What is a Market Research Panel?

Market research panels are growing in popularity each day in the industry. As the industry has shifted away from telephone surveys and into the online and digital world, survey methodologies and techniques have evolved. Due to the erosion of landlines and the increased share of time consumers spend online, it presents opportunity for companies to reach out to respondents on the internet to gather feedback.

What is a Market Research Panel?


What is a panel?

A panel is a pre-recruited group of individuals who have agreed to take part in market research such as surveys, in-depth interviews (IDIs), focus groups, or even IHUTs. In order to participate in a panel in market research, members generally share a large amount of demographic data, household data, and behavioral data during the registration process which can make recruitment for future market research studies easier.


What benefits does a panel provide?

Having a readily available group of respondents presents many advantages for a company including: (1) quicker fieldwork turnaround, (2) higher participation rates, (3) and potential cost savings versus other methodologies including telephone.A panel is essentially a group of people who have already opted-in to participating in market research.


Who uses market research panels?

Market research panels are used by market research companies and other organizations to reach individuals who are interested in participating in research. Typically, there is some set up involved to work with an online research panel vendor so those without a research background are not likely to seek out these market research panel vendors themselves.

Market research companies and professionals can also create custom research panels for clients. These panels can be made up of customers, non-customers, and various other types of stakeholders. In this instance, the market research company or professionals set up the panel, work to grow the panel, house the panel database, and pull sample for clients when needed.

Check out this recent project we used a market research panel for.


How are market research panels used?

The best time to use market research panels is when market research needs to be conducted very quickly (for example under 48 hours) or when it would be too expensive to seek research participants through other means. Again, the general population participation rate is low.

If fieldwork needs to be conducted quickly there are options other than using a market research panel, but using a market research panel nearly guarantees fieldwork will be conducted quickly and on-budget.

Additionally, market research panels often have the ability to reach very specific audiences. For example, dentists living within a specific region between the ages of 35 and 55. Trying to find ways to reach a specific audience on your own like this can be more expensive than using a market research panel.


How much does using a market research panel cost?

The cost of using a market research panel all depends on the type of people you want to reach and the type of research. Typically, for a short 3 to 5 minute survey, a research panel can reach general consumers across the United States for roughly $2 to $8 per complete.

However, if you're trying to reach dentists living within a specific region between the ages of 35 to 55 and are conducting a 10 minute survey a research panel may charge upwards of $35 dollars (or more) per complete.

Since many market research panels use a point system to reward participants, they give more points or higher payouts for research that takes longer to complete. This is why keeping online surveys and other types of market research clear and concise is important not only for the participants but for clients as well.


Who can join a market research panel?

Anyone can join a general market research panel, but there are some market research panels that are specific in who they invite. For example, there are B2B only market research panels and healthcare market research panels. Others are invite-only to ensure the randomness and quality of participants.


Are there different types of panels?

There are two types of market research panels: (1) research supplier panels and (2) customer or corporate panels.


What is a Supplier Panel?

Research supplier panels are typically larger as they are made up of members from a cross-section of the B2C and B2B sectors. When you contact a research supplier panel, an incidence rate can be estimated to understand what percentage of their extensive database of panel members qualify for your study. An example of a research supplier panel would be Coca-Cola contacting the supplier and asking to conduct a competitive study on Pepsi. The supplier would be able to provide Coca-Cola with the number of Pepsi drinkers on their panel and an estimated number of completes it could provide.


What is a Corporate Panel?

Customer or corporate panels are typically made up of solely customers who purchase specific products or services, share behavioral habits, interests or other similar traits. An example of this would be a Coca-Cola panel of members willing to participate in research about Coca-Cola. A second example would be Barrett-Jackson Auction Company creating a panel of specifically made up of classic car enthusiasts, of which members would be available to participate in research studies for the organization.


Are there drawbacks to using a market research panel?

As a market research analyst who has used a variety of sources to conduct fieldwork, I will say there are a few draw backs to using a market research panel. Mainly, there is always a sense of unknown about who the respondents actually are. Panels keep this hidden purposely so the firm using the sample cannot claim the respondents for their own market research projects. It's a rental.

Also, there tends to be higher rates of speeders, straight liners, and people who fail quality checks when using a market research panel. But, market research panel vendors are typically helpful when it comes to replacing cases where respondents fail quality checks.

Learn all about market research quality checks.


How can Drive Research help you?

Drive Research is a market research company based in Syracuse, NY. Drive has a number of preferred online panel vendors it works with across the country to ensure you find the audience you need. Drive Research can also help build and customize your own in-house panel of customers for future research needs. Questions about market research panels or how Drive can assist? Contact us at info@driveresearch.com or call us at 315-303-2040.

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