Modern market research has seen four major phases of quantitative survey data collection. During that time, we saw representative samples of U.S. Hispanics emerge and take root in mainstream market research. Let’s take a closer at the evolution of quantitative research and how innovation in the field impacted the widespread use of Hispanic sample.
Face to face (F2F) research was driven by address randomization to create samples. Computer aided telephone interviewing (CATI) relied on random digital dialing. Online surveys relied on front end quotas, and now we are in a phase which we have termed “device agnostic online surveys,” meaning online surveys can be taken anywhere on any device at any time.
But what does this have to do with Hispanic sample? Well, the Hispanic marketing and research industry surfaced after the 2000 census. There were a few companies in the mid and early 90s that were astute and paid attention to the Hispanic immigration influx, but what really made researchers and marketers think about the Hispanic market was the 2000 census. The census had a low, medium, and high projection for the Hispanic population for the 2000 census and when that census came out, the Hispanic population was higher than the high projection.
Companies invested in researching this population and while some work was being done online in the early 2000s, CATI was dominant, and this was the defacto methodology when working with U.S. Hispanics. Furthermore, before the internet and mobile phones, the digital divide was a real thing. Flash forward to present day, and there no longer is a digital divide between U.S. Hispanics and Hispanics are even more mobile than their non-Hispanic counterparts.
So, what are we doing to engage Hispanics online? Well, we know that Hispanics are highly mobile. Nearly 80% of U.S. Hispanic adults access the internet via their mobile devices. To ensure representative samples, it's essential to think mobile first in every aspect of your panel design. Surprisingly, the online research industry was built for desktop and email and has not evolved much since the early 2000s. At ThinkNow, since Hispanics are our primary focus, we have looked at the panel experience differently and ensure that all our recruitment pages are mobile optimized. We are also taking the lead in educating our clients on the importance of having mobile optimized surveys. Right now, almost 70% of our surveys are mobile optimized. To increase engagement, we generate mobile content to share across various platforms, including social media, newsletters, and maintain the ability to chat with our customer service team via mobile.
From our experience, we have learned that the more touch points you engage panelists, the better response rates and data integrity you get.
This, again, is uncharacteristic for the industry. In the past, the panel industry was designed around a one-way communication. The panel company sends the email out, maybe a couple of reminders, and that is it. If a respondent had a question regarding the survey or incentives, they would email a generic “info@” email and hope to get a response. We have taken the opposite approach. We realized that our respondents have a higher privacy threshold and want to know that they can trust the panel. To bridge that, respondents can dial into our call center to immediately address any issues they have. Additionally, we actively manage our social media pages where users can submit questions via comment or chat and have a chat window in our main portal page. Most recently, we’ve added Facebook Live sessions where users can join our panel manager live and ask questions face to face.
Now that we have addressed surveys and engagement, let’s explore how our team at ThinkNow is preparing our panel to do away with surveys entirely and move into passive data collection. Well…
We are starting to see that it is becoming more and more difficult for the industry to collect survey data. It has also not escaped our attention that metering technologies are becoming more in demand. We have begun inviting a select group of panelists to download our proprietary metering app, Knowy, in exchange for incentives that track GPS location, website usage, web searches, and app usage. We are combining that with survey data to get the “why” behind the “what.” While we don’t see survey data going away soon, we do see the process changing.
Lastly, let’s look at some new technologies impacting online panels, the most significant being blockchain. One large hurdle we have as a company with recruiting both Hispanic and African-American audiences are increased data privacy concerns. Blockchain has the ability to provide a technology solution that enables privacy while allowing us to gather survey data. It also can incentivize without the need of a traditional bank which is an issue with underbanked and unbanked audiences. Lastly, there will be no need to gather demographic screener questions repeatedly as blockchain can store this information and use across multiple surveys.
Ultimately, it is important to use technology to increase the representation of unrepresented audiences in research. Many times, when we think of technology, we don’t necessarily think of underrepresented audiences and this is exactly who we should be thinking of when creating solutions.