Panel size, recruitment and incentivisation
10th May, 2013 - Posted by GreenfieldsPR - 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 GreenfieldsPR - 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 GreenfieldsPR - 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.
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.
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.
Secrets of the beehive
27th April, 2011 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
Management consultant Michael O’Malley took up beekeeping as hobby, but he soon realised that the way hives work can teach us many lessons in business. After studying their behaviour he began to understand that bees perform extremely complex tasks within their communities by working together and achieving goals.
They rely on coordination, efficiency and productivity from many different sets of workers within the hive. In short, the hive is an ever evolving organisation that often behaves in similar ways to successful businesses. Michael O’Malley recently published a book “The Wisdom of Bees” – here are some of his observations. See which ones could apply to you!
Protecting the future
Colonies do not look to maximise return in the short term. If bees find a rich vein of nectar in a given patch of flowers they don’t all rush off to mine it immediately, despite the enticing short term gains.
They also maintain their “R&D” in the form of scout bees always looking further afield for richer pickings. Opposite to most businesses, the worse conditions get, the more they invest in exploring new areas by sending more scouts.
It’s a common misconception that the queen bee does all the work and dominates all activities in the hive. In reality she delegates relentlessly, and worker bees make daily decisions based on local stimulus and requirements. The most important decisions are those made by the bees closest to the action who have the best information.
Safeguarding against destruction
Genetically diverse hives are more productive – having “different” bees enables the hive to be more sensitive to a wider range of environmental stimuli and prevents it from responding in unison to a narrow set of similar cues.
The hive can never lose essential functions otherwise it breaks down and will cease to exist. For example too few foragers or too few nurse bees to nurture the young will put the hive’s future in serious jeopardy. If something breaks down the hive has a resource of precocious “cross-trained” bees that can be fast tracked into filling the needed roles quickly.
Bees do make mistakes in that they often over-adjust to outside supply conditions. When building a comb (which is very expensive to manufacture) they under-build when nectar resources are low, but over-build when it is abundant. Interestingly though, they don’t do the opposite: over-build when times are hard or under-build in times of plenty, thus safeguarding the long term prospects of the hive.
Hives are also socially responsible organisations. When pollinating, they replenish the nectar they extract. When harvesting they don’t take all the pollen or nectar from flowers because plants recover faster when they are not completely depleted.
It would appear that everything bees do is geared toward sustaining personal well being and in doing so, the ongoing life of the hive; this is the ethos we strive to achieve at Beehive Research . The Wisdom of Bees is an interesting and entertaining guide for any manager looking to get the most out of his or her organisation . To find out more click here http://www.thewisdomofbees.com/
Add value and thought leadership
15th September, 2010 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
Only last week in one meeting we heard from one prospect that an incumbent agency was considered ‘complacent’ but they hadn’t actually been told that. In another there was serious doubt as to whether the account director who had been wheeled in at the start had even been involved in their project.
In a recent Research Magazine article by Steve Gatt, Economic and Insight Manager at Volkswagen Group, complained that most of the research he sees is ‘not up to scratch’ http://www.research-live.com/multimedia/video/volkswagens-insight-boss-on-inadequate-research/4003273.article, that reports are too long and don’t deliver. The article is interesting, as are the comments afterwards; there is certainly an argument that many agencies aren’t delivering, as borne out by the conversations we highlighted earlier, but clients do need to shoulder some responsibility too, only too often briefs are vague and ill conceived.
Perhaps being a smaller research consultancy with senior staff helps us to be more focused on adding value and it is encouraging that the ethos that we set out on day 1 at Beehive is not always shared by some agencies we compete against. Certainly some of the comments in lieu of Steve’s article suggest that smaller boutique agencies should be considered more because of the add value they can bring and this certainly rings true with many organizations we have spoken with.
Maybe the current macro economic climate is a good thing for clients and agencies alike and will force the industry to deliver added value to our customers’ and make everyone take a more strategic approach. We strongly believe the industry as a whole should be striving even harder to go that extra mile, to over deliver not under deliver and that by understanding our clients and prospects better will help us to deliver:
- A more strategic approach – one where our solutions meet with the wider context of business objectives and research requirements
- Creativity in our research solutions
- A pro-active service where Account Directors remain involved and keep clients fully informed – sounds simple but not always done
- Better advise on mitigation of risks before they arise – and not being scared to raise them at proposal stage in case it puts the client off
- Solutions that are what a client needs and not what we want to sell them
- Forward thinking and innovative methods that are selectively used to enhance the recipe
What is good today may not be good enough tomorrow and perhaps we should just strive for excellent today, that way tomorrow has to be excellent too.
It’s certainly an ethos we will continue to strive for, but we also believe clients need to take responsibility more and reward agencies that go the extra mile.
Is polling and election research better, more engaging and more robust?
14th May, 2010 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
An event like the general election epitomises the requirement for robust, insightful, relevant and rapid research in landscape that is constantly changing. It was therefore fascinating to see the ever changing pre-election polls and heartening to see the art of research during election night being applied in such a varied and engaging way. Yes the pre-election polls did get the final result wrong but were they wrong or were they actually monitoring the pulse of a nation that was so undecided. For my money it was the latter as you only had to see how the political debates impacted the mood of the nation to see the results change. Are pre-election polls a good barometer of what’s actually going to happen, perhaps not, but is that what they are really measuring? I say hats off to all the researchers involved, it was great to see not only data being presented in an interesting way, but also how research is able to deliver meaningful and understandable insight.
As researchers we can all learn from this election; we should continually strive to find more interesting ways of presenting data, to understand customer sentiment better and deliver insight to our clients in a way that really shows the ROI of good research. I still think we shouyld say well done the researchers involved and the UK research industry.
If a job’s worth doing
14th January, 2010 - Posted by Tom Raybould - No Comments
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. It’s a common and universal proverb; it’s ubiquitous and can be applied to nearly every aspect of life and business. It seems so simple to follow but sometimes doing a job well is easier said than done.
The research industry is certainly not immune to this. I am sure most people can point to at least one project that failed to match its potential or deliver its expected objectives. There are numerous possible causes for this perhaps; the project was just a token effort with insufficient budget, manpower or time (or a combination of all three); maybe there were unrealistic expectations or external pressures. The possibilities are endless.
So how do you get the most value from your research? Well it isn’t enough to just implement a research strategy; its execution requires careful planning, expertise, considered objectives (typing “SMART objectives” in your favourite search engine and you’ll find a plethora of explanations) and of course it takes effort.
But as they say “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”.