Introduction to Panel Research Part 2

Last article we started taking a look at panel research – research conducted with a small group over the course of X amount of days, months, or years, in order to understand and track changes in buying habits, behaviors, thoughts, and more. In this article, we’ll look at some of the benefits of panel research as a method of collecting data.

Benefits of Panel Research

  • Trend Data

Trends in the business world are often more important than individual statistics. For example, from a business standpoint it’s not really important if your company has a satisfaction rating of 3, 5, or 7. What matters is how that number corresponds to purchases and whether that number changes over time, especially in line with business decisions. If your business has a mean of 5 in satisfaction, and six months later it has a mean of 4, chances are something is happening that could affect the health of your business.

  • Participating

Panels are often carefully selected before becoming a part of panel research, ensuring that those selected are far more likely to respond than a random sample selected through other methods. Unlike most survey methods, this type of sample is likely to feel an obligation to respond that nearly ensures their participating, and while rarely does any company receive 100% participation in any type of survey research, depending on your sample that level is at least closer to possible.

  • Less Randomization Biases

Finally, testing the same sample over and over again makes it much less likely that you’ll have two samples whose demographics are not identical. It’s not impossible – as we’ll show later – but it’s important to remember that when you take from a random sample you can introduce differences between samples that reduce the ability to track trends. With panel research, that’s far less likely.

Overall Benefits of Panel Research

So those are the basic benefits to using panel research. You can also consider an additional benefit – fewer incentives to give out. Better incentives to 20 or 30 people will still cost less than worse incentives to a few thousand. There are certainly other cost considerations to running this type of sample, but at saving on incentives does reduce the overall cost of running your research, which could improve your ROI. Clearly panel research does have some benefits.

But as with most types of research, panel research does have its weaknesses. We’ll begin to explore these weaknesses in the next post.

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