This month, we go one-on-one with panel/audience fulfillment expert Wendy Wyss.
Alchemer: The business world has changed dramatically since March. How are companies using panels to find new customers today?
Wendy Wyss: We deliver the data that companies need to make the business decisions to attract their target audience. Panel members typically prefer to remain anonymous, so panel audiences aren’t used for collecting prospects. Rather, they are used to find out what messaging or positioning attracts a new audience that a company wants to win over, or what will keep their current clientele demographic engaged and coming back.
There are a few corporate segments that are doing very well right now. Gaming companies are doing market research for their next characters and themes to attract new players and keep existing players’ attention. Start-ups and established companies are testing concepts for home delivery and subscription options of their products. We’ve seen new alcoholic (and a few non-alcoholic) drinks being evaluated. Sanitizing gadgets are another item we’ve tested interest in. We’ve fielded surveys for everyday items like bedding too. Companies are capitalizing on in-home staples like sheets and pillows becoming a luxury indulgence that wasn’t as important a year ago.
Alchemer: What is the most common or classic reason for buying a panel?
Wendy: The classic reason to purchase a panel is to conduct market research for a product or service. We see a huge range of reasons here at Alchemer. Lately, we are seeing more companies using panel audiences to help them adjust their business models to our current climate. We’ve fielded quite a few “pulse check” surveys asking if consumers are using curbside grocery pick up or delivery as much as they did in April, for instance. Are consumers willing to go into a store more now than they were? Many of these surveys also include a question along the lines of “when do you think the COVID-19 situation will calm down?” The same client will ask that question every month, it’s very interesting!
Of course, it’s October in an election year, so we are seeing more and more surveys ask opinions about the election and candidates – even if the survey is not political in nature. Our customers are paying for real honest data, so why not throw in a question that may have relevance even if it’s not entirely apparent right now (or the survey creator is just curious)?
Alchemer: What is the most unique use of panels that you’ve seen recently?
Wendy: Recently we fielded a survey to gather data on how best to serve patients. We know people are avoiding doctors and delaying regular/urgent care, which can put them at risk of preventable complications. The survey asked opinions on what would make someone more willing to visit their caregiver (video conference, phone consult, specific cleaning measures in the office, etc.). This data is being used to help healthcare settings accommodate patients’ needs while addressing their concerns about safety.
Alchemer: What departments and types of companies use panels?
Wendy: We are seeing increased numbers of surveys originating from HR departments, with questions like, “When will you feel comfortable coming back to work?” IT departments are asking questions such as, “What do you need to be successful working from home?” Of course, the traditional marketing team research is ongoing.
The companies who use panel audiences really run the gamut from jury consulting companies who are not able to gather in-person focus groups right now to tech companies who are pivoting from researching the reasons for purchasing their products to discovering what online students and teachers need to be effective.
Alchemer: What is the most mission-critical research that you’ve helped with?
Wendy: It seems like much of the data we deliver is mission-critical these days. The “new normal” is constantly evolving and everyone needs to adapt in one way or another. I feel like we’re providing a great service to operations like museums who are surveying people to find out what, if anything, might engage people to visit online since they may not be able to visit in person. Nonprofit organizations are struggling with donations these days, so they are researching what may bring new donors to the table. All of those are essential to keep these businesses and valuable resources open and available.