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Market research buyers and clients are pessimistic about the future of sample quality, according to the Q1-Q2 2018 edition of the Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report. In fact, buyers are twice as likely to believe that sample quality will worsen (38%) than improve (19%) over the next 3 years, per the report. (This may be why the industry is starting to shift away from asking questions and instead analyzing passively-collected data such as social media data.)

Studies have indicated that the market research industry is facing challenges: participants aren’t satisfied with the process, and survey cooperation rates have been plunging.

It is worth noting, though, that research suggests that low response rates do not necessarily impact the quality of the research conducted. However, they do cause suppliers to have to devote more resources to obtaining appropriate sample sizes.

Nonetheless, there’s general skepticism surrounding the future of sample quality not only from buyers, but from insights suppliers too.

The GRIT report identifies several ways in which the industry can address sample quality. There’s broad agreement among suppliers (82%), buyers/clients (85%) and sample/panel providers (73%) that sample providers should advise on whether their samples are representative of a target population.

These various groups are also largely in agreement that sample providers should provide more in-depth profiling and append-able data so surveys can be made shorter and not have to always ask the same questions.

Interestingly, a majority of respondents – including 56% of buyers – feel that it’s reasonable to introduce minimum payments to respondents to protect the ongoing supply of sample to the industry. Indeed, research from Gallup has demonstrated that a $5 incentive goes a long way in boosting online survey response rates.

There are a couple of initiatives on which sample providers and insights buyers disagree – and they relate to mobile-friendliness. As mobile-first surveys grow into the mainstream, fully three-quarters of sample/panel providers feel that it would be reasonable for them to charge more for surveys that are not mobile friendly. Insights buyers are much less likely to agree, as fewer than one-third (31%) concur with sample providers on this topic.

Likewise, 6 in 10 sample providers feel that it would be reasonable for panel providers to restrict to only allow device-agnostic or mobile-optimized surveys, unless specific device features are part of the study design. Fewer than half (48%) of insights buyers agree.

The report’s analysts note that attitudes towards these initiatives are largely unchanged from last year with one exception: there’s more agreement this year that providers should charge more for surveys that aren’t mobile-friendly.

About the Data: The GRIT report data is based on 3,930 completed interviews with insights buyers/clients (25% share) and insights providers/suppliers (75%). Respondents hailed from various industries and company sizes, with the North America and Europe regions most heavily represented.

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