MR Blockchain Solutions: A Participant Perspective


In the wake of several large-scale data breaches, participant trust – or lack thereof – has become a hot topic in the market research industry. Participants have become increasingly wary of the industry, especially when it comes to how personal data is used. Last year, I joined a panel of industry experts at the Insights Association Corporate Researchers Conference and again in a webinar replay to discuss why this is the case and what we can do to address it. 

As part of an ongoing effort to explore potential solutions to the challenges currently plaguing the market research industry, I will be collaborating once again with Andrew Cannon, Executive Director of GRBN. Our presentation at IIeX on April 25th will examine the potential impact to participant trust as the industry explores the budding frontier of Blockchain solutions.

The Impact of Blockchain’s Increased Data Security

A Blockchain system records transactions across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network, distributing data in such a way that there is no single “original source” that can be altered by third parties. All entries are recorded chronologically to comprise “chains” that make up completed blocks.

Each of these individual blocks subsequently has its own unique fingerprint that changes whenever the data is altered to ensure it remains unique. When data changes, so too does the fingerprint, and each subsequent set of data – making it significantly more secure than traditional systems. Combined with the peer-to-peer system that distributes copies of the same blockchain across a network of nodes that must remain consistent to be considered valid, Blockchain is considered highly secure.

The Role of Blockchain in Our Industry

Since it was first introduced more than a decade ago as the accounting method for Bitcoin, Blockchain has become a crucial technology in a multitude of industries including finance, communications, cybersecurity, advertising, education, and cloud computing, among many others.

Recently, several Blockchain solutions have been proposed to address trust issues faced in market research as well. In last year’s GRBN Trust Survey, the market research industry ranked below mobile phone operators, search engines and online stores with only 27% of participants saying they trusted the industry, many of their concerns related to how personal data is collected, stored, and used.


Blockchain startups are presenting a varying array of potential solutions, though, which I discussed in great detail in a recent WIRe Trends in MR column. Some see Blockchain as a disruptive technology that will redefine sample procurement. Others see it as a service layer that will help increase quality in the existing supply chain.

As market research companies begin to evaluate and implement potential Blockchain solutions we sought to better understand the participant perspective, and what impact these transitions might have on their opinions of the industry. Our study objectives included:

  1. How do participants perceive Blockchain and its application in the market research space?
  2. Will Blockchain increase or decrease trust in MR companies?
  3. How can Blockchain solutions be improved to increase participation rates and attract new participants?

We conducted an online survey of 1,000 participants (500 from the InnovateMR Panel and 500 from an outside marketplace) and 300 additional intercept interviews offline with Opinions LTD. Sample was balanced by age, gender, region, ethnicity and income, with a mobile-optimized LOI of 10 minutes.

The resulting study uncovered a series of compelling insights from participants.

Join us in Austin at IIeX 2019 NA on April 25, 2019 at 11:20 AM as we discuss the findings of our research, and the potential impact to participant trust utilizing Blockchain technology.