Last week I attended SampleCon 2021 in Pasadena, CA. Focused on the goal of creating an open forum for discussion around topics related to the sample industry, the convention brought together Research Professionals, Analysts, Panels, Customer Experience Leaders, and Sample Management Leaders. It was my first in-person conference since the world locked down in March of 2020 and surprisingly, it felt like the same conferences I was so accustomed to attending pre-COVID. It was great to see many familiar faces. The sessions were very interesting, and overall, I noticed that three central themes wove their way through almost all the presentations; Collaboration, User Experience, and Data Quality.
1. Restech = Collaboration
According to thought leaders in our industry, we are at a tipping point. ResTech, short for Research Technology, a buzzword shared throughout many sessions should give us a new ability to attract talent from outside the market research industry. ResTech also opens us up to new ways of thinking and applying technology to a previously closed-off and exclusive industry. This rebranding could help open the door to many more research opportunities and maybe even expand the pool of respondents.
During COVID it seems that many companies were forced to put a pause on innovation. Suddenly they were relying heavily on the exchange to fill the harder-to-reach quotas. This change resulted in top executives realizing the importance of collaboration in the industry. If one company can’t fill the quota needed for a project and they don’t allow other companies to help, that sole company isn’t the only failure. The project fails and ultimately the entire MR industry fails. If we were more open to collaborating, we would see higher success on projects which could then lead to more growth in research budgets and more business for the industry overall. If companies started to openly and honestly share what they are both good and bad at, we would find ourselves filling more projects, improving the reach of market research, and building a larger industry with more business opportunities. I am excited to watch this play out.
2. New Perspectives Around Respondent UX
Another issue, according to panel specialists, that the market research industry faces is the poor user experience that we put our respondents through. As an industry, we approach our respondents in the opposite way we are told to approach any type of client. We assume they are liars and scam artists until they prove otherwise. We set up surveys to try and catch them in the act of lying because we have no trust in them. This process is tedious for both the user and the buyer and often leads to very low repeat respondent rates. One solution for this problem was focused on transparency.
We need to be more forthcoming with what we expect from our respondents and what we are asking them to do. This could be done by sharing the research topic before putting someone through a 5-minute screener – allowing them to decide if they even care about the topic before they waste the time getting to the start of it only to determine that it’s not a good fit for them – if they weren’t screened out before getting to that point. Furthermore, these days we are told to limit the amount of information we share online, yet we often require someone to enter their age and birthdate at least once to enter a survey. Just asking this question leads to an 80% drop rate. How can we build better technology to improve the user experience?
3. Data Quality Initiatives Must Be Everchanging
The final theme discussed in most sessions during SampleCon was Data Quality. When the world shut down, the gig economy was a huge target for scammers and people looking to make a quick buck. Many companies had to put together new ways of identifying and combating data quality, as quickly as possible. But now that the world is opening back up this issue isn’t going away, however, there are now more funds and time allocated towards combating the issue through enhanced and targeted technologies.
Many in the market research industry may think Data Quality is the least exciting topic of the three listed here because it’s inevitable. So long as there are surveys, there will be fraud. But as a member of the PureSpectrum team, I can say that there are also people very passionate about data quality solutions. PureSpectrum has been focused on Data Quality since our inception. That’s why we created the first respondent level scoring system, PureScore™. PureScore™ has helped lower the number of reconciliations far below the industry standard. Combining this with other technology enhancements, we will continue to set the bar for data quality standards in our industry. Yet, there is no simple fix for data quality. Our industry as a whole must keep a pulse on it, continuing to fight it, and continue to innovate.
All in all, SampleCon 2021 was a great success. It was fun to connect with known names, meet new faces and be around people again. A nice reminder of the importance of human interactions. At the risk of jinxing myself, I look forward to attending more in-person conferences throughout the second half of this year.
About Monica Voss
Monica Voss is a Director of Client Development for PureSpectrum and a 7-year market research veteran. She is located in San Diego, CA. Monica is passionate about helping businesses use research to make better decisions by empowering their teams with innovative tools and technology. When she’s not talking with research professionals or attending conferences, you can find her enjoying the beaches and parks with her husband, 2-year-old son, and black lab.
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