Market research has been an instrumental part of business strategy worldwide. It helps companies gain insight into consumer behavior, market trends, and industry movements. At the heart of this critical field are the often-unsung heroes, the market research panels. They bridge the gap between companies and consumers, serving as the gateway to the ‘right people’ who offer their valuable insights to guide businesses in the right direction.
What is a market research panel?
A market research panel is a group of individuals who have agreed to participate in market research studies. Market researchers use the information these people provide about their preferences, behaviors, and opinions to help them make business decisions. The guardians of high-quality data in the research sector are panel research companies, which manage market research panels.
These panels primarily consist of ‘panel members’ who are carefully selected to match the desired target market for the research. The selection process ensures the collected data is representative of the broader population, thereby providing credible insights for businesses.
The scope of a panel extends beyond one-time engagements. Panel members often participate in multiple research projects over time, contributing to a variety of studies that can range from product testing and online surveys to focus groups and in-depth interviews.
Data collected and analyzed via a panel is meant to provide insight into various topics. Companies may wish to measure customer sentiment towards the company’s products or services, gain feedback on product design, gather thoughts and opinions on new campaigns, and foster further innovation. The data can also provide information regarding customer preferences regarding pricing structures, packaging, advertising, etc.
One key takeaway here is the importance of panel research companies in ensuring data quality. These companies meticulously vet each panel member to ensure they match the required profiles, thus providing reliable and actionable data.
Panel members are recruited from various backgrounds and experiences to ensure a wide range of thoughts and opinions. The panel must be large enough to account for representative demographics and small enough to ensure the asset’s effective management, health, and efficacy. Members of panels may be required to participate in both online and in-person activities, such as surveys or focus groups.
The need for panel research is expanding rapidly as market researchers and other business professionals demand quality samples to conduct online surveys, polls, in-depth interviews, and focus groups.
Essentially, decision-makers are looking for actionable insights related to customer experience, employee feedback, product development, marketing strategy, and organizational planning from:
- Potential Customers
- B2B Supply Chain Partners
Online survey panels are an effective, low-cost solution for reaching a broad range of consumer and B2B target audiences for online research projects while promising reliable data quality for ad-hoc and longitudinal research studies.
Using research panels: The how’s and why’s
So, how do businesses effectively use research panels? The answer lies in understanding the unique features and benefits these panels offer.
Research panels provide easy access to a specific group of consumers. Instead of trying to find the ‘right people’ among the vast sea of customers, companies can engage with panel research companies that already have a ready-to-go pool of respondents. This accessibility of panels has revolutionized the research industry.
But the use of research panels doesn’t stop at providing access. The real value lies in the rich data points they offer. Panel research companies can provide a wealth of information about panel members, including their demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and attitudes. This wealth of information can help businesses create a more tailored survey design, enhancing the survey experience and thereby increasing engagement and response rates.
Moreover, panel research companies often offer a wide range of panels, from internet panels to custom panels, catering to different research needs. For instance, a B2B brand may opt for a custom panel composed of industry professionals, while a content creator might prefer an internet panel of digital natives.
Survey research projects today examine a broad spectrum of subject areas of varying complexities. Data collection for commercial research, social, and academic studies covers needs ranging from diverse B2B audiences and topics to such as:
- Study healthcare matters with Physicians, healthcare workers, and the patient voice as well.
- Improve products and services with B2B Brand Tracking and consumer audiences by understanding awareness, attitude, and usage within a target market, industry sector, or region.
- Strategize and plan public & social policy issues among constituents about events that affect them.
While a panel database is not the only method to reach a group of people for online surveys, research buyers will likely achieve significantly improved outcomes over alternative methods of sampling and recruiting for data collection via quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews.
And whether you are contemplating an in-house panel or using a research vendor with panel expertise, a panel will ensure you are achieving speed, respondent data quality, and cost-effectiveness with your research projects for these principal reasons:
- Improved Access to Representative Sample Populations: Quality B2B and consumer surveys start with knowledge and experience. A survey requires a research sampling resource representing an actual population and experts who know how to build and maintain this asset.
- Precise Survey Audience Targeting: Panel research companies that focus on consumer online panelists classify and segment by targeting profile attributes like demographics (age, gender), geography, product usage, behaviors, and voter constituents. B2B panels classify by job title, industry, and other firmographics.
- Convenient Access to Survey Participants: from a target population to determine the likely attitudes and behaviors of the people it represents. Using an online panel lets you sample your target audience and reach people using simple market research survey software tools.
- Flexibility of Research Design: You can perform quantitative data analysis with confidence by leveraging data collected from surveys completed by panel members. Alternatively, you may explore, via focus groups; participant attitudes and behaviors more in-depth, using qualitative data analysis.
When reaching survey respondents or focus group participants using a market research panel, there are various alternative ways to engage or connect people to your research projects, including:
- sending invites to lists of email addresses,
- placing survey links on websites or social media sites,
- and sending mobile text messages with a survey or screener link.
These can all be valid, low-cost ways to obtain responses, but they come at a cost. More Time. Less Feasibility. Accuracy.
- It is essential to follow market research methods and standards to achieve representation and reduce non-response bias ensuring everyone who qualifies also has the chance to respond to any given survey opportunity.
- It is crucial to have a holistic and inclusive master plan. For your research project to succeed, the panel must operate in a way that meets the needs of both researchers and participants.
The crucial role of market research companies
Market research companies play a vital role in the effective functioning of research panels. Offering services ranging from panel recruitment and management to data collection and analysis, they ensure the panels are maintained and updated regularly, handling all the technical aspects, from survey design to data analysis.
A market research company not only oversees the panel but also ensures that the panel is diverse enough to meet the needs of different research projects. Leading data from the research industry suggests that diverse panels can provide more accurate and comprehensive insights.
Even the simplest of market research studies require experience with sample planning and questionnaire screening design. In addition, market research panel companies must provide panels that offer recruitment balancing to a representative audience and use probability sampling techniques once the sample frame has been set.
A market research firm will leverage a Panel Management Software System to pre-recruit participants. Whether you’re starting a market survey or planning to conduct an online focus group to connect with the target audience, it’s crucial to organize and leverage your panel and an online survey to work together in the following way…
- It is essential to re-screen for the online survey’s qualifying responses as a best practice.
- Updating participant profiles, particularly product usage and changing demographics, or matching customer personas (in the case of corporate or organizational panels), is essential to panel health and data quality.
- It is equally essential to profile the panel membership for attributes to target their behaviors, preferences, ownership, other group identifiers, and demographics.
- For each live survey, every respondent, whether pre-targeted or not, is taken blindly through online survey screeners for study qualification.
When considering managing your own research panel and specifically the steps from panel recruitment to participant engagement to curate the highest quality panels, here is our process:
40M Global Participants
OvationMR B2B and consumer research panels are curated using segmentation and special targeting then recruited by invitation only to ensure diversity and accurate representation.
Registered, Validated, Profiled
Invitees are taken through a double opt-in process to join. Each panel member is identity validated, followed by profiling for future survey or research project qualification.
Feel Confident in the Results
Expect consistent online sampling results you see now will not change due to data quality is a great feeling. We’ve got you.
Speak with an Expert
Who can benefit from solutions offered by panel research companies?
More quantifiable benefits of using market research panel companies
Fast, Reliable Answers for Insightful Research as online survey panels offer you the insights professional, consultant, and other business decision-makers affordable, high-quality data from real people while offering the ability to achieve a representative sample of your target market. Particularly compared with other types of survey data collection methods like: phone surveys, mail surveys, or surveys using email lists.
Online Survey Panels have Higher Participation Rates among survey respondents and are generally the fastest and most efficient method to reach your target audience.
Significantly Improved Data Management for consumer research panels and highly curated online B2B research panels to provide enriched data options include:
Supports a Wide Range of Research Methodologies when using modern and innovative online panel companies that blend technology and experience to deliver the highest quality industry research data solutions you can conduct for following types of market research:
Geographic access for B2B research and consumer research panel audiences:
Precise Sample Population Targeting with an online market research panel reach of over 40 million global participants across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. With all regions encompassing different audience types, all validated, profiled, checked for duplicate respondents, and verified as real individuals who are invited to join.
- United States
- Costa Rica
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Evolution of the B2B market research panel
Market research panels have evolved over time. Today, they are more accessible, more diverse, and more technologically advanced than ever before.
Internet panels, for instance, have revolutionized the way businesses gather information. With the rise of digital technology, companies can now reach out to consumers and the global workforce across the globe with a simple click. This easy access has made market research more efficient and cost-effective.
Custom B2B panels have also emerged as a powerful tool in the research industry. These panels are tailor-made to fit specific research needs, allowing businesses to target unique niches or specialized markets. For instance, a B2B brand might commission a custom panel of industry professionals to gain insights that cannot be gleaned from a general consumer panel.
Furthermore, the methods used in panel research have also evolved. Online surveys and internet panels have supplemented traditional research techniques like focus groups and in-depth interviews, making it simpler for panel members to participate in research projects. This shift has not only improved the survey experience for panel members but also increased the efficiency and speed of data collection.
- B2B feasibility and expert project delivery comes through a combination of highly curated global proprietary panel assets (decision makers, industry experts, trade professionals, and technicians) and focused customer service teams.
- Experience better completion rates with every project you begin. You get the support of industry experts, including project management with consultative experience, in-depth and broad industry vertical knowledge intensely focused on B2B Research.
Conduct any market survey and be confident when you are looking for online B2B niche audiences like:
Frequently asked questions
What is a market research panel?
An online survey panel offers convenient sampling for market research purposes, such as online surveys and focus groups from a target population to determine the likely attitudes and behaviors of the people it represents. Panel members are identified in advance and sent a prequalified panel invitation via email, social media, or other online application. When the panel member prospect is validated as a full member, they may begin to participate in research projects on topics concerning products and services or social and community issues. Survey respondents are compensated with a range of reward choices, from cash to gift cards. These are modest rewards designed not to influence the research but to reward the panel member for being a responsible member of the panel community.
Are consumer research panels different from B2B panels?
Panel research with consumers is primarily used for targeting respondents that meet the characteristics and specifications of research aimed at non-business-related subject matter. Profiling information in a consumer panel is typically demographics, interests, and product usage. B2B, or business-to-business, panels instead focus on organizations and the titles (by industry sector) of business owners, licensed experts, and other trade professionals.
What are the advantages of an online market research panel?
An online survey panel offers researchers, consultants, and other business decision-makers affordable, high-quality data compared with other survey data collection techniques like telephone, face-to-face intercept, or mail surveys. In addition, online panel surveys are the fastest and most efficient method because of their precision targeting and the massive scale and speed of the internet. They offer a place where you can be certain of quality data compared with email lists and that you are not going to have to worry about duplicate respondents.
What is the importance of data quality in research panels?
Data quality is a paramount concern in the research industry. Inaccurate or unreliable data can lead to misguided business decisions, making it crucial for panel research companies to ensure the data they provide is of high quality.
Market research companies play a critical role in maintaining data quality. They vet each panel member to ensure they fit the required profiles, monitor the data collection process to prevent errors or bias, and analyze the data to ensure its validity and reliability. By offering these services, market research companies help businesses make informed decisions based on accurate and trustworthy data.
What are some real-world applications of panel research?
Panel research is not just a theoretical concept; it has numerous real-world applications. Market research panels are often used in product development, where businesses gather feedback from panel members during the soft launch phase to fine-tune their offerings before the full-scale launch.
Content creators also make use of market research panels to better understand their audience. By surveying panel members who match their target audience’s profiles, content creators can gain insights into their audience’s preferences and behaviors, helping them create content that resonates with their audience.
B2B brands, too, find value in market research panels. By surveying panels of industry professionals, B2B brands can gain in-depth insights into their industry’s trends and dynamics, helping them stay ahead of the competition.
The future of market research panels
The future of market research panels looks promising, with new trends and technologies on the horizon. Leading research industry data indicates that panel research will continue to change as a result of advancements in digital technology and data analysis techniques.
For instance, internet panels are expected to become even more prevalent, driven by increasing internet penetration and the growing acceptance of online surveys. Custom panels are also expected to grow in popularity as businesses seek to gain more specific and tailored insights.
Furthermore, the use of advanced data analysis techniques is expected to improve the quality and depth of insights derived from panel research. Techniques like big data analytics and machine learning can help market researchers analyze complex datasets, uncover hidden patterns, and make more accurate predictions.
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