Category Archives: Market Research

The Evolution Of The Black Superhero

What a time it is for African Americans to be represented in comic book movies, today’s most popular film genre. The ending of Avengers Endgame strongly suggests the next Captain America will be Black, while Black Panther remains the highest-grossing solo superhero movie ($1,346,913,161 globally). On the DC side, its most popular movie character is Aquaman ($1,147,761,807 globally), portrayed by a person of color (Jason Momoa) – so that has to count for something.

Does this mean African Americans are being represented fairly these days in comic book movies (or Hollywood for that matter)?

That’s a complicated question that requires a sense of context by understanding the history and evolution of the Black comic book hero. To understand this complexity, we surveyed more than 500 African Americans to gauge their perception, attitude and overall opinion, when it comes to Black superheroes. The research found that, when it comes to African American being well-represented in comic book movies, 39 percent agreed while 42 percent of the respondents disagreed. However, 80 percent of the respondents claimed they presently or have in the past read comic books. While this is a surprisingly high number, it is not odd, considering that Black Panther was a nationwide cultural phenomenon.

Yes, it’s complicated, so let’s take a historical journey to understand the Black superhero and its impact on American culture.

The First Black Superpower

African Americans appeared widely in 20th-century comic books as both sidekicks and heroes, under such brands as All-Negro Comics and Timely Comics. Yet the world wouldn’t see its first Black superhero until July 1966, in an issue of Marvel’s Fantastic Four (#52).

That was Black Panther.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, T’Challa — a.k.a “Black Panther” — wasn’t a big seller. The character, however, was broadly accepted along with other minorities in Marvel’s continual multicultural rollout throughout the decades (inclusivity and social causes were always part of Lee’s visionary marketing). What’s more, Black Panther served two important purposes, according to an article by Noel Murray in The Week:

  • Becoming a cultural icon for the burgeoning Black Power movement (and later black middle class)
  • Presenting a well-rounded character instead of a two-dimensional trope, which would set the tone for future Black and other minority characters

Three years after Black Panther’s debut, Marvel introduced Falcon (today’s new Captain America in his film version, as mentioned). DC would shortly follow suit when Kirby switched companies and created Black Racer for his series New Gods (1971), followed by the introduction of John Stewart, an architect who becomes Hal Jordan’s new backup Green Lantern (1972). (Murray explains that Stewart was far from a well-rounded character, falling into the “angry Black man” trope.)

No Black superhero starred in his own mainstream comic title until 1972 when Luke Cage debuted for Marvel in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. As for DC, its first Black superhero series was Black Lightning in 1977.

According to the Ebony/QuestionPro study, Black Panther is the most popular Black male superhero (50 percent), with Blade in second (15 percent). (Superman, the American dream archetypal image, is the African American’s favorite non-Black superhero.)

However, Black Panther (or any of the characters above) is not the highest-selling Black comic book. That achievement falls to another character whose story adds to the complex history of Black superheroes.

The Trojan Horse Superhero

According to various comic book sales statistics, Spawn is one of the best-selling comic books in history. The comic book selling more than 150 million copies is impressive on its own, but even more so considering that Spawn debuted in 1992, long after other mega-selling superheroes like Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man.

Created by Todd McFarlane for Image Comics, the character Spawn has always been an unusual figure, more of a demonic mercenary than a traditional cape crusader. What’s fascinating is that McFarlane didn’t reveal to readers that his masked antihero was African American until the series was in full swing and already a runaway success. The “content of the character” was sold first — in the form of Spawn’s origin story, personality and powers — and then his skin color was revealed to geekdom. Spawn remained hugely successful for years, even if its 1997 film adaptation was tepidly received (but it should be noted that Michael Jai White, who played Spawn, became the first African American to portray a comic book superhero in a major motion picture).

One could argue that the edgy and visceral Spawn brand would pave the way for the huge success of Westley Snipes in the Blade trilogy (grossing more than $800 million globally, an impressive feat for an R-rated franchise). If you add to this the box office success of Will Smith’s Hancock (2008) and Laurence Fishbourne’s iconic portrayal of Morpheus in The Matrix trilogy, then it’s no surprise that Black Panther would engage the interest of all races once he appeared in film.

It seems Black Panther has come full circle as both an American and Black icon – but we shall see if the Spawn film reboot with Oscar-winner Jammie Foxx can take it even higher.

Without a doubt, Black superheroes have come along way, using various means, but there is still a major problem: The Black female superhero.

Only One Storm

Despite the breakthrough and scene-stealing performances of Danai Gurira (Okoye) and Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) in Black Panther or Zazie Beetz (Domino) in Deadpool 2, Black female superheroes have been grossly underrepresented in all mediums.

The most recognized and popular female Black superhero would be the Kenyan Ororo Munroe as Storm. She was part of a wider Black superhero rollout in the late 70s and early 80s that included Cyborg, Deathlok, and Blade — even becoming the eventual leader of the X-Men. As far as the successful X-Men film franchise, both Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp’s portrayals of Storm have been received with mixed results.

Results from our study shows that Storm is easily the most popular black female superhero (47 percent), followed by Bumblebee (seven percent), Nubia (six percent), and Vixen (six percent). If you include all other Black female superheroes ever created for comic books, only Storm has appeared in a movie adaptation (please don’t make me admit that Cat Woman was ever made). There are no plans for a Nakia or Domino origin-story film – although Jurnee Smollett-Bell will be playing Black Canary in DC’s upcoming Birds of Prey.

In short and for the most part, Black female superheroes are still stuck somewhere in the early 60s when it comes to wide representation.

Mirror, mirror on the Black wall

Black superheroes were a reaction and action to their specific eras – a reflection of African American culture and struggles, as well as a looking glass into hopeful futures.

Black Panther appeared in a time of turmoil and civil rights battles, followed by other gritty characters like the urban Luke Cage. The principled but disabled Cyborg and the immigrant, mutant Storm are apt representations of African Americans during the Reagan Era – with Spawn as the culmination in the early 90s as a wrathful force against an oppressive society (remember the Los Angeles and St. Petersburg riots?). Blade can be seen as the African American fight against the vampiric forces of police brutality and mass incarceration during the Bush and Clinton presidencies. Black Panther in his film incarnation is the return of 60s activism in the #BlackLivesMatter era, as well as the symbol of what is best and noble in African Americans.

Beyond this Jungian speculation, one must admit Black superheroes have been successful in terms of comic book and movie ticket sales. The dollars made by Spawn, Blade, and Black Panther don’t lie. The path has been uneven and even murky, but it has certainly created role models and epic stories that cut across all demographics.

But there is much ground to be made (especially with Black women). The success of African Americans in comic book movies has not bled into the perception Blacks have of Hollywood’s portrayal of them. As illustrations, the study further found that:

  • 83 percent of respondents agree African Americans are stereotyped in film or television
  • 59 percent of respondents agree that African Americans are cast for no other reason but to add diversity
  • 71 percent agree that African Americans get killed off more/earlier than other characters

There is no cape crusader coming to change this, but there is the creativity of writers and artists who take risks to capture the zeitgeist of our culture, imperfectly bringing hope to one Black child’s imagination at a time.

The State Of “Things” In America

A new syndicated study from EBONY/QuestionPro considers whether African-Americans today feel as hopeless as slaves heading to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade.

In Neil Gaiman’s television adaptation of American Gods, African deity Anansi (played by Orlando Jones) appears to a group of slaves heading to the New World on a Dutch ship. Dressed in a flashy modern suit, he explains to the chained and terrified group that what lies ahead for them and their descendants are centuries of pain, exploitation and oppression. The best the captured Africans can do is overthrow the Dutch slavers while on the open ocean, even if it will mean the destruction of the ship and their certain deaths. The slaves’ only hope, the deity stresses, is a heroic act of ultimate rebellion.

Fast-forward to 2019 in the (alleged) real world. Is hope as dead for Blacks in this country today as it was for the slaves in American Gods during colonial times?

The EBONY/QuestionPro survey was conducted the last week of December 2018. The respondents were 700 adult African-Americans across all economic and education demographics, with a 56-to44 percent female-male gender split. Findings include:

When it comes to economic issues, most African-Americans (56 percent) feel their household finances are the same as they were a year ago; 30 percent believe their economic situations will improve in the next year. As far as the overall American economy, almost half (40 percent) of participants believe it will get worse in 2019.

It’s The Economy, Stupid

As the era of President Donald Trump spread its sails, African-Americans are far less enthusiastic about their present conditions.

Most respondents feel Black communities are losing ground on these issues:

  • Addressing racial problems (58 percent)
  • Providing access to quality healthcare (50 percent)
  • Narrowing the gap between rich and poor (57 percent)
  • Reducing poverty, hunger, and the homelessness (51 percent)
  • Improving immigration policies (56 percent)

When it comes to overall race relations, the results are somewhat surprising, especially when one considers the recent rise of White nationalism and populism across the country. Not much more than half (58 percent) of respondents state that current race relations in the USA are bad/somewhat bad; 22 percent claim they are neither good nor bad; and 20 percent say they are somewhat good/very good.

As the adage goes, “It’s the economy, stupid.” According to the study, the top four priorities for African-Americans are:

  • Tax cuts and tax reforms
  • Race relations and civil rights
  • The economy and jobs
  • Immigration

According to another adage, “People vote their wallets and not their hearts.” This could mean mixed results in 2020 for Democrats, who have traditionally depended on a strong Black vote, if it proves to hold true.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Without a doubt, these are turbulent times for African-Americans. Then again, many may question when since our ancestors arrived on these shores there haven’t been turbulent times for African-Americans.

When asked about New Year’s resolutions, African-Americans seem to be highly committed. Only 40 percent of those surveyed say they kept one or more of their 2018 resolutions. With regard to personal improvement in 2019,  the top priorities of those surveyed are:

  • Eat better
  • Save money
  • Exercise more
  • Focus more on self-care (e.g., getting more sleep, reducing stress)

Focusing more on self-care may become a higher priority in 2019 if the economy and immigration reform falter, but under any cirumstances, here’s to a better diet!

“Keep Hope Alive!”

At the 1988 Democratic Convention, presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, Sr. said the following:

“You must not surrender. You may or may not get there, but just know that you’re qualified and hold on and hold out. We must never surrender. America will get better and better. Keep hope alive!”

Today, according to the EBONY survey, a considerable number of African-Americans agree with that statement: Forty percent of respondents state they are optimistic when it comes to the future of the United States; only 34percent are pessimistic. Moreover, a robust 69 percent of survey respondents indicate they are somewhat satisfied/very satisfied with their overall quality of life.

Despite all our issues, hope, it seems, is alive and well.

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Changes For the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

The U.S. packaged foods industry is a $378 billion year industry, and it is facing changes in the upcoming year, particularly in the packaged foods sector. Consumers today are turning away from the mass-produced pantry staples of national packaged brands and turning to healthier, local and more “authentic” food.

Large packaged foods companies like Kraft, Kellogg and ConAgra, have reported a decline in sales, as consumers are moving towards fresher options. Kellogg saw a 5.7% decline in the breakfast foods category, which makes sense as breakfast routines are changing. Kellogg’s Special K brand was created with calorie-counters in mind. Now that the diet trend has shifted to low carb/protein, Special K is losing traction with consumers. Instead of carb heavy cereals like Kellogg’s Special K, consumers are seeking on-the-go options like Greek yogurt and protein bars. Kraft also saw a decline in sales of their Mac & Cheese and Velveeta products, explaining this reflects changes in consumer preferences.

As more consumers focus on sugar as a primary source of unnecessary calories and connect it to unwanted weight gain, brands will need to re-engage shoppers with more nutritious options. Many packaged food companies are working to reduce ingredients like sodium, sugars and fats, and are making commitments to remove “unnecessary” calories out of their products. A recent study found that 71% of consumers read the sugar content on ingredient labels, and 46% strongly want to reduce their consumption of sugar. Manufacturers are trying to win back sugar-conscious consumers by highlighting the reduced amount of sugar in their products. The number of products launched with a ‘low/no/reduced sugar’ claim increased 45% in 2017 compared to five years ago. Another tactic packaged foods companies are using is to switch the type of sweetener used or substitute with one perceived as healthier. The number of products carrying a ‘no artificial sweeteners’ claim has increased 4.4% from a year ago, and products with ‘no added sugar’ claims are up 2.6%.

Regardless of their chosen strategy, manufacturers need to re-engage consumers with more nutritious options if they want to preserve their place in the market.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. QuestionPro Audience has been instrumental in product development and brand positioning for many partners, including CVS, Walgreens, Microsoft, among many others. Contact us for your next research project: sample-projects@questionpro.com.   

The Top 5 Infographics of October

October was a great month for data and research. We scoured the internet to create our top 5 infographics list for the month of October. They vary from climate change to food trends for 2019. Enjoy!

1 — TOP CULINARY AND COCKTAIL TRENDS FOR 2019

Foodies, take notice! 2019 is the year for African, Israeli and Japanese infusion. Vegan and raw foods will take precedence over the pork belly trend of 2018. For the drinkers, Aperol frose looks to be the front runner for summer 2019. All in all, I’m looking forward to eating my way through 2019.

 

2 — 21 MUST HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS EVERY MARKETER NEEDS

This next infographic is for every social media marketer. Content is king in marketing right now, and it can become overwhelming to deal with the day to day social media tasks. Post Planner put together a list of 21 tools to help marketers shoulder their social media burden.

 

3 — AMERICA’S DREAM JOB

Only 2% of all Americans say they’re currently at their dream job, according to MidAmerica Nazarene University. They recently surveyed 2,000 Americans and asked them everything about their perfect dream job, from salary to location, industry, perks and more.

 

 

4 —WHY FARMERS ARE IDEALLY POSITIONED TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is a very real thing that affects everyone. Scientists say that without significant changes, farming’s global warming footprint will grow rapidly in the next few decades. This infographic shows how farmers can make a change.

 

 

5 — WHY WELCOME EMAILS ARE IMPORTANT

According to Invespcro, welcome emails are so important that they result in four times more open rates and five times more clicks than regular email marketing campaigns and the average open rate for welcome emails is 50%, which makes them 86% more effective than standard newsletters.

 

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research.

Halloween By The Numbers

Happy Halloween! Halloween is the spookiest time of year, when children, adults and pets alike can dress up and get treats from their neighbors. We broke down the most popular treats, who will be dressing up, and other fun facts about Halloween.

Insight for the Pet Food Industry

It’s no secret that the pet food industry is booming, and will continue to grow in 2019 due to two important factors: humanization and premiumization.

Pet owners are already buying the amount of pet food they need, so the quantity can’t go up. Instead, growth is due to pet owners buying the best products for their pets. Premium pet food sales are continuing to increase, whereas other areas are seeing drops in growth. A recent report from Euromonitor International found that in 2017 premium dog and cat food sales made up more of total value sales than economy and mid-priced sales combined.

As pet owners in the U.S., perhaps more than in any other country, treat their pets as integral members of their families, the price they are willing to pay for their beloved’s care has gone up. Dog food sales grew 8% between 2012-17 to reach $11.8 billion, while cat food sales increased 11% to reach $6.83 billion during that period. Snacking is no longer a bad habit for humans; 1 in 11 pet owners say they feed their pet toppers such as sauce and gravy as a snack, and 75% of pet owners say that treats are their way of showing their pet love.

With so much money at stake, it is more important than ever for pet food companies to conduct market research, so they can gain insight from veterinarians about the needs of pet owners.

QuestionPro Audience has the largest veterinarian panel in the U.S., which consists of more than 40,000 highly engaged, pre-screened veterinarians who provide critical insights. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients.

One Brand That Used Market Research to Crush the Competition

I’m going to let you in on a deep, dark secret: there are still companies who do not conduct market research. They actually launch new products without having the research to back up their assumptions. Now, don’t ask me to try to explain their rationale, as it it far too crazy for me to comprehend, but I can say with confidence that I’m fairly certain these companies aren’t growing by leaps and bounds. Now for a company who does use market research.

Nest was co-founded by former Apple employees, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. The first Nest product was a home thermostat, which they chose after conducting market research. Upon doing research, Fadell said,

Wait a second. There’s a quarter of a million thermostats in the U.S. alone? Well, if there’s that, what’s the replacement rate?” And I looked and it was over 10 million a year for just residential and light commercial thermostats. I was like, “Wait a second. 10 million? That’s more than game machines! That’s more than washers, dryers, stoves, and ovens. That’s a big market.

Secondly, he found that 70% of thermostats were sold through wholesale, and weren’t being designed for people to use. They were being designed for installers to install and sell. It had nothing to do with the consumer’s needs. Had he not conducted market research, he may have launched a product that didn’t fill a void in the market.

From thermostats on, Nest has become a company that reinvents home products with the consumer’s needs in mind. To gain insight into the consumer’s mind, the company uses surveys to conduct market research. Their surveys include questions about how their current products function, and what they would like changed in order to improve the product. By giving consumers the opportunity to give their feedback, Nest can tailor their products to the consumer’s needs and wants. For example, one question they have asked their customers is “how high is your ceiling?”, in order to get an average by which they could use for their future products.

One month after Nest’s thermostat release, it was sold out in their online store. Three years later, in 2014, Google bought the company for $3.2 billion. Before Nest, I think most homeowners would be hard pressed to tell you the name of the company that manufactured their thermostats. Now, the brand is a household name synonymous with smart home and AI. All due to a little market research.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research.

The Best Infographics of September

September may have gone by in the blink of an eye, but we can still learn something interesting from it. We’ve compiled the top 5 infographics, with a wide variety of topics. From quitting jobs to medicinal drugs, these infographics are sure to capture your attention and teach you a thing or two.

1 — 8 ENTREPRENEURS WHO STARTED LATE AND FOUND SUCCESS

Everyone has some variation of this internal dialogue: “By the age of __, I will have done __”. Feeling like you’ve wasted your time, and are too old to start over, career-wise? Take a gander at this infographic, and check out these 8 entrepreneurs who started late in life and accomplished impressive feats. Then, get out there and start accomplishing your goals!

2 — HOW TO QUIT YOUR JOB (WITHOUT BURNING BRIDGES)

You may be ready to move onto the next job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out with grace.  This infographic gives great advice, so you can use your current boss as a reference for years to come.

 

 

3 — HOW TO SAY CHEERS AROUND THE WORLD

This fun infographic teaches you how to say cheers in 33 different languages. This is a party trick you’ll want up your sleeve!

 

 

 

4 — THE BUSINESS OF HEALING WITH CBD

CBD, or cannabidoil, doesn’t contain THC, so it won’t get a person high. What is does do, however, is treats pain, anxiety, depression, immune issues and more. CBD is a $1 billion industry, and sales are expected to grow to $22 billion by 2022. Learn more about CBD by checking out this infographic.

5 — AMERICANS’ VIEWS ON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Teachers play such an integral role in shaping the future generation’s minds, yet 66% of Americans feel we underpay them. For the 17th year in a row, American say the biggest problem facing local schools is the lack of financial support. This infographic is an eye-opener.

 

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 5 million active consumer respondents, who are pre-screened and qualified candidates for high-quality data collection. Our Consumer Panel is carefully recruited to target all type of users, but also taking into consideration certain key industry trends, such as online store preference, physical store preference, actual systems, reasons to purchase, etc. With industry knowledge, innovative tools, and purchasing power, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research.

Online Surveys Are Changing Market Research

Market research is necessary for a business to learn and grow. But many businesses push off conducting research due to budgetary restraints and feel there are more pressing areas to invest in than research, which is a mistake.

In a recent study conducted by market research firm, Attest, 26% of businesses surveyed said they do not gauge the market before launching a new product or service. 16% said market research is too time consuming, 35% claimed market research was irrelevant to their business, and 21% said they cannot afford it. Only 11% said their business is performing well without it.

ONLINE MARKET RESEARCH FOR THE WIN

Online surveys are one of the most popular ways to gather data in market research today for good reason. Phone interviews and in-person focus groups are time-consuming and costly. Like many things, with the invention of the mobile phone, these other ways of conducting market research have become antiquated and outdated. With online surveys, panelists in different parts of the country and world can share their feedback on any product, service, or business, with quick turnaround time. Results of an online survey can be monitored and analyzed within a few hours of the completion. Additionally, traditionally hard-to-reach audiences can be targeted and reached promptly, due to the internet’s wide reach.

One company who values online market research? Apple—ever heard of them? Apple uses market research to find out exactly what their customers want from their devices, then take that information to create the product. Their “Apple Customer Pulse” is a great example of market research success. The Apple Customer Pulse research group uses online surveys in order to compile and analyze data faster. In today’s “go, go, go” atmosphere, few people have the time or desire to participate in off-site focus groups or tedious phone interviews. People like to be able to multitask, which online surveys allow them to do. The Apple Customer Pulse online surveys are easy to administer, and require little to no effort for the respondents to complete, making it appealing to both the consumer and business.

Conducting market research can provide your business with insightful information about your market, product, audience, competition, among other pertinent information. By having research to backup your decisions, you can optimize your decisions and minimize your risk.

QuestionPro provides our customers with an advantage when conducting market research in the mobile world with our mobile app, MyPinion. MyPinion is the fastest market research tool that allows mobile users to provide critical insights to leading brands by participating in short surveys. With our mobile panel of more than 250,000 active smartphone users around the United States, you are able to get thousands of responses within minutes with the highest respondent engagement. Our respondents are pre-screened and highly qualified to participate in a variety of research studies of any level of specificity.

Why We Need More Respect and Empathy in Market Research

We use many words to describe those who answer our sometimes-tedious surveys: “respondents”, “participants”, “subjects”, etc. As some have noted, how about using “people”? Then maybe we’d empathize better with them for what we are asking them to do, as Rudley Raphael very eloquently argues in his article. It’s the right thing to do – give them a better experience, and we’ll get better information back.

The passing of Aretha Franklin last month got me back to her glorious music. Many of her songs informed my youth as they did culture, for the better.

Of course, the liberation-anthem “Respect” received the repeat button treatment on my streaming device, even at work. It’s such a transcendent song about how we often marginalize and take for granted those who bring positive results to our lives.

Happens all the time. Happens in market research. In my view, there is a lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for online participants from many market researchers. Annie Petit, a well-respected research practitioner and a strong advocate for research participants said to me recently, “It’s very easy for researchers to have unrealistic expectations of participants.”

To Annie, between a lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T and a lack of understanding of online audiences, a somewhat sneering attitude continues to grow. This had led to a wide range of criticisms — from online participant dependability to their capabilities for valuable information to any need for incentives.

With just a bit more appreciation and knowledge of online research participants, we can leverage their insights for more accurate data in studies. And be more professional.

The expertise of online research panelists

In short, an online panel is a community of research participants who share specific characteristics in common; e.g., general consumers, IT decision-makers, beer-drinkers, etc. They provide their opinion to research questions that fall into their area of knowledge.

Without a doubt, online research panelists are experts in their field or interest — and experts should be consulted for their expertise, right? They are thought-leaders, in essence, audiences that might understand your products or industry better than anyone. What’s critical is creating a well-chosen, well-developed, and highly-engaged community of these experts for online research purposes.

The process of developing an online research panel involves collecting and storing critical profile data from each member of the panel. This includes demographic, psychographic, lifestyle, employment, and household decision-making responsibilities — information that is critical when targeting and qualifying panelists to participate in a survey.

As an illustration, if Whole Foods is looking for a reaction from mothers, ages 20-25, on a new product for toddlers, they’re going into the proverbial “belly of the beast.” These moms are the real experts for specific market research, their feedback above that of pediatricians, food executives, or internet influencers.

The reality is this: whether it’s young moms in a study or Bill Gates at a tech conference, thought leaders typically provide quality data because they have skin in the game.

But what about those dang incentives?

Critics have disparaged the effectiveness of rewards for online panels. They should offer some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Recent studies have shown that incentives do improve survey data quality. What’s more, Market Research Association presented these benefits of survey incentives:

-Overall enhancement of response rates

-Improved response rates from hard-to-reach groups

-Increase efficiency, especially when it comes to non-response follow-ups

It’s important to know that incentives are not bribes. They are based on the social exchange model, which states that positive social behavior is the result of an exchange process, and this maximize benefits and minimize costs. Also, time is the most valuable commodity in many demographics, so incentives help reduce bias or hurried responses.

As Annie said concerning this issue:

“Market researchers need to switch places with research participants and remember what it’s like to be a consumer with a career, family, and personal responsibilities. The token gifts we offer do not compensate for the 30 minutes they can’t spend with their kids or watching Netflix, and those gifts certainly don’t match the hourly rates people earn at their jobs. We need to respect the fact that people freely offer us the best possible information they can within the limits of the quality of the questionnaire we give them and the attention they are able to make available to us. We need to be grateful for the time and expertise they shared with us. It is a gift.”

Many research practitioners agree with this comment, including Jump Associates VP of Strategy and Insights Kathleen Boyse, who contends that empathy is essential for research departments to gain quality data.

Show, don’t tell

Words are just words, and the proof should be in the pudding… the data pudding.

Take Home Depot, for example. The company generated more than $100 billion in revenue in 2017. One-third of this revenue comes from equipment rentals and other purchases made by building professionals. To remain competitive and continue growing revenue, the company continually relies on incentivizing online participants.

A recent study revealed that most of Home Depot’s audience are building professionals and small contractors — with no more than five employees and less than $500,000 in annual revenue. This demographic finds product availability and price as its top concerns. By continually tapping into its online building professionals and general contractor panels — specifically the sample that makes daily decisions on tools and building materials — Home Depot is continuously able to gain fresh insights. Keen research has been a part of the company’s incredible growth in recent years.

What’s more, brands like Home Depot gain other benefits of online participants:

-Ability to reach demographics across a broader geography

-Faster data recovery

-Features that permit customization of the respondent experience

Again, these experts or thought-leaders that need to be well-developed and engaged (and this may include some reward).

For this type of effective online sample, it takes the right online sample provider— one with its own expertise, empathy, and plenty of that R-E-S-P-E-C-T. When the right provider meets the right experts, the results are better data that leads to improved services and superior products, whether it’s for toddlers or general contractors, or anyone in between.

QuestionPro Audience provides its clients access to millions of research participants who are pre-screened and highly qualified to participate in a variety of research initiatives of any level of specificity. We have more than 10 specialty panels developed and managed in-house, including veterinarians, pet owners, millennials, physicians, and over 20 years of industry experience in research and data collection.