Every now and then, “jargon” or (less charitably, “marketing speak”), has a lot to answer for. In the data and insights world, “greater efficiency” is the first of my pet hate jingo-isms as it usually involves the loss of some element of rigour, in order to make the cost of doing research “better” (i.e. cheaper!). 

My attribution of pet hate status to “greater efficiency” is that loss of rigour is most commonly followed by a loss of quality, and consequently, a loss of confidence in what the research is designed to do – namely support quality, evidence-based decision making. 

A little while ago, the ASC held a one day conference on sampling quality; this is a topic which has been discussed with a varying degree of urgency as far back as online sampling began, but one which has recently found renewed impetus through the carelessness of certain actors.  

At its very heart, the science (and art) of sampling ensures that you have a balanced (and yes, representative) group of people who are knowledgeable on the topic in question, who are fully engaged with your means of interaction, are prepared to contribute their beliefs and opinions and who believe that their input is appropriately valued. None of these can be achieved by reducing incentives, driving down the cost per interview, deploying complex and non-user friendly questioning approaches, and avoiding on-going engagement and loyalty measures - all of which are the most commonplace manifestations of seeking “greater efficiency”. 

Whether you are deploying a self-serve research platform, using a dedicated sample provider, have commissioned a first-party data collector or have retained a full-service insights agency, you ALL need people willing to talk at length/depth about your topic of choice. And simply put, this cannot come cheap. 

Many would argue that bots, straight-liners, fraudulent actors and things like respondent farms are the problems we should be concentrating on…but have we (really) asked ourselves why those problems exist? Disrespecting respondents undermines the fundamental contract between the insights industry and its SOLE source of business: the person (either as Consumer, Citizen, User, Employee or whatever.)

As a point of comparison, B2B samples are usually considered more difficult to reach, more expensive to interview, and more costly to maintain. Yet nowadays, B2B-focused businesses appear to be doing significantly better than consumer-focused agencies - I wonder why? 

If you’re a buyer of research, re-think what, how often and where you seek input; if you’re a supplier of research, push-back on long, complex or un-engaging question lists; and for both sides, remember: quality does not come cheap; "greater efficiency” usually means “diminishing returns”. 

If you would like to re-think how you can improve the experience of those people that you would like to talk to, then speak to one of the experts at RONIN.

Read part two

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