Industry Insights

What is a Panel Survey?


Panel surveys, often also called longitudinal surveys or tracker studies, are utilized in market research to collect precise data over an extended period to gain deeper insight into changes, or the lack thereof, over the course of the period. Surveys, overall, have been improved through the implementation of technology and better utilization of the internet, as survey responses used to be gathered periodically to report with pen and paper. This was both difficult and time-consuming to keep participants coming back for the multiple waves of panel surveys. Now, gathering data through panel surveys has become easier as participants can choose to remain anonymous, complete the survey from any location, and researchers can gather larger numbers of people to take the survey via the Internet. 

What is a Panel Survey?

A panel survey is a continuously run survey, often in precisely timed waves, used to observe how a target audience’s thoughts, opinions, and attitudes change or don’t change over the course of a specific time frame. This type of survey is frequently used to track the status of an election or consumer purchasing habits, for example. The survey is conducted by gathering a group of people to take multiple surveys, also known as waves, over the course of weeks, months, or even years. These waves are strategically spread out based on the specific survey and topics at hand. Consistently measuring the same group with the same metrics is valuable to measuring behavioral or perception changes. In surveys, there is a difference between trackers and recontact surveys. Trackers, or panel surveys, survey the same group of people over and over whereas a recontact aims to get data specifically from one person.

How a Panel Survey Works

1. Set Research Goals

Discover what topic you are seeking to analyze and why it is important for you to uncover these results. Decipher if you want data on a product, service, marketing material, or something else. Establish what you already know about this topic and what you are looking to gain insight on throughout the waves of the panel survey.

2. Determine the Target Audience

Since you’ll need a recurring group of respondents for an extended period, it is essential that they are the right fit. This group will need to provide the precise insights you are seeking and be surveyed consistently over the lifetime of the project. While product testing might be a one-time project, a panel survey will analyze how the group perceives your brand and how their opinions change over time. The demographic of your target group including age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc. are important to align with the goals of the survey. For example, if the survey is gathering data on the quality of a diaper brand, new moms would be the most suitable as the target audience.

3. Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

You should decipher what kinds of questions you want the participants to be asked and that will further determine if the survey will require qualitative research, quantitative research, or a good mixture of both. [Could link to our blog post about Qual vs. Quant] A combination of both types of research will allow the participant to convey their views more accurately and further lead to better data points. Once the questions have been nailed down, you should decide the frequency of the waves. Maximize as much or as little time the respondents will need between waves to allow you to walk away with the most resourceful insights. These waves and their timing are essential for capturing the change in perspective of the survey participants. For example, a bank conducting studies to track promotions and trends of competition would be more inclined to run a monthly wave to ensure they’re capturing these

4. Administer Your Panel Survey

Once all the steps are completed, you should program your survey and ensure you set up the appropriate sampling frames. Then, it is time to test the survey to a group and gather feedback on the length of interview, question types, and other obstacles that may deter people from taking the survey. It is essential to have a reliable research partner like InnovateMR, especially in these final steps to ensure smooth sailing. Lastly, release the survey to your target audience, execute each wave of the survey, and analyze the insights of your panel survey. 

Unlock the Power of Panel Surveys with InnovateMR

Panel surveys serve as an essential asset to capture a target audience’s developing and sometimes shifting perspectives. The ability to capture data in waves allows continuous tracking of the target market and ongoing brand or product adaptation to match with their needs. Just like every survey, however, panel surveys require the right questions and type of research to enable resourceful insights to be captured and applied to the researcher’s end goal. 

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About InnovateMR – InnovateMR is a full-service sampling and ResTech company that delivers faster, quality insights from business and consumer audiences utilizing cutting-edge technologies to support agile research. As industry pioneers, InnovateMR provides world-class end-to-end survey programming, targeted international sampling, qualitative and quantitative insights, and customized consultation services to support informed, data-driven strategies, and identify growth opportunities. Known for their celebrated status in customer service and results, InnovateMR combines boutique-level service with extensive global reach to achieve partner success.