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When it Comes to Panel Demographics, `Diversify or Else’

 

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Here’s a headline worth pondering: “Brands to Ad Agencies: Diversify or Else.”

 

It tops a New York Times article that relates how some big clients “have publicly put pressure on the agencies they work with to hire more women and minorities.”

 

Market research also faces a work force diversity challenge.

 

We’re not talking about whether the staff members at MR firms and brands’ research departments sufficiently mirror the public they’re trying to understand. We wouldn’t presume to claim any insights about that.

 

We’re talking about the vast work force that provides market research with the raw material the industry’s professional staffs need to do their jobs. It’s a work force of millions of survey respondents, and it’s absolutely imperative that they mirror our nation in all its diversity. They produce the raw material on which our industry thrives: data about what they do, think and feel as consumers. From the data they give us we mine insights into how American business can satisfy the wants and needs of the American marketplace.

 

When it comes to survey respondents, “diversify or else” is just common sense. 

 

It’s MFour’s contention – actually it’s MFour’s entire premise – that the only path to understanding American consumers in all their diversity is to approach them in a way that’s familiar, comfortable, engaging and convenient. It means reaching out on the smartphones that are in almost every hand, pocket or handbag.

 

The smartphone is our society’s great common denominator. It serves multitudes in myriad ways, and is embraced by nearly all. This is the fact of how information is exchanged in the 21st century. Now, more and more professionals in the market research industry are starting to come to grips with this reality. 

 

It’s sinking in that online research is no longer a reliable pipeline for rich, representative data. Reaching Millennials, Hispanics, African Americans, and, increasingly, any other consumer demographic, means finding and engaging them on the devices that are instrumental to their day-by-day, hour-by-hour existence.

 

It’s also important to note the public’s growing indifference to (and frustration over) stuffed email inboxes, where invitations to take online surveys land, then are readily deleted or ignored.

 

Online panelists are expected to open an email, then click on a link to access a survey housed on the web. It’s cumbersome and inefficient — in contrast to all-mobile “native” apps that simplify the process to a single step: answer a push prompt that sounds on the phone,  then take the survey. The app is integral to the phone, and therefore appreciated. Each panelist has chosen to download and use MFour’s Surveys on the Go® app. Each is free to sound off about it with public ratings and comments at the App Store and Google Play. SOTG’s rating at both sites is more than four stars out of five.

 

Survey apps align with the ethic of transparency and accountability that Americans cherish. And in strictly practical terms, they harmonize with Americans’ preferences in information and communications technology.

 

 

So when it comes to market research,  “diversify or else” is just another way of saying “app-based mobile or else.”

 

 

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