panel is that of consumer panels. This panel type is used by organizations to get an understanding of buyer/customer psychology, personality and purchasing habits that extend to the type of product/service preference, features, and influence of cost factors. Typically used in qualitative market research studies, the panelists are usually localized and sourced from specific geographic regions and are rarely generalized.

Let’s take a hypothetical instance where, say, Apple intends to understand the scope of improvement or feature enhancement in comparison to a competitor, say, Samsung. In this case, Apple can get effective consumer insights by conducting an online community research on a sample of “smartphone customers who use Samsung products”. This way, Apple can gather actionable feedback on what it needs to do to attract Samsung users by potentially implementing the collected feedback. The success of such a panel research is highly dependent on the quality of the sample with multiple determining factors such as concept and question understanding, honesty and willingness to provide active feedback.

Advantages of Panel Research:

  • Rate of research response is amplified as panel members have willingly signed up to participate in the research process.
  • Different aspects of a particular subject can be discussed with panel members, unlike other research methods where a single topic needs to be discussed at a time. This makes panel research effective and less expensive.
  • A panel consisting of a sizeable number of participants makes it easy for marketers to record behavioral changes across demographics due to the diversity of panel members.
  • Capturing better details in panel research insights as panel members have a more sophisticated understanding of the research subject since they are profiled, screened and validated during recruitment.
  • Qualitative market research methods such as focus groups, discussions, online interviews can be far more effective if they’re conducted with well-recruited panel.
  • Quantitative market research can be conducted to muster data and metrics based inputs for survey research by sending out online surveys and online polls to a panel.

Disadvantages of Panel Research:

  • There are cases where certain members of the panel may not intend to honestly help you out as they register for every panel they come across for the perks. Evaluate your panel on basis of authenticity at regular intervals and remove members you have a hunch about.
  • Over a course of time, response rates of tenure members who’ve been a part of the panel for an extended time frame may decrease.
  • Frequent panel management is required to deal with problems regarding attrition.

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