This Thursday, Questia Group brings up a new section on its blog, in which you can read more on the methodological aspects of market research and the constant developments in the field.

Today, we focus our article on online surveying. Just at a click of a button, one can find on the worldwide web articles covering the same two never ending topics: online vs. offline surveying and advantages and disadvantages of online surveying. However, almost no article tackles the overall context in which the different market research methodologies have emerged, and the increasing importance of online in the digital times we are living in.

During ‘30s, applying door to door questionnaires or mailing surveys out were the only options available. From ‘70s onwards, phone interviews became a popular alternative, thanks to the fast adoption of the telephone. And now, the increasing penetration of Internet services and smartphones has opened up exciting opportunities for both businesses and individuals. As more types of media have entered people’s homes and offices, users are also demanding more products and services that can be consumed by anyone, at any time. As a result, the needs in terms of market research have also changed, focusing nowadays on 3 main strategic pillars: speed, value for money and easiness. As we call this approach at , Questia – “Agile Market Research”. But let’s discuss them one by one.

Speed. Until recently, designing and conducting surveys was a time-consuming task requiring many resources involved, from multiple trainings with the interviewers to extended periods of analysis and reporting. Today, online surveying services make market research much easier and faster. People do not have the needed time and patience anymore to fill in 50 minutes long questionnaires, as the clients cannot afford to wait for one week to receive a tiring, 100 slides report. On top of this, perceptions are valuable as long as they rely on fresh data, delivered with high frequency. So, speed becomes not only an advantage for data collection, but also for data processing. The design of online surveys allows the responses to go directly into the database, eliminating the data entry stage and allowing rapid analysis and reporting.

Value for money. In an era in which clients are dealing with more and more budget constraints, but less and less time, the technology of online surveying is blossoming. As less human input is required during the process of data collection, the costs are also lowered. On top of this, since most of the work is automated, researcher’s time and efforts are considerably reduced, allowing stronger focus on insights and actionable recommendations generation.

Easiness. Online surveys have international reach potential, allowing researchers and clients to communicate with more people, from different countries, in an easier way. They have also given us more flexibility and creativity to enhance research design, allowing complex logic questionnaires and eliminating the interviewer-effect. As a result, the accuracy of the responses gathered increases, from richer open-ended responses to less biased answers.
With 500% increase penetration in the last 17 years, European Internet services reach more and more people each day, allowing easier access to online surveying. Focusing on the Romanian market, two thirds of the households have access to Internet services, with over 4 p.p. increase in 2016 vs. 2015, mostly triggered by rural areas. So, as the use of Internet services spreads in rural as well, online panels will have more and more representativity of the targets in these areas.
But even so, certain industries are focusing their strategic efforts where the “big pockets” are and where the relevant buyers are – in urban areas – which makes the online alternative even more at hand.

To sum up, we live in digital times which require digital tools to keep up with our businesses and our customers’ changing needs. The consumers today have less and less in common with the ones living a few years ago. So why not start getting to know them today?

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