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Market Research Panels: Everything You Need to Know

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Did you know that over 30,000 consumer products are launched in the U.S. each year? How do you know if your product will stand out in the crowd?

Market research helps gain insights from your target audience about new products and services to avoid entering a market with a product that no one wants to buy. So it’s a way to save you time and money.

Market research panels are valuable resources for quickly collecting data from your target audience on what works and what doesn’t. In the market research industry, panels are rapidly growing in popularity. As we’ve shifted from telephone surveys to online surveys, market research survey methodologies have also evolved.

But how does a research panel work, what are the benefits of using a panel for market research, who should use it, and how do you recruit your own research panel? We’ll discuss that in this post.

What is a market research panel?

Market research panel1

It is a pre-recruited group of members explicitly recruited to participate in market research studies such as interviews, online surveys, and focus groups. These members generally have to share a lot of personal information to be able to participate in the research panel.

Some of this information includes:

  • Demographic data (race, sex, ethnicity, age, education level, etc.)
  • Household data (income, household size, number of children, etc.)
  • Behavioral data (shopping habits, hobbies, political inclinations, etc.)

When readily available, this crucial information makes recruitment of the research panel a lot easier for market research studies.

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What are the types of market research panels?

We can categorize online panels for market research into four types. You can group the four types into panels based on the extensive list of respondents and the types of respondents. 

→Market research online panels based on the extensive list of respondents. 

  1. Research supplier panels:

Market research supplier panels are typically larger since they consist of members from a cross-section of the B2C and B2B sectors. On contacting a research supplier panel, consider estimating an incidence rate to understand what percentage of their extensive database of panel members qualify for your specific research study. 

  1. Customer or corporate panels:

Customer or corporate panels are typically smaller since they consist of only customers who purchase specific products or services or who share similar behavioral habits or other similar traits.

→Market research online panels based on types of respondents. 

  1. B2B panels:

The online market research panels consist of business leaders, professionals, executives, advisors, owners, and decision-makers. It allows you to gather feedback from professionals regarding the industry or business. 

  1. B2C panels:

The market research consumer panel allows you to access long-term buyers of your products and services. Companies use this type of panel to gather feedback from consumers or end-users that represent their target market. 

Additional read: How to choose the right research panel?

When are market research panels used?

Market Research Panels: Everything You Need to Know Automatic Call Distributor

Let’s look at a few different instances where research panels are useful to employ:

1. When research needs to be conducted quickly:

As market research panels constitute pre-recruited participants, it is perfect for market research that needs to be conducted in a very short period of time. The market consumer research panel gives access to verified and willing respondents with extensive profiles. You can simply select the ideal respondents and screen them to get started with your research right away. 

2. When it is too expensive to reach participants:

A research panel is cost-effective in comparison to most other methods used to seek research participants. Focus groups or interviews can be expensive, whereas, market research panels enable you to gather valuable insights at a far lower cost. 

3. When you want to gather data on particular subjects: 

There may be a research topic such as a product or service concept that appeals to a small audience. A research panel with its large and diverse pool of respondents allows you to gather feedback on special topics. You gain access to the respondents who represent your small target audience. 

4. When you want to gather data for a prolonged period:

Say you want to gather insights on a product concept. You can use a market research panel to create a target respondent panel and gather their insights on the concept. You can then use the same participant to evaluate the product design, price, features, or other attributes before launch. 

You can use a research panel to gather data over time. 

  • Longitudinal research. 
  • Product development lifecycle.
  • Benchmarking research. 

5. When you want to reach a wider and more diverse audience:

Say you want to tap into the international market, you can use a research panel to do so. You can use online panels for market research that gives you access to domestic and international audiences to gather large-scale data. 

Whether your target market consists of diverse regions or languages, a panel enables you to choose your audience using profiling points. 

Now that we have learned some use cases of a research panel, let’s see who uses them.

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Who uses market research panels?

Third-party research panels are mostly used by market research companies to reach individuals (read target audience) who are interested in participating in a variety of research studies. 

Working with online panels for market research companies requires a somewhat complicated setup process, especially for those who do not have a background in marketing research.

Panels are mostly used by:

1. Market research companies

Market research firms conduct research studies for other organizations such as B2C or B2B companies using online research panels. The panels allow the firms to gather data from respondents who fulfill the participant criteria. 

What they do: They reach out to respondents to test product concepts, evaluate brand awareness, conduct competitive analysis, etc. 

2. Organizations

Organizations of different sizes and with different customer bases also use market research panels for their research studies. Research panels help them conduct longitudinal studies and track customer satisfaction over time. 

What they do: Organizations gather customer feedback to understand their current level of satisfaction with the delivered products and services.

3. Students

College and university students find panels quite handy for completing their research projects and thesis. The panels help them get an accurate representation of their population of interest for research projects.

How do market research panels work?

Market research has been continuously evolving since the early 1950s. With the booming digitization and innovation of panel research, it is now a primary market research method.

The recruitment of panel participants occurs via online channels and is done based on demographic factors, including age, gender, location, profession, education level, etc. This makes market research panels effective in surveying a very defined target group.

Participation in research panels often comes with incentives. Respondents receive rewards usually in the form of cash or gift cards.

As part of panel research, questionnaires are sent to members of the panel. Since the panel is made up of respondents who have been selected according to your specific needs, it becomes a sample of your intended target market.

Market research panel6

The panel members are vetted or screened to ensure that they represent your target market. This step guarantees that you gather the right data from the right respondents. The members are then sent a survey with the intent to gather valuable insights on your research subject. 

Today, online surveys are the most popular channel among researchers. Online survey tools allow you to conduct surveys quickly and allow respondents to take the survey anytime and on their preferred device. As a result, you gather accurate data on a large volume.

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What are the advantages of a market research panel?

It is essentially a group of people who are willing to participate in market research. 

Having a readily available group of respondents presents many advantages for a company including

1. Quicker fieldwork turnaround:

They are great for when you have limited time and your market research needs to be conducted very fast. Also, they are great for when market research would prove to be too expensive to seek research participants through other ways and means.

Using online panels for market research nearly guarantees quicker and more cost-effective fieldwork.

2. Richer respondent profiles:

Online market research panels have access to a diverse and large pool of verified respondents. You can create your ideal panel by selecting respondents who represent your target audience. 

Whether it is consumers, employees, industry leaders, general populations, etc, you can tap into rich respondent profiles. 

3. Higher response rates:

Since respondents have signed up themselves and are willing to participate in the research studies, they’re motivated to take part in the research. This means that they’re less likely to be “caught cold” by a survey.

4. Diverse point of view:

A well-established research panel can consist of any number of individuals from diverse backgrounds, professions, age groups, or regions, which eventually enables you to mirror your own specific audience during a research project.

5. Facilitates more research:

The cost-effectiveness and efficiencies allow researchers and companies of all sizes to conduct more research. Conducting more research allows them to make their study comprehensive and credible, potentially increasing its validity in the process.

6. Better brand positioning:

Market research panels help you get to the heart of your customer’s experience and position your brand for better awareness.

Product owners and service providers are doing everything possible to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. And while it’s difficult to solely differentiate based on your USP, the area that’s still up for grabs is the customer’s experience.

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What are the benefits of using a market research panel for buying samples?

Market research panels give you access to a large and diverse pool of audiences. However, there are many more benefits of buying samples from an online panel for market research. 

1. Better representative sample:

A research panel provider recruits members by gathering a diverse range of data such as, demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and geographical. When you use an online panel you can easily select the ideal respondents because you have access to all these data points. 

Instead of asking screening questions, you can select participants for your survey by selecting them based on the qualifying criteria for the research. 

2. Cost-effective:

For long-term research such as longitudinal, benchmarking, etc. buying a sample is a cheaper option. You can continue to conduct surveys reusing the panel, this will also allow you to gather data from the same people so you can track the changes over time. 

3. Speed:

Gathering respondents via sampling method can take a lot of time. Moreover, research itself is a slow process. It is not ideal to keep your research team busy with recruiting respondents when they can focus on another aspect of the research. 

A market research panel will help you speed up participant recruitment and also save the researcher’s time.

Conclusion

Research panels can deliver a broad range of benefits, from higher response rates to diverse insights, quicker fieldwork, and better brand positioning, among others.

However, the consumer panels market research meaning we shared at the start of this article only tells part of the story. Market research panels are largely motivated research participants who willingly sign up to participate in research studies.

Voxco Audience integrates with its online survey software. It can help you maximize response rates by nurturing a loyal community of respondents.

FAQs on market research panel

Online panels for market research refer to groups of people who are willing to participate in surveys and research. The panel members are verified to ensure authentic identity. You also get access to rich profile data on each individual to help you select your target audience based on your research needs.

There are 2 widely-known types of research panels – B2B and B2C. These two types are based on the type of respondents each panel includes. 

Organizations access B2B panels when they want to gather feedback from business professionals, industry leaders, experts, decision-makers, etc. 

Organizations use B2C market research panels when they want to gather feedback from customers and end users. 

Market research panels are cost-effective, have a higher response rate, give access to a large pool of respondents, and offer a diversified perspective. It is also faster to recruit respondents and get started on conducting research.

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Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence

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