Building a business case for a custom panel
10th June, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
If you read our blog regularly, the likelihood is that you already have some idea of the benefits of using custom panels to get closer to your customers – wherever they are in the world – in order to understand their views about your products and services. Without wishing to preach to the converted, we thought you might find this post a useful reference when building a business case and securing internal buy-in or budget for your panel.
Q. What are the benefits of a custom panel?
1- A direct line to your customer
With a custom panel you’ll have direct access to your customers. You’ll be able to get to know them, their needs and wants – so that you can ensure you meet these better than your competitors are doing. By choosing to communicate with them in a way that suits them, by asking them for their views and demonstrating that you listen to and value their opinions, you can help to build a strong relationship with your customers and to reinforce your brand values.
2- Cost savings
Conducting research across multiple markets using a custom panel can be much more cost efficient than other research methods. Savings of 40 to 50% are not uncommon.
3- Greater speed and efficiency
Using a panel to test concepts and products can provide you with a rapid response and the critical insight needed to inform your strategy. On the flipside, this timely information could prevent you making costly, misdirected decisions.
4- Consistency and comparison
A custom panel will enable you not only to source feedback in a fast and cost-efficient fashion, but will also allow you to collect information in a consistent way across multiple markets to provide you with comparable data and a more complete picture.
5- Improved response rates and robustness of results
With a well run panel you will enjoy higher engagement levels from panellists and improved response rates. You can also target particular panellists with information to ensure the quality of your sample and the relevance of feedback received on a particular issue. As a consequence you are guaranteed more robust results to interrogate for insights.
6- The ability to track and identify trends
You will not only be able to use your panel to understand better individual customers’ views and behaviour from the surveys they choose to complete (and those they don’t), you will also be able to repeat surveys over a period of time to track emerging trends.
7- A revolutionary business resource
Having a central resource like a panel can help to engage employees and departments in the research process and with the insight team, revolutionising the way you work and improving business performance. Research projects that wouldn’t normally be commissioned owing to timescale and cost are made possible with a panel, providing teams with the customer insights needed to make better informed decisions.
It is important to note that the cost savings, efficiencies and features you will enjoy from a custom panel are relative to the quality of your sample, which in turn impacts the robustness of the results and their benefit to your business.
You can find out more about how to run your custom panel and key business asset in our Panel Management Best Practice Guide.
Nespresso case study: A global panel in action
“In managing this programme for Nespresso, Beehive has delivered cost savings, faster delivery of projects and all without compromising the robustness of the results”
Frédéric Laforge, International Market Research Manager, Nespresso
Panel size, recruitment and incentivisation
10th May, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
In the third in our series of posts on global panel management we thought we’d look at some of the things to consider when deciding how large your panel should be, and how to recruit and incentivise participants.
Assuming you have already determined the primary use for your panel and you have identified who you want to take part in it, a key question to ask is what do you know about your target group of respondents? Do you already have information on these people that could be incorporated – e.g. recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) data, or a customer segmentation – to help inform projects, manage representation and generally assist in your approach to their recruitment and incentivisation?
Decisions around the volume of responses required per project and the frequency of projects that you intend to run need to be made early, as they will impact your panel design. You don’t want your panel to be too small to be fit for purpose, but then neither do you want it to be any larger than absolutely necessary. It is important to understand the impact that a larger panel will have both on budget and sustaining engagement levels.
Panellists like to feel engaged and there are a number of ways to incentivise people to take part and to avoid them becoming disengaged: for some regular invites to take part in an activity can be enough; but if you contact panellists too often they can suffer from over exposure or fatigue, and become disengaged.
Another good technique is to communicate openly with panellists about how their feedback is helping to shape your business, as this will make them feel that their contribution is valued. However, this alone might not be enough to keep them motivated. Do you need to consider additional incentives? If so, it’s worth remembering that what works for one market might not work for another. For example, while prize draws and sweep stakes are a fairly common way of rewarding panellists, competition laws are country specific and thus it can be difficult to implement one standard scheme across all markets.
Charitable donations are also widely used, but then you need to consider whether this is an appealing enough incentive for everyone in your target group. It is unlikely that you can use the same incentive programme in every market.
When deciding on the number of people you need to recruit to the panel you should take into account various factors including the frequency of panel use, the volume of responses required for each study and the likely response rates. Typically between 20-50% of panel participants usually respond to a panel survey, so this should give you an idea of the number of panellists you will need to ensure responses will meet volume requirements and be representative.
Nespresso case study: A global panel in action
Nespresso gives each of its panellists the choice to enter a prize draw or have it make a donation on their behalf to an Ecolaboration project that supports coffee producing communities. Read more…
Global panels – what drives engagement?
27th March, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
In our last post on ‘What do I need to consider when designing a global panel?’ we talked about the importance of being clear on your objective for your global panel and who you want to take part in it – and how these will dictate just about every other aspect of your panel. This includes the engagement levels of your panel respondents.
It is certainly easier for consumers to engage with some brands and topics over others. People are more likely to want to talk about their favourite brand of coffee than their personal finances, for example. This is likely to be the case in most countries, but engagement with a particular brand or topic could well vary according to market.
Having an emotional investment in the brand certainly helps with engagement levels. Brand loyalty, for example, not only helps to motivate panel participation but can also negate the need for more ‘explicit’ (e.g. financial) incentives to participate. Consumers tend to invest more emotionally in brands and therefore consumer panels often enjoy higher levels of engagement than B2B panels. But don’t forget that emotions are culturally specific. That means the level to which consumers emotionally invest in a brand varies by country.
The type of panel you choose to run will naturally have an impact on engagement levels as well. A panel used to run surveys won’t achieve the same level as an interactive community that allows for two-way communication between you and your respondents.
Communicating with people in their chosen language might lead to greater engagement, but this needs to be balanced with other considerations. (See our 4th March post for more on language considerations in survey design.)
Your choice of communication channels, their content and design, will also influence respondent engagement. Are you planning to have a panel website with a members’ area? Are your target respondents likely to be online? Who is going to manage and update this with interesting content? Is what you’re saying really of interest to your panel members?
Just as language is culturally specific, so too is design. Would you render the website unbranded, fully branded or create a brand especially for it? Again, your decision will come back to who you want to engage.
Nespresso case study: A global panel in action
What do I need to consider when designing a global panel?
4th March, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
Everyone has a different business or research objective for running a panel, from concept and product testing to customer feedback. Your objectives are the starting point for us at Beehive, as it influences just about every aspect of your panel including its design.
Your objectives will determine the size of your panel, and who your target audience/respondents are. The type of interaction you want to have with your respondents will influence how you mine for information and dictate the type of panel you run; this might be a straightforward quantitative panel or one of a number of more qualitative community types. The difference between these is largely to do with the extent to which you want to allow two-way communication – between you and your respondents, and between respondents.
You also need to bear in mind that the type of information you need to get to has implications for whether you can select to run the panel in English or will need to provide respondents the option of using their language of preference or residence. Some questions will have country specific answers, such as those around the availability of brands and relating to currency. Assuming you have allowed respondents the option of using their language of preference to complete the survey, you will need to consider at the panel design phase how to manage responses to questions specific to their country of residence.
How do you plan to manage respondent queries? You’ll need to answer queries quickly and preferably in the respondent’s chosen language. How you reply and the speed with which you respond will impact their perception of your brand.
What methodology should you use? Qual or quant, or a blend of both? How should you run your panel? It doesn’t necessarily need to be online, although this is usually a more efficient and cost-effective method. Focusing again on your target respondents for a moment, you need to reach out to them using their preferred channel of communication in order to keep the panel representative. If they aren’t online, then do you consider using the telephone or other channels?
Case study: A global panel in action
Nespresso challenged Beehive to come up with a global panel that would enable it to source feedback in a systematic way across 13 countries and consolidate its customer insight practices, allowing it continually to improve its performance.
Beehive Research wins ‘golden ticket’ from Goldman Sachs
21st February, 2013 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
It’s been a good start to the year and the hive is a buzz with the news that our head bee, MD Paul Kavanagh, has been awarded the rare opportunity of a place on the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses programme.
Delivered by UCL Advances, a world leading centre for entrepreneurial development at UCL, one of the top ten universities in the world, the programme is designed to help entrepreneurial small businesses unlock their potential and grow faster.
The application process was tough, to say the least. But from the hundreds of written submissions received, Beehive was one of just 60 companies called to take part in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style interview. And, we’re delighted to announce, that our business case was deemed powerful enough to secure us one of the 30 sought after places available on this prestigious programme.
To be chosen from amongst such strong competition is a fantastic accolade. This really is a golden opportunity to learn from leading business experts and to realise our growth aspirations.
There is of course a social element to the learning too, with entrepreneurs chosen from a wide range of sectors all bringing different skills and experiences to the programme. If there is one thing bees love it is networking and peer learning.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our clients, partners, friends and family for their support and helping us to achieve what we have thus far.
What is the economic climate going to be like over the next 3 years and how does that impact research?
20th December, 2012 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
Tough economic conditions since 2008
We have all experienced the tough economic conditions of the past four years and there has been much speculation as to whether things are getting better, worse or just staying the same.
For the research industry I would certainly say 2008 could have been called our ‘Annus horribilis’, to steal a quote from our Queen; non-essential budgets were in lock down; those budgets that survived were gradually culled throughout the year; Board rooms were a mass of speculation, sometimes over reaction and general panic about how to weather an obvious storm on the horizon.
Through 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, though the economy has still not been strong, we did see some improvement in the research marketplace as companies began to unlock restrictions on research budgets, however research teams now were being told to scrutinise every penny, raise tenders for jobs that previously would never have gone to a pitch situation and generally to try and squeeze as much out of already tight budgets as possible. As a research agency we now have to work 10 times harder to win a client and work 10 times harder to deliver the project on less budget. For many big agencies this has been painful because of their established overheads, greater difficulty in being flexible and the overall shrinking pot of money in the marketplace.
Noticeably with so many researchers being made redundant over this period, we have also seen a rise in the number of small agencies being set up providing a double whammy for the bigger agencies as the cake is being reduced at one end and being gnawed at from the other end.
So what is in store for the economy in 2013, 2014, 2015…. and onwards? And what will that mean for the research industry as a whole?
Recently I was at the Customer Engagement Summit in London and there were some excellent presentations. But one that I found particularly interesting was by a behavioural economist, a gentleman by the name of Roger Martin-Fagg. I don’t pretend to be able to repeat what Roger said or explain it in any way that will do it justice, but the essence of his presentation was:
- UK consumers have been paying off debt rather than spending, which effectively means money is being extinguished from the monetary system
- The world economy is slowing down rapidly led by Europe which will be in recession
- The UK will grow next year by no more than 0.5%
- Interest rates will remain at 0.5%
- House prices outside central London will continue to fall in real terms
- Wages will grow at under 2%, prices at 2.5%, so real incomes will continue to fall
- Individual businesses will only grow by taking market share. This will require superior VFM, customer service is a key component.
So what will that mean for research buyers and sellers?
In our view for research buyers it will mean more of the same:
- That companies will continue to spend on research, though perhaps the overall pot will not be getting any bigger
- They will continue to submit competitive tenders and have a very tight view on deliverables vs. cost
- They will shop around a lot and be open to new offers, new methodologies, new thinking, better value propositions
For the agency we suggest it will mean:
- We will need to be more creative and add more value to win pitches
- We need to work really hard with our existing clients and make sure they are getting real value and service
- Focus more on our strengths and specialism and be more selective in the tenders we respond to, to maximise both our return but also the time client side researchers are having to spend reviewing a higher number of proposals
It is going to be a tough 3 years ahead and research agencies and client side researchers will need all their skill to continue delivering good research on reduced budgets but for those delivering good service and good research, this should not be a problem!
Roger’s full presentation is available to clients and registered guests in the members’ area of our web site.
Relocation relocation relocation again…!
18th December, 2012 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
After two excellent years of growth Beehive’s workers finally need to fly from the old hive and move to a new one. The new colony will virtually be a small flight away; in fact two floors upwards! We will still be in the same building just a stone’s throw away from Tower Hill and Fenchurch Street Station, at 3 Lloyd’s Avenue, but in a bigger office that will allow us to house more bees.
Paul Kavanagh, Beehive’s Head Bee and MD, said “2011 was a really great year for us, as has 2012; we have tripled turnover in the last 2 years and clients keep coming back, so we believe we are doing things right. As we approach 2013 it is clear we need to expand to manage our growing client base so next year we will not only be moving at the end of February but we will also be looking at new positions within the business. We would like to thank the clients who have supported us over the past few years and we hope to welcome more new clients to our new office in 2013.”
Please make a note of our address and telephone number:
Why bees don’t make stupid decisions, and people do
5th October, 2011 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
When we observe financial meltdowns or environmental debacles, often behind each were people who exercised very poor judgment. What’s more, step back from the decisions that were made and it is easy to conclude that the decisions were suspect from the start and should have been called out at the time options were being considered. Since bees can’t afford to be wrong (since it may cost them their lives), they protect themselves against decisions that can spiral out of control in wrong-headed directions. They do this in a number of ways.
Briefly, bees avoid going off course by listening to what other bees have to say; exploring contrary facts; changing their minds when better alternatives appear; and making judgments for themselves without the undue influence of others. When bees advertise an unlikely spot to find nectar, what do the other bees do? They check the place out. Some researchers think that bees lack certain cognitive-perceptual abilities that prevent them from visiting implausible locations, but another, equally likely explanation is that bees have no reason to suspect their sisters of deceiving them. Given that all members of the hive want the same things, when a bee is advocating for something that will potentially help the colony, why not listen?
Additionally, honeybees do not prematurely close off discourse when presented with facts in opposition to their recent experiences. For example, after the bees have fully exploited the nectar of a flower patch, they abandon the patch, checking back periodically to make sure that circumstances have not changed. Later, however, they may observe a scout bee directing them back to the very place that they have previously abandoned. Still, the bees do not gaze incredulously at the scout as if to suggest, “We’ve been to that spot, and there is nothing there,” the organizational equivalent to, “We’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work.” What do they do instead? They visit the site to see for themselves, knowing that their prior assessment may no longer apply.
Bees also give up on their initial positions and yield to other, better alternatives. This ability is most striking during the bees’ swarming process. When hives get too large in numbers, they divest themselves of little less than half their members. The swarm then sends out a couple hundred scout bees to search for a new home. Most scouts return to the swarm without having found a site that satisfies minimum requirements. A dozen or so return with good news. This news is expressed through the bees’ dance language. The higher the quality of the site, the more enthusiastic the dance. The ultimate purpose of this dance is to recruit uncommitted scouts to the targeted site for a showing. Scout bees repeatedly return to their chosen sites for additional assessments, but their enthusiasm for each site declines at a relatively fixed rate with each visit. This means that bees’ attraction to lower-quality hives extinguishes first, creating the opportunity for them to find and settle on higher-quality spots. In effect, bees may abandon their initial positions and “reset” their commitment levels as they become open to new possibilities. What is most illustrative of this decision process is the trust placed in the independent assessments of evaluators. This independence prevents bad decisions from proliferating. A decision is finalized only after every bee with something to say (communicate) has said it, and the other bees have individually made their choices. The result? Bees find a new home that won’t be the death of them.
How do we apply this in research or online panels and research communities? Well, by merely having a research panel or community an organisation is already tapping into the ‘hive consensus’ and learning from their customers. By listening to the ‘buzz’ they are making enables the marketer to make more informed decisions, which is an effective way to keep bad decisions in check!
This is an extract from an article in Psychology Today by Michael O’Malley, who is a social psychologist and best-selling author of The Wisdom of the Bees.
UK’s coolest brand*, Aston Martin, selects Beehive for its global market research programme…
22nd August, 2011 - Posted by Paul Kavanagh - No Comments
Beehive started the initial phase of the programme in October 2010 which involved a group wide consultation exercise of workshops and interviews with key stakeholders. The objective was to fully understand the requirements for market intelligence across the business and to define a 3 year learning plan that could be prioritised and then implemented.
Following the presentation of the plan, Beehive’s first task was to undertake a customer understanding research project in some key territories worldwide and this has already provided some very interesting insight and customer learning which is being applied within several areas of the business.
Full contracts were signed in May and implementation of the research programme is now well underway.
Beehive managing director, Paul Kavanagh said “Aston Martin is an iconic brand and was UK’s coolest brand* last year so this is a fantastic project for us to be working on. There will be some difficult research challenges ahead but we are working with a great team, a great product and are looking forward to implementing the plan over the next 3 years.”
Beehive managed to secure the business in a competitive pitch against several other agencies. The main reasons for being chosen were because of the fresh and creative approach to Aston Martin’s specific requirements, its ideas led proposal and its value for money solutions.
Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
28th April, 2011 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
Beehive’s workers have flown the old hive and moved to new offices. The new colony has been set up just a stone’s throw away from Tower Hill and Fenchurch Street Station at 3 Lloyd’s Avenue. Not only has the building been recently refurbished in a cool, contemporary style, it also boasts a great roof terrace. So keep an eye out for a Beehive gathering later in the year, when the weather is a bit more conducive to an alfresco tipple or two.
Paul Kavanagh, Beehive’s Head Bee and MD, said “after a good end to 2010 and an even better start to 2011 we felt it was the right time to be relocating closer to our clients and establishing our ‘hive’ within the City. We look forward to welcoming our clients and prospects to our new office over the next year.”
Please make a note of our new address and telephone number:
3 Lloyd’s Avenue
Tel: +44 (0) 203 036 0551