Uses and misuses of online-Survey Panels in Digital Research

With the use of internet, it is more cost-effective for market researchers to recruit their respondents and conduct surveys. In spite of the widespread use of online-survey, the quality of the result is always questioned. The following paragraphs will analysis the advantages and disadvantages of using online survey in digital research.
In online survey, probability sampling is not used to recruit online panels. Online surveys often recruit people from online advertisements or invitations at web sites specifically built to recruit consumers to join survey panel and complete surveys. Although many researchers do not believe Internet bias is an issue in their research, some researchers argue that it may lead to erroneous conclusions in terms of digital behaviour when measuring some specific items. Online survey has some disadvantages to measure cross-platform and cross-channel behaviours. First, the result may not be inaccurate when using online survey measure consumer engagement in a cross-platform world. For instance, it is not appropriate to ask online-survey respondents to estimate their time spent online and the time spent watching television. There will be huge errors in the result. It is mainly due to the two reasons. Firstly, some respondents may have trouble to recall how they spend their time accurately. Another reason is those respondents may spend more time on Internet compared with other people. Due to the same reasons, it also causes huge bias in measuring customers’ online spending behaviours by using online survey. In that case, skews of respondents’ online behaviours and recall errors are mainly responsible for the inaccurate of the result of online survey.
In spite of the disadvantages, online surveys can also provide good result if using it in an appropriate way. It is suitable to measure the impact of digital advertising campaign, the drivers of digital consumer behaviors, the satisfaction of a website, and visitor and non-buyer analysis.

Despite online survey is widely used nowadays, it is still necessary for the market researchers to take the shortcoming of using online survey into consideration when they conducting a digital research.


FULGONI, G 2014, ‘Uses and Misuses of Online-Survey Panels in Digital Research’, Journal Of Advertising Research, 54, 2, pp. 133-137, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 1 May 2015.


Transition to Insights

Can a grass roots approach to marketing research provide better insights than big data? The big data approach to market research can be seen as:

  • Impersonal
  • In some instances unethical
  • Expensive; and
  • Resulting in large amounts of data, but not necessarily big insights

According to Bhasin (2011) grass roots marketing research can be very powerful and relies on strong customer relationships. Further, there are a number of benefits to a grass roots approach including:

  • Personalisation
  • Avoiding extensive media clutter
  • Focusing on what’s relevant; and
  • Direct engagement with your customer

Interestingly, Archibald, Murphy and Powers (2015) identify the number one trend in market research to be a ‘Transition to Insights’ as more and more people require actual insights from market research data rather than simply the data itself. Not only are marketers wanting access to insights instead of raw data there is an expectation that these insights will translate to improved decision making capability of the business (Archibald, Murphy and Powers, 2015).

So if the demand is for better insights:

  • Is there are place for both big data and grass roots style market research?
  • How can we provide better insights from each of these approaches?

Why do it yourself when you can outsource it?


Ah yes marketing research…Let’s see to get started I will need a sales & marketing manager, a team of marketing specialists, let’s say a marketing communications specialist, coordinator, digital specialist, an analyst or two and maybe a graduate to throw in the mix. Wow that’s a few chicken in the hen. Hmm, I’ll need to develop specialist surveys, have focus group facilities available, maybe hire a coordinator for day, a bunch of software, a big database, hmm I’ll have to chat to my IT guys, make sure they have servers and stuff available. Okay, I think that should be enough? Okay I’m be a little critical of marketing research and what it requires in-house and perhaps over the top depending on the size and attitude of the business in question, but let’s consider the advantages in having marketing research outsourced (and I am sure that many comments to this post will outlay the disadvantages also).

Mature practices

Outsourcing gets you exactly that, clever companies that outsource research processes are getting experts in this field. Letting the experts do what know they best leaves your now less complicated in-house marketing team to focus on what they do best like thinking cool stuff up and working on the next best advert to show off those pretty smart watches everyone has been dreaming about. What you really get is experience, rinse and repeat processes, added value and faster response and return to market. Cost is obviously a big factor here and yes that is up for debate but that is not something I am focusing much on at the moment.

Let’s get efficient

More efficient, more production, less effort, more time and less expense. Have I got that combination right? well you get the picture anyway, even if not exactly in that order. Outsourcing research helps move a project forward, its extends the barriers of the physical boundaries and business capabilities in terms of technology, diversified talents, data acquisition, authentic information, quality reporting metrics and delivered on time next to your Monday morning 8.30am coffee cup.

Let’s consider how many companies these days change products, change direction, introduce new products, pull products off the shelf, reshape marketing efforts, re-target, re-position etc.. This all comes down to consistent and continuous marketing research. How time consuming and expensive is this really going to be if all we do is sell a bag of popcorn that you heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and it still comes out burnt?

A link to read if you have time.

“The more you let go, the more you grow”

If you were running your own business or equally a chief executive, would you consider the option to outsource marketing research? or would you be equally confident in your marketing department?

What other advantages can you think of to outsource research?

And most importantly do you buy microwave popcorn?

The importance of market research for sustainability and ethics

I read a very interesting article from Australian Food News ( about growing market trends according to research from The Nielsen Company. The research found that the population of Australia with migrants born in Asia, could increase to a rise of 21 percent by 2050 (based on research and trends in 2010).


This is a massive increase and would suggest that over 1-5 people living in Australia are of Asian background. This would have huge implications on a large variety of industries.

Bringing us forward to the current year ,2015, another article by Mark Dingley discusses market trends in the Australian manufacturing industry.

Asia is really shaking up Australian manufacturers (as we’ve reported before). There are some massive opportunities out there to export more to, and meet the demand of, Australia’s quality produce, and it was clear at AUSPACK that manufacturers are willing to do what it takes to get the advantage. For some, this means launching new products especially for export to the Asian market. For others – especially those in the dairy industry – this means ramping up production to meet the growing demand. These opportunities also bring challenges: How do you scale production sustainably? What is required to meet the hygiene and quality standards for export?

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I find the first question about sustainability really intriguing. From my other research I have found many fashion brands such as Puma, Zara and Adidas are trying to improve their business procedures in terms of sustainability. Many businesses seem to be trying to improve how they go about business from design to end product delivery. I believe many consumers these days want to know where the products they are buying are sourced from and that those they are in exchange with are performing both ethically and morally sound. For example, a 2014 online article from Farm Weekly mentioned:

Demand for free-range eggs has jumped more than 15 per cent in the past five years and now accounts for one in every five eggs produced in Australia.



Consumers I feel are becoming more conscious of the impact that they can create on business with the concept of supply and demand. I believe these sorts of examples iterate just how important market research is for companies to be on top of their game, especially in saturated markets such as FMCG or fashion retail. Businesses need to be aware of how consumers use their products and what drives them to use their product or certain types of products.

As another example of a ripe topic on business ethics is dominate tech company Apple. There has been much media exposure to the conditions of workers at Apple factories in China. A article reported…

Last year, concerns were raised over worker conditions at Apple factories in China, following an investigation by China Labor Watch. As reported by The New York Times, the workers’ rights group accused the company of not enforcing compliance with occupational health and safety regulations at Apple supplier factories across China. Locked fire exits, absence of safety training, significant overtime, and flammable substances found on the floors of factories were some of the hazards identified through China Labor Watch’s inquiry.



These types of issues bring up debate and I’d like to put forward a questions… 

  • Should businesses be conducting more market research on the importance of sustainability to their consumers? OR should businesses simply invest money into providing more sustainable production, rather than researching the topics relevance to it’s consumers?
  • Do you personally tend to give much importance on where your product been sourced from or where it was produced?

Low cost method of marketing research

Marketing research is described as information collecting activities. It is important to inform organisations and managers on issues such as the effectiveness of advertising programs (promotion), the appropriateness of the pricing (pricing), the new good or service success (product adoption), the appropriateness of distribution (place) and the consumer decision-making processes (consumers). Marketing research helps managers to keep up with all the changes taking place in their markets so they can meet the needs of customers.

Marketing research has become increasingly complex and sophisticated in terms of the techniques and methods applied. Nevertheless, a manager should know the steps involved in a project, which are referred to as ‘the marketing research process.’

The marketing research process

Step 1: Define the problem, the decision alternatives and the research objectives

Step 2: Develop the research plan

Step 3: Collect the information

Step 4: Analyze the data

Step 5: Present the findings (The research report)

In step 2 the marketing managers decide the most appropriate and efficient way to gather the data, and to develop an appropriate budget to meet the research objectives. In this step budget would be consider. Which is the focus group and approach both affect the budget.

For qualitative approaches, the only way is observational research. For quantitative approaches, there are survey research, descriptive research and experimental or causal research.

In step 4 research should edit, code, tabulate, analysis and interpret the data which had been collect.

Step 3 is what we care in this blog, using which methods of contact customers. There are three methods for outside information. They are telephone research, online marketing research and interview. In these three, internet research is obviously cost less. And it also have other advantages, like no limited time period, data collected easily, objective and interviewer effects ban be controlled.

Besides outside information, companies also have internal records. It is also not cost too much. Companies generate a lot of information from accounting systems, budget systems, manufacturing schedules, etc. With the growth of management information systems, and the relative low cost of data, there is no excuse for organizations not being able to deliver information to managers. Although some data may need to be reprocessed into a form to suit a particular manager, the collection and distribution of information from internal records is relatively inexpensive.


For several decades a small group of researchers has recognized that history can make important contributions to the understanding of marketing and consumer activities. Preeminent among this band has been Stanley Hollander. In the past 30 years Hollander produced numerous works that examine such diverse topics as the evolution of retail organizations, repression of traveling salesmen in the United States during the 19th century (1964), the history of consumerism and retailing, the historical dimensions of the service, and historians’ views of consumption (1986).

The reasons for the lack of enthusiasm shown to history have been outlined by Ronald Savitt (1980). While urging marketers to give greater consideration to the role of history in their discipline, he recognized that most marketers favor research based on the operationalization of constructs and on the testing of explicit hypotheses. As a consequence, he argued, they are naturally ill at ease with the majority of historians, who write within the framework of a narrative structure and construct their theses inductively rather than deductively.

Marketing and consumer researchers who have turned to history have readily accepted the importance of understanding the development over time of marketing institutions and consumer behaviors. Many of the papers offered at the Michigan State and ACR conferences have presented brief studies of marketers or marketing practices from earlier eras. Others have sought to acquaint researchers with unfamiliar data sources that might prove useful in reconstructing the histories of certain contemporary marketing practices. And following an investigation using traditional historical methodology, Fullerton (1988) has raised serious questions about the widely-accepted scheme of periodization that divides the business history of the last 100 years into the Production, Sales, and Marketing Eras.

Accepting contemporary theory structures as givens is a risky business for marketing and consumer researchers. By overlooking the evolution of those operating assumptions and the social conditions that have nurtured them, those scholars may base their analyses on what may prove to he unstable and transient foundations. They might be wise to examine more closely the larger issues behind the problems for which they are asked to provide understanding and strategies. In that endeavor, history can be a valuable ally.

PUMA – Creatively engaging with the consumer

According to Puma’s research, at least half of online consumers are multichannel shoppers, meaning that they go both online and in stores to make purchasing decisions, says Remi Carlioz, Puma’s newly installed senior head of digital marketing. Mobile is becoming an increasingly large player in the shopping process, he adds.

Carlioz admits that Puma was late to recognize social media’s marketing potential.

Indvik, L, 2012 <> Retrieved April, 20, 2015


Since recognizing their late involvement in social media, sports brand PUMA has gone heavily into the social media world. The brand utilizes a range of social platforms including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Tumblr
  • Foursquare
  • Instagram

Puma uses social media for two ends: to build the brand — which Carlioz describes as both performance-driven and modest — and to drive awareness around big product and campaign launches.

Indvik, L, 2012 <> Retrieved April, 20, 2015

Interestingly in response to their research, around 2010 PUMA took action to becoming more social, creative and engaging with customers by developing Puma Creative Factory. The concept – a customized application platform whereby in store (using ipads) customers can design their own shoes and share designs socially. A great video from the app designing company can be found here

Further to this, PUMA developed a social platform of their own called Life Score Board as part of their digital strategy, which allows users to create competitions of their own and easily keep scores. This in addition to developing social clubs around the world has seen major price rises for PUMA.

I believe that giving customers a first hand opportunity to design their own products or patterns is a great way to discover potential trends in what consumers want. However, this is probably a costly exercise and would be only open to large corporations with capital behind them.

– Given that brands such as PUMA are turning to innovative ways to create social media to engage with customers, has anyone else seen new trends from brands?

– How effective do you think social media is as a means to market research?

– Do you believe that consumers are driving what makes ‘fashion’ these days?

– Are consumers being told/fed what is to be considered ‘fashion’ from designers/brands/retailers?

– What type of research strategies are best suited for upcoming SMEs?

It would be great to open some of these questions up for discussion.