As an addendum to Sarah’s GREAT post about the ways respondents are reached for market research surveys, I wanted to add a “Part 2” to discuss the various ways respondents are incentivized.

As the VP of Product here at Lab42, I am frequently asked about our methodology as it compares to “traditional online research,” otherwise known as “online panels”.

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The fundamental difference between Lab42’s methodology and that of online panels is how survey respondents are reached. Traditional panel companies use web-based email to send surveys out and provide credit-based incentives (such as airline miles, hotel points, and magazine subscriptions), whereas the Lab42 interaction is focused on reaching respondents in real time, in which a respondents earns virtual currency by giving of their time and opinions as they are engaged online with social media, social networking sites, and social applications.

Given that the Lab42 methodology is still perceived as very new and cutting-edge, one question that I often hear is, “are your respondents just taking a survey for the virtual credits?”

A fair question; one that we have investigated thoroughly with parallel tests with panels, and a question that we are able to continue to combat through the continued quality of our respondents’ feedback.   However, the bigger question is, why is any respondent motivated to take a survey, be it in-person, on the phone, or online?

At the end of the day, aren’t we all conditioned to want a positive reward for our time and personal opinions?

To help validate my theory on the quality of our respondents, I did as any true market researcher would do – I worked with my team to create a survey to ask our respondents why he or she chose to give his/her time and opinions to complete a survey (kind of meta, huh?).

Not only was the range of respondents (ages, gender, geo, level of education, HHI) interesting to me, but so were their motivations. Here are a few responses that really caught my attention:

  • What motivated me to take this survey that I needed to try something new to take – a different kind of easy survey that I can understand.
  • I like to give my input– As a former Psychology major, I know how important it is to have people participate in research!
  • I enjoy sharing my thoughts with companies that sell products and services so that I can influence what is offered in the future.

As Lab42 continues to grow as a company and our methodology earns the utmost trust through quality data results, I continue to grow and understand human behavior a little more with each and every completed study. At the end of the day, we all care to be valued, and with that, we hope and desire that our individual time and opinions count for something. And remember – if you don’t know, just ask!

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