By: Richard Thornton
It is believed that lack of quality may kill the MR industry; MR likes to be seen as considering quality as a key driver in the buying of it, yet in practice one could argue there is little being done to support the perception of quality when it comes to the supply chain, respondent experience and sourcing part of data collection.
Indeed, lack of quality could kill the industry, but only as we know it today. Data collection will continue in other ways, led by more innovative, tech-focused companies, which can only be seen as a positive owing to that fact that the MR chain is still too tied into cumbersome, inefficient set-ups and ways of working. Price is still paramount over quality and not enough consideration is given to ‘value for money’ for suppliers of premium services, proven data quality and those that invest heavily in technology.
One key element in the maintenance of quality will be the continual commitment to growing and conserving sample supply. Without it, the calibre of online MR will diminish as respondents dwindle (particularly the younger demographic), creating an imbalanced sample. It is vital that the entire industry addresses this. Respondent care is an ongoing issue and as consumer habits evolve – engaging in online surveys using mobile devices for example – it must be reflected in the approach. Well-designed surveys and technology that improves the user experience are real areas of consideration, and there is no excuse not to take advantage of these.
The appetite among panelists to take part in more surveys is high – our own polling of 767 people across the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina showed that panelists seem open to survey participation several times a day. Combine this appetite with clever incentivization (like engaging, real-time and instantaneous rewards) and the scope to maintain those panelists is there. Growth opportunities will largely be driven by the MR sector working closely with suppliers such as publishers, brands and loyalty/reward program companies. Affinity-led partnerships where there is a pre-existing relationship between the brand and consumer are the key to the growth of the global sample population.
Considering ‘value for money’ as opposed to price alone is likely a better way to view sample sourcing and utilizing technology. This is something MR players have to take seriously because price has dominated the conversation for too long. The result has trickled down the entire value-chain, ultimately strangling most operators and squeezing everyone on margins, forcing many players to try and cut costs and even worse, cut corners to stay alive. This damages the revenue of panel owners and could cause them to lose interest in recruiting high quality panelists. Embracing the advances in technology, automating parts or all of a process where possible, will help reduce cost by removing the manual and time-consuming steps that can affect price.
The constant evolution of dashboard solutions, with enhanced control over sample functions, source allocation, monitoring and viewing of projects being executed, will further enhance quality in the industry through transparency and control.
So whilst it seems to be a hot topic in MR, I still believe we have a way to go before the industry can hand-on-heart claim to be truly committed to quality.