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How to get the best from your online consumer research

How to get the best from your online consumer research

Mark Simon, Managing Director of Toluna, looks at the new world of market research and how to get the best from your online survey.

The internet has broken down the barriers between brands and their customers, providing an exciting and interactive platform for communication and collaboration.

In a fast moving marketplace, where technology and product developments have to keep in step with the changing needs and wants of consumers, it is very much a case of survival of the quickest.

Successful decision-making is dependent on gathering accurate and timely information based on real-time snapshots of the market and consumer opinion. But this type of market research has always been seen as a premium service, which takes up a large amount of time and resources.

However, the development of online market research means surveys can be conducted using a significant sample size, quickly and cost-effectively. Now market research can be used to inform marketing strategy, saving costs, reduce time to market and increasing the likelihood of success for marketing campaigns before they have been launched.

Logic dictates that the faster an organisation can develop a product and take it to market, the greater the gains which are made. Companies can no longer afford to go through a lengthy concept evaluation cycle; by inviting the target audience to feed in to the initial ideas helps whittle down the options and gauge initial feedback to the product or ad campaign in question.

However, gaining valuable consumer research which is used to dictate the direction and attributes of a product or service is a valuable part of establishing a direct link with the consumer.

Online panels provide the quickest, easiest and most affordable way to gain quick and meaningful responses from relevant target consumers. Not only does it save in time, but also development costs. Ideas and proposals can be run past relevant targets with results available within 24 hours.  Companies can then choose to invest in those ideas which have been proven to be a success with consumers.

Strategic decisions are also better informed through the use of research. Critical decision-making is dependent on accurate information, where real-time snapshots of the market and consumer opinion are needed - for example, when deciding to change a subscription model or launch a competitive product.

Different company types have different needs – a market research agency needs a small survey, a PR or advertising agency needs support for a new business pitch, a charity needs to know what its supporters are thinking and what their priorities are.

Often, such decisions need to be made within short time-frames. This is where the ability to assess market and consumer opinion is so critical and why services like Toluna QuickSurveys hold so much value. If carried out in the correct way, online research can provide invaluable information to help guide the brand to commercial and strategic success.

5 Top Tips for a Reliable Survey

Keeping your questions simple and clear will ensure that all participants complete the survey and will preserve the quality of your data. The following tips should help you to get the best from your respondents:

1. Keep question wording short

• Try to write short questions with less than 10 words and limit the number of possible answers so they are easily understood
• The use of images or videos may help illustrate your answer and keep wording down

2. Keep question wording clear

• Choose precise vocabulary. For example, when asking about purchasing habits use “Every week” instead of “Very frequently” which is too vague.
• Avoid double negatives.

3. Keep answers simple

• Try to list the main possible answers for each question. Use “None of these” and “Other” so that participants can answer in every case
• Add “Don’t know” as a possible answer if some participants may have difficulties answering or risk them dropping out of the survey

4. Stay neutral and cautious

• Use neutral wording to avoid any bias or in your question, as positive or negative questions may influence some participants
• If the answer items are lists of brands, products or services, you should randomise the answer which will randomly change the order of answers for each participant
• If you want to target a specific profile, use a generic question as screener. For example, if you want to survey Renault car owners, you could use:
- Q1: “Which car do you own?” with a list of car manufacturers including Renault
- Q2 to Q5: ask your questions to Renault owners (Q1 would filter out all participants who are not Renault owners)

5. Always test your survey

• Carefully read your question and answers before proceeding to the next question
• Test your survey and filters before launching


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