Market Research Participants Aren’t Satisfied With the Process. What Can Be Done?

May 3, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Market Research

Slightly fewer than half of market research participants rate their satisfaction with their average experience as a top-3 box score on a 10-point scale, according to the 2017 Global Respondent Engagement Study presented by GreenBook. So what are the problems – and how can they be remedied?

First, a quick note about methodology: the survey was conducted in 15 countries and 8 languages among 6,208 consumers via a mix of online, telephone, and mobile-only surveys.

Here are 5 takeaways from the report:

1. Telephone Surveys Engender the Most Dissatisfaction

The research respondents were grouped according to the type of research in which they most frequently participate, giving a better sense of how satisfaction varies among research types.

The big outlier? Telephone surveys. In fact, an astounding 72% of respondents in this group reported dissatisfaction (1-5 on a 10-point scale) with this survey method. To put that in context, the next-most dissatisfied group was the one taking mobile surveys most frequently. Just 17.3% of that group rated the surveys that badly.

2. Survey Design Matters

The majority (55.2%) of the overall sample agreed that the design of a survey affects their willingness to complete it. In this case, design matters most to mobile survey-takers, while it has the least impact for those participating either in-person or by mail.

The analysts recommend that researchers employ “simple, intuitive, fun, and engaging mobile first designs” to satisfy mobile survey participants.

3. Time Commitment Affects Honesty for Some

More than one-quarter of the sample admitted that the time needed to complete the research affects their attention or honesty of responses, such as by rushing through a long survey without reading all the questions or response options.

That’s a worrying level of dishonesty, indeed. Where does it show up as most problematic? In phone surveys, where a depressing 46% of participants admitted to dishonesty/fatigue. This is also a problem for mobile survey-takers, more than one-third (35%) of whom reported a negative impact on the quality of their responses from the survey’s length.

So what’s the ideal length for participants’ time commitment? For more than half of the respondents, 10 minutes or fewer is ideal. In fact, fewer than one-fifth would tolerate more than 15 minutes.

Shorter time commitment is the most ideal for… you guessed it: telephone and mobile surveys.

4. What Can Be Changed?

The sample was also asked what they would like to see changed in how research is conducted. Not surprisingly, the top response regarded time commitment – relating to the duration and frequency of surveys, the number of questions, and the length of questions. This was particularly sought by those completing consumption diaries. An encouraging 56% of focus group participants, by contrast, said that nothing needs to be changed.

Phrasing and comprehensibility was the next-most desired improvement, with this again especially a problem for those completing consumption diaries.

5. Cash Incentives Rule

Financial incentives are at the heart of a majority of respondents’ reasons for participating in research. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that cash is the preferred way of receiving a reward for participating for the largest share (40%) of respondents. Virtual gift cards and prepaid cards (22%) are next, followed by redeemable points (21%).

Summing It Up

In sum, the report’s findings paint a picture of the state of market research among the people it depends upon:

  • There isn’t a high degree of satisfaction, and telephone survey-takers are the least satisfied;
  • Bad design affects research participation, and this is especially the case for mobile surveys, which should be short and easily comprehensible;
  • To avoid poor quality responses, surveys should ideally be able to be completed in 10 minutes or less, especially telephone and mobile surveys;
  • Cash, virtual cash and redeemable rewards should encourage participation in research, more so than checks, mobile minutes and other forms of incentives.

Oh, and finally, invite participants by email. Anything else is likely to annoy them.

The full report, which also contains by-country breakdowns, is available here [registration required].


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