How Do Market Research Companies Separate Themselves from the Bad Guys?
Everyone has seen the posts on Craigslist or received that email saying “Make Money Online Free and Fast!!” Most people know these posts are either scams or viruses and they’re not to be trusted. So when a legitimate market research company is trying to entice respondents to complete their surveys, they need to ensure they are going to appear trustworthy. The Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) posts some tips for the public on how to tell if a market research firm is valid. One guideline is that legitimate market research firms will “value the time you take to complete a survey by offering modest incentives and “thank you” such as sweepstakes entries, coupons or a nominal monetary reward. Remember, if the incentive seems too good to be true – it probably is.”
Offering incentives is one of the best ways to guarantee a decent response rate for surveys, so if people do not trust a company who is offering them money or another form of incentive, it can be damaging to their business. For harder to reach target markets, such as physicians, incentives may be the only way to get this segment to participate. So it is imperative that every respondent who participates receive their incentives in a timely manner, upholding the research company’s legitimacy.
Where’s My Money?
Using an incentive company can be very useful when dealing with a large sample size. This takes the task of preparing checks, stuffing envelopes and mailing hundreds of letters away from the research company. As a project manager who deals with incentives, that’s a good thing! But what happens when the incentive company you’ve hired is overlooking rewarding respondents? This happened recently – we invited participants to a survey and one responded that she had not received her incentive for a previous survey and therefore will not be participating. In her mind, she may be thinking that surveys from us are a scam because the incentive company we used failed to confirm receipt of her incentive. Yes, mistakes happen and people can be overlooked from time to time, but it is imperative that action is taken to restore respondent confidence.
The “REAL” Bad Guys
There are companies out there that will advertise that they are a research firm. They look very legitimate too; however, responders attempting to take the “survey” land on pages actually trying to sell them something. This is called “sugging” which is selling under the guise of research. According to the Marketing Research Association, this practice is causing distrust among the public and is affecting the reliability of public opinion research. If legitimate companies fail to provide promised incentives, they can perpetuate this distrust and become lumped in with every bad experience they’ve had with doing surveys. It is no wonder the market research industry is struggling with respondent cooperation.
Whether handling incentives in-house or using a vendor, processes must be in place to guarantee every participant gets paid to stay one of the good guys and not jeopardize your company’s reputation.
Stacy Martinez, Project Manager