OPINION1 March 2010

The answer is simplicity itself

Opinion

In the rush to innovate, prove a return on investment and mine fresh seams of insight, the research business has, arguably, been a little less enthusiastic in its attempts to attract, engage and retain respondents.

In the rush to innovate, prove a return on investment and mine fresh seams of insight, the research business has, arguably, been a little less enthusiastic in its attempts to attract, engage and retain respondents.

For years the research business has publicly cautioned itself against treating respondents as ‘answer fodder’. No conference would be complete without passionate calls for an end to soul-destroying tick box surveys, begrudging incentives and one-way communication. As those conferences drew to a close delegates were fired up, energised and ready to tackle those very issues. Onwards! Upwards! To the barricades! And as with most heart-felt initiatives, not that much happened in practice. All the right noises were made and then things went very quiet. Despite all the debate surrounding the engaged respondent, it appeared that the engaged respondent was a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’. Quite surprising that anyone still wants to participate in research. And, yet, participate they do. In great numbers. Respondentageddon is, it appears, some way off.

A new survey, conducted by eDigitalResearch reveals that, despite our worst fears, respondents are by and large more than happy to participate. It appears that the respondents are less angst-ridden than the researchers. Over eighty per cent of respondents take part in research because “they want to influence what future products
or services look like”. The research business couldn’t have asked for a purer or more apt reason. People want to help steer the development of the brands near and dear to their hearts.

Research has, it appears, done its job in demonstrating to respondents that surveys make a difference to brand strategy. If only senior boardroom executives were always as easy to convince.

One respondent to the survey said, “It is great to meet a diverse number of people and to hear everyone’s opinions and to be able to bounce ideas around.” With that open-minded approach to life perhaps that respondent would be better suited to being a researcher.

Keeping respondents on board is simple. There’s an idiot-proof four-point plan.

  1. Don’t bore them.
  2. Talk to them like human beings.
  3. Keep the approach fresh.
  4. Let them know what will change as a result of the research project.

There’s no need for the research business to agonise, self-flagellate or stage a revolution. There’s one important fact for all researchers to remember here – respondents actually seem to like research.

@RESEARCH LIVE

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