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How Online Surveys in Market Research are Driving Change Online surveys are replacing telephone or traditional pen & paper interviews as the dominant data collection tool

By Jasal Shah

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In today's competitive market place, it is becoming increasingly challenging for companies to stand out from the clutter. And in that context market research has grown to become a strategic tool used by forward-looking companies to help drive their business objectives.

Let us look at an example of let's say cereals as a breakfast habit in India. Who would have even for a remote second thought about it 2 decades ago that cereals will come and invade Indian breakfast tables riding on the health platform? Can you imagine this, considering India has been practicing a generations-old traditional breakfast habit that features items like Idli, Vada, Parantha, Dosa, Poha, etc.

Benefits of careful Market Research Study

How do you think cereal companies successfully cracked the market over this period? This is clearly the result of a careful study of the Indian market and its transitioning environment that made this possible. What it takes is a market research study that closely monitored consumer patterns over a period of time which in turn aid companies to roll out full-fledged branding and educational campaigns towards driving behavioral change in the market place.

Sector Using Tools To Collect Data

However, it is also pertinent to note that like any other sector even the Market Research domain has witnessed transformation over the years. From what used to be limited to only face-to-face interviews at one point of time, today the sector deploys a plethora of tools to gather data — ranging from telephone, email, online, video conferencing and much more.

Popularity of Online Surveys

Online Panels or Online Surveys are one of the most popular formats today among the lot due to multiple reasons. This has resulted in online surveys replacing telephone or traditional pen & paper interviews as the dominant data collection tool. In this method, a pool of various respondents is pre-recruited to conduct online surveys, which is called an "Online Panel'.

These panelists who are based in different parts of the country/world and in large numbers are identified and signed up to share their feedback on any product, service, sector or any business process with quick turnaround time.The technology backbone of the company ensures that the right respondents are selected for each survey, repetition or fatigue is avoided and any bias or fraudulence is mitigated.

Profiling of Respondents

The Online Panel can be segregated into Consumer Panel, Healthcare Panel, HNIs Panel, Patient Panel, ITDMs (IT Decision Makers) et al. The respondents are profiled based on their history so that the most relevant surveys are sent to them, for instance, a medical professional is recruited into Healthcare Panel and would get surveys that relates to this profession which could be reviews of a new pharmaceutical company or a new OTC medicine, etc.

Similarly, the Online Panel can be further categorized into B2B and B2C as well. For a B2C study, a group of people can be recruited from either a specific demography or a role for instance grocery decision-makers for food studies or frequent travelers for travel studies, etc. For a B2B study, a pool of people will be chosen from a specific profession or industry, such as IT decision-makers or Business decision-makers.

Advantages of an Online Panel

Quality- Research: The samples or the pool of respondents in a data collection exercise are an integral part of ensuring research quality. Conducting the research through an online panel provider helps to gain access to profiled respondents who are the right target for a particular research. Moreover, an online panel is beneficial as it gives one the control to recruit and manage good quality samples.

Cost-Effective: The cost of conducting research through online panels is not an expensive affair vis-à-vis the traditional pen & pencil method as it involves fewer resources. This research method's cost to gather constructive feedback is comparatively low as opposed to other formats.

Reliable data for decision making: An online panel owned by a company encourages it to conduct more research regularly in order to helpmake decisions basis transitioning business conditions. The research data from an online panel can also be cross-linked with the data of qualitative research, wherein it enables the decision makers to lean on both qualitative and quantitative data.

Turn-around Time: The results of an online survey can at times be monitored and analyzed within a couple of hours of an invitation. Conclusions can be drawn after getting a large percentage of completed surveys coming from an initial email invite alone.

Ability to reach hard-to-reach Respondents: There are brands that serve niche group, and at times it becomes difficult to reach out to them and collecting their feedback. The Online Panel, which is built over a period of time, helps to reach these target audiences promptly due to an existing relationship.

Incredible ROI: Coupled with the cost, online surveys offer high value and reliability of results. The combination of the two makes online surveys the favorite methodology of all. Better research, better data, better decision and better strategyare all aligned in online surveys.

Evaluation of customer feedback is a never ending process and businesses have to use an efficient tool at their disposal to ensure customers are happy with the product and the service they receive. Online panel is one such tool, which can easily serve hot data-driven insights to businesses for better decision making.

Jasal Shah

MD/CEO, Markelytics Solutions

Jasal Shah  is the MD/CEO of Markelytics Solutions. He is an MBA graduate from the Institute for Technology and Management and has worked with leading agencies like IDC (International Data Corporation) and IMRB International (Part of the Kantar Group, WPP's information, insight and consultancy division). He specializes in technology related market research. He was recently felicitated with the Leadership Award by World Marketing Congress endorsed by CMO Asia for his contribution to Market Research Industry.

He has also served as the council member of most prestigious global market research association – ESOMAR.

Markelytics is a global market research company and leading provider of Global Project Management, MR Outsourcing solutions, Full-Service Research and Online Panel Services. They work on the principle of data driven decision making and are the pioneers of Off-Shore Outsourcing model and Online Market Research in India.

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