Much has been said about how poor panel practices are going to eventually lead to the exhaustion of the sample available from panels. From the latest GRIT report to the most recent CASRO conference, the bemoaning of response rates is hard to tune out, and rightfully so.
As market researchers, this is definitely an area we can improve on. However, being in a niche sample industry, Hispanic sample, we have yet to feel the dire consequences of 40-minute surveys and constant spamming of our panelists.
So how has the Hispanic sample industry been immune from dropping response rates?
U.S. Hispanic panels didn’t really come to fruition until the early 2000s, a decade after general market panels hit the scene. This fact alone explains a lot. Hispanic panelists have been subjected to poor panel practices for half the time general population panelists have. Moreover, when Hispanic panels started to take shape, the industry was starting to become aware of these poor practices. In response, it started implementing more safeguards and processes that made the panel experience more pleasant.
Survey design was also more user-friendly when Hispanic panels started being created. Thus Hispanic panelists have been exposed to easier to use surveys than general population panelists who had to endure the more crude survey designs prevalent during the industry’s infancy.
Driven by the difficulty and consequently large upfront investment involved in the recruitment of Hispanic panelists, specifically Spanish-dominant Hispanic panelists, most Hispanic panel companies invest significantly more than general population panel companies to keep respondents happy.
Customer service teams consisting of call centers, online chat operators, and retention specialists are just a few of the unique ways Hispanic panel companies keep panelists engaged. This type of attention to the respondent has kept Hispanic sample response rates higher on average than gen pop panels.
Due to the higher incidence of mobile only households among U.S. Hispanics, Hispanic panels have made mobile access a priority by necessity. The reality is all panels should have this perspective but because of the overwhelming number of mobile-only households among U.S. Hispanics, it has been more a priority for Hispanic panels. This shift has created a panel experience more in line with the everyday experience of the respondent, untethering them from their laptop at home. This statistic has also made it easier for Hispanic panel companies to advocate for shorter surveys to accommodate the more mobile Hispanic experience.
Hispanic panels have been somewhat shielded from the precipitous drop in panel response rates noted among all major gen pop panels. However, it is important for Hispanic panels to learn from the panel industry's mistakes. As technology continues to evolve and more devices compete for respondents’ attention, keeping an eye on user experience should always be a priority. To do so helps to keep one of the most valuable assets in market research happy, our respondents.