As 2014 gets into full swing and market researchers everywhere begin to look ahead at what the year might have in store, two watchwords come up consistently across the board, regardless of industry or objectives: transparency and control. After last year’s big stories about data security, privacy, and corporate responsibility, one cannot underestimate the importance of these themes as valuable guiding principles for the market research industry and beyond.
The gathering of information has reached a new level of scrutiny, and words like simplicity, democratisation, fairness, and privacy are among the biggest buzzwords for 2014.
However, these terms can also mean different things to different people, depending on needs and objectives, and can be achieved in varying ways.
Here is a look at the most prominent expressions of these values, and how they can be realised in the year to come.
Maintaining professional relationships based on a consistent level of openness, honesty, and respect will be imperative in 2014. After the NSA scandal, well-publicised security breaches involving significant amounts of personal information, and controversial privacy updates by made by several social networks, the concept of trust has been severely tested in the past year.
This has created an opportunity for market research to act as a vehicle for rebuilding and reinforcing this trust by opening a straightforward dialogue to re-establish candid relationships every step of the way between research agencies, survey developers, brands, and consumers.
Creating and deploying surveys can work to establish trust by initiating a structured dialogue between a brand and its customers to offer information while also asking for their feedback, input on future developments, and opinions on pertinent topics.
Forming a survey panel in an open marketplace can be a viable option for engaging with a target audience, forming a mutually beneficial outlet for exchanging thoughts on matters of interest to all parties involved. Many market research solutions today also extend visibility to cover the reactions of respondents to the surveys themselves.
Options like soft launches and survey ratings from panellists can provide valuable feedback to catch errors and help buyers improve the quality of their surveys.
The importance of operational transparency extends to the structure of the research marketplace as well. Buyers want to know the provenance of the information they are sourcing and desire greater visibility over quality control and security processes.
By removing the black box over sample sourcing and procurement, operational models like open platform exchanges housing research panels offer a great deal of transparency over the entire supply chain.
By providing details such as panel ownership, panel sourcing and recruitment, incentives, the numbers of active panellists, panel demographics and more, an open framework helps to ensure clarity over the entire process, from making buying decisions to generating reports.
The power of control
Another way to guarantee greater transparency is by taking direct control of the market research process with a DIY sampling solution.
A growing number of self-service options are being made available for a wide range of research needs, from gathering insight to inform product development to gaining intelligence for improving customer services.
By their very nature, DIY sampling solutions offer robust levels of control by allowing significant hands-on involvement and input when doing fieldwork and data collection – including setting goals, crafting questions, identifying target audiences, reviewing results, and following up as needed with respondents.
Enhanced control over survey sampling can also benefit researchers by providing greater flexibility, such as the ability to choose between random and stratified samples, the option to exclude panellists on project and category levels, and the power of panel blending to reach niche target groups, eliminate bias, and source information from different recruitment methods to develop a well-rounded perspective.
Furthermore, advanced technology has made it possible to integrate efficient and cost-effective tools to streamline panel management, including automatic quality control processes that optimise panels according to panellist scores, email address validity, invite frequency, invitation de-duping, and invitee verification through unique identification information.
Overall, putting these tools directly into the hands of research professionals provides greater control and transparency while cutting down on the time and cost involved in the execution and delivery of market intelligence.
Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research software for creating online research panels and obtaining market insight, via its OpinionHUB global exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools into an exchange-based offering for transparent respondent access. For further information, please visit www.cint.com.