Introduction

Panel surveys are a type of survey conducted over a long period measuring consumer behavior and perception of a product, an experience, or a service.

In this article, we will understand panel surveys, the methodology that guides them, their importance, some examples, and much more.

What are Panel Surveys

Panel Surveys are online research studies that measure the behavior of individuals, such as their habits, thought patterns, what they feel, and the different emotions they experience over time. They are usually made up of customers of a brand, employees of an organization, patients of a hospital, or regular individuals who participate in voting during an election.

The aim is to gather a group of people who can provide valuable insights. In panel surveys, the same group of people, usually the target audience, is interviewed at different times to clarify what influences the respondents’ attitudes and changes in their behavior.

While various approaches may be used for the data collection for the surveys, a quantitative (numerical data) and qualitative process is adopted depending on the type of study and expected results. It is important to note that a panel survey and a survey panel do not mean the same things.

A panel survey is a type of survey that is carried out, while a survey panel is a group of people put together, willing to share their opinions about something. The research tool used for the panel survey can be a mix of all of the following.

  • Online surveys
  • In-depth interviews (IDIs)
  • Focus groups
  • In-home use tests (IHUTs)
  • Mobile ethnography (The study of customers in a neutral or natural environment, using mobile technology to record and analyze the customer’s experiences in real-time remotely.

 

Panel Surveys: A Kind of Longitudinal Study

Panel surveys can also be referred to as a kind of longitudinal study due to the similarities in methodology. For instance, the survey owner does not influence the participant in longitudinal studies.

Instead, questionnaires are distributed to observe and record fluctuations in the respondent’s attitude, behaviors, feelings, and emotions over an extended period of varying times. 

As with longitudinal studies, most panels survey are designed for quantitative and qualitative analysis.

With longitudinal studies, researchers collect and observe data on different aspects without influencing the variables. 

This kind of research uses longitudinal surveys and can last years. 

Using Panelists in Your Target Market

A market research panel is one of many ways to obtain research data. In this method, participants are sourced for, carefully selected, and screened to ensure they meet the requirements. The participants chosen for market research are usually part of multiple research surveys. 

Participants of a market research panel are used in multiple research surveys and are expected to join several rounds of surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

This is one of the reasons researchers opt for longitudinal studies in panel surveys, as it entails the repeated examination of the same group of people to pinpoint any changes that might occur.

Market research panels can also be used to carry out cross-sectional research studies, dealing with data about a fixed group of people at a specific time. Using panelists in your market research helps researchers to understand the perceptions and emotions customers associate with a brand and the drivers that inspire such feelings.

To do this successfully,  the following steps are necessary to use panelists to conduct market research:

Understand Market Research Panels and Why They Matter

Panelists provide a pool of willing research respondents, made up of the ideal target audience, that they can study closely, which is vital in any study.

This allows researchers to understand. and all of their customer’s pain points and provide market-fit solutions proactively.

In addition, using panelists in research could also be converted into a marketing strategy. The experience gathered during the survey could begin a relationship with your brand, prompted by the panelists’ knowledge during the surveys.

 Identify Your Target Audience

It is vital to identify the market segments that would be a part of your study before you commence recruitment of your panel. This would help you identify the appropriate customer personas

This means fictional characters representing your target audience, who they are, where they can be found, their preferences, and general demographics.

What To Study With a Panel Survey

Panel surveys measure parameters and human behaviors and monitor consumer purchasing habits on products. For example, a panel survey can analyze the pricing of a product, the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, and the experience customers have when interacting with the brand.

The Importance of Panel Surveys

Panel research creates many advantages for companies by providing qualitative data, which fosters quicker turnaround, a higher participation rate, and deep insights into pricing, sales, effectiveness, and sales forecast of their products. Panel surveys are essential because your data depends on them. With a research panel, you can ensure quality responses.

Panel Survey Examples: What Do Researchers Use Panels For?

Example #1: Tracking Changes Over Time

The process of data collection in panel surveys involves using the same questions at different times to gather information. This allows a brand to track key performance indicators and record changes over time.

Example #2: User Experience Research

Panel surveys measure how respondents interact with specific features and their user experience, allowing for the effect of divergent variables to be better studied among participants.

Example #3: Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Panel surveys can be made up of loyal customers and measure their overall customer experience and satisfaction across different touchpoints over some time. This gives insight into drivers of positive and negative perceptions about your brand.

Example #4: Employee Engagement

To track employee engagement, staff members can be members of the panel survey and be surveyed weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., depending on your needs. In such instances, people can be surveyed across various parameters;

  • Employee engagement at work
  • Satisfaction with their work
  • Their understanding of your company’s mission and more. 

These can be measured using employee satisfaction, employee feedback, eNPS, or employee burnout surveys.

Example #5: Customer Loyalty

Panel surveys help track customer loyalty, as the process allows you to glean insights on how to increase their loyalty to your brand. Various brand issues that affect your brand can be tracked throughout the year ad help you uncover any concerns in your brand perceptions.

 

Pros & Cons: The Advantages and Drawbacks of Panel Surveys

Like other survey methods, panel surveys have pros and cons. A significant advantage is that panel surveys use a longitudinal mode of measuring data over an extended period, enabling the capture of a broader range of panel members’ opinions.

This, in turn, births six significant advantages:

Advantage #1: Panel surveys give better information

Targeting and surveying your audience at various times allows for collecting diverse qualitative and quantitative data. Analyzing these data points provided a deeper insight into your research hypothesis.

For instance, if your panel survey aims to reposition your brand, it helps you collect data over an extended period. It will help you capture evolving market trends quickly, and these extra bits of information will give you a competitive edge.

Advantage #2: Panel surveys have minimal respondent “fatigue.”

With panel surveys, you can administer shorter surveys, implemented in several waves over time, and get a higher quality of data. This is so because respondents are more motivated to focus on shorter surveys rather than long ones, which can lead to boredom and survey fatigue.

Advantage #3: Panel surveys are cost-effective and efficient

One-on-one interviews can be tasking and time-consuming, requiring many resources to implement. With panel surveys, similar questions are used, and the same audience can be survey repeated with different short surveys, which makes it a more cost-effective survey method.

Advantage #4:Panel diversity

Since panel surveys consist of a mix of people from different works of life, the panel is more diverse, and data collection from this group is a mix of different demography.

Thus the possibility of capturing more details is higher as the panelist are informed, subject matter experts.

Advantage #5:Panel Efficiency

The efficiency levels of the panel survey are very high as the members are prescreened at inception following a rigorous selection process.

Advantage #6: Targeted Product Testing

With panel surveys, products can be tested with the target customers before their final release to the open market. This allows you to gain first-hand insight into your customer’s perceptions so that you can make necessary adjustments based on their feedback before the product’s final release.

Use this: Product Testing Survey Template

Disadvantages of Panel Surveys

It is Limiting:

It is limited to respondents with access to the internet, and this is ideal if your location consists of a large number of people with internet access. However, suppose the demography of people in your area comprises a mix of people without internet access. In that case, there is a likelihood that your survey will not capture an accurate picture.

Duplicate Respondents:

The thrill of incentives heightens the risks of duplicate respondents, which can mess up the data completely.

Poor Data Quality:

Poor data quality is one of the drawbacks of panel surveys, as the motivation inspired by incentives leads to multiple fake accounts and sometimes bots.

Time Consuming:

The recruitment method can be tasking as it takes a lot of time to vet and recruit members of a panel survey.

Survey bias is likely, especially when panelists tend to provide agreeable responses or feel pressured to respond in a certain way.

Panel Fatigue

Repeated survey participation can cause boredom and panel fatigue, where respondents tick random answers without giving any thought just to be over and done with the surveys.

Organic Sampling: A Better Alternative to Panel Surveys

Organic sampling is administering surveys to a random group of respondents. The respondents in organic sampling are regular people obtained from various sources on the internet and are given the option of participating in surveys or not.

Organic sampling is based on a delivery structure called Random Device Sampling.

This framework targets respondents in a digital space, like websites, mobile apps, etc. Then it tracks the unique identification of participants and tracks them across various devices. 

The RDE system ensures that the process is organic and random, the participants participate in the survey in their organic environment, and the respondents decide their participation without any catch or incentive associated with their decision.

Organic sampling has a lot of benefits; however, with every process, there are also cons. So the decision to use organic sampling over panel survey methods lies with you.

Some benefits of organic sampling include the following:

  • It is a neutral organic environment that disallows panel conditioning, thus allowing for genuine responses from the respondents.
  • It is specific and targets the unique identity of participants to allow for easy recognition of your participants to prevent duplication of efforts.
  • The unique respondent identification system helps you have a database of respondents, including participant’s behavior and demographic data, which is vital.
  • The result of this unique ID collection helps fraud prevention, elimination of spam, and bot participation in your survey.
  • The higher response rate provides a seamless user experience across all devices.
  • It also integrates seamlessly with various digital platforms, facilitating greater accuracy.

Cons

  • However, with organic sampling, you are subject to the whims of the websites and apps they integrate with. Sometimes, your respondents may visit apps and other digital spaces incompatible with your RDE survey.

 

When compared with a panel survey, organic sampling can help prevent some of the downsides of panel surveys, such as panel fatigue and panel conditioning.

 

Conclusion

Panel surveys are not a new phenomenon and are still relevant to date. The focus of panel surveys is to gauge customers’ experience, perceptions, and opinions about a brand over a long period to know if there would be variation in their views as time evolves.

 


  • Angela Kayode-Sanni
  • on 9 min read

Formplus

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