AIMRI Meeting in Athens

More or less all of us have to fight for “Respondent co-operation“, the subject of the very inspiring Athens meeting on March 6th 2009. Only 20 members attended but all of them unanimously sounded praise on the value of the presentations.

Which research methods and strategies work best, what we can do to increase respondent engagements, these vital questions were answered from a variety of different perspectives. Because of its significant impact on data quality the issue had been brought back into the limelight of the community anyway. Personally, I was reminded of Peter Cape’s (SSI) excellent article in synergie No.3/2008 titled “Why Do People Participate in Surveys?”

The term heard most often during the day was “over-researched”. According to the lectures and comments it would appear that this problem is worst in North America, only a little better in Europe and not (yet) a major obstacle in Asia.

Jack Semler of Readex Research, USA

CMOR Respondent Cooperation Workshop in Miami

The morning sessions were started off by Jack Semler of Readex Research, USA, with a report from the 8th Annual CMOR Respondent Cooperation Workshop in Miami where delegates had come up with a number of helpful rules, e.g. “no large grids”, “don’t force every answer”, “offer to share results”, “use digital fingerprints to track duplicate respondents” and many more. Jack’s most challenging suggestion was to actually deliver incentives at the point of first contact in order to create a sense of obligation which was, obviously, discussed under cost considerations by the group. Be creative in providing incentives or other values (like information) was Jack’s final appeal to his audience.

Robin Shuker of BIA Research, UK

“Are participants relaxed and giving more open answers in online focus groups?”

Robin Shuker of BIA Research, UK posed the question “Are participants relaxed and giving more open answers in online focus groups?” His answer was a clear “yes”! He talked about fast changing and new technologies like video interviews, eBox and itracks platforms and bulletin boards: “Digital is the name of the game”. Popular consumer brands today rely on online focus groups without peer group pressure where people are “brutally” honest and enjoy the experience tremendously. Blogging has become a global pastime! And such fun experiences are worth more than monetary incentives! Robin also presented a software program for running online groups.

Efrain Ribeiro of Ipsos Group, USA,

on “Online engagement challenges & opportunities in the U.S. market”.

We then heard a paper by Efrain Ribeiro of Ipsos Group, USA, on “Online engagement challenges & opportunities in the U.S. market”. Efrain addressed problems like spam emails and declining response rates to panels. As social networks have become really active during the last three years you can (and must) exploit this increasing traffic. River sampling has been positioned as an option for reaching a random, less-surveyed online audience although “self-selection” is still a massive problem for representative samples: “You often don’t know who you get from your intercepts”. Efrain also talked about the need to increase the quality of respondent online experience. His credo: “Regain trust among research-users of online methodology!”

Richard Sheldrake of Perspective, UK

“Reaching the impossible in tele¬phone research”

Richard Sheldrake of Perspective, UK, spoke about “Reaching the impossible in tele¬phone research”. His presentation turned out to be a hilarious, comedy-like performance interlarded with hard facts and valuable pieces of advice for all who rely on telephone surveys. Richard revealed ways how to get around the “gatekeeper”, emphasized the importance of a clear-cut introduction and summarized his message saying “Be clear, be brief, be honest ... and be persistent!”

Sundara Rajan, Market Search, India

Keeping respondents interested and engaged in face-to-face situations.

Sundara Rajan, Market Search, India, presented a unique case study on motor cycle research and explained that in India face-to-face is still the most important method. In spite of the considerable economic progress India still has a low Internet penetration (8%, mobile phones 12%) and Indian market research has to cope with 24 different languages plus 400 dialects! So Sundara showed us how they at Market Search keep respondents interested and engaged in face-to-face situations.

Ralf Zacharias of MAIX, Germany

“New approach to measuring importance”

After a delicious lunch on the top floor of the St George Lycabettus Hotel with a fabulous view over the city and the Acropolis Ralf Zacharias of MAIX, Germany, presented a “New approach to measuring importance” and thus getting in-depth insight into the decision processes of consumers. Basically, we all have encountered the differences and shortcomings of stated and derived importance. According to Ralf the solution is maximum difference scaling (MaxDiff), a method that yields a better and clearer discrimination between items than any other method. Compared with rating scales it is much easier for respondents to understand the question – and that is why it fosters respondent co-operation!

Constantine Sigalos of Global Link, Greece

Market Research in Greece

Last but not least Constantine Sigalos of Global Link, Greece, gave us an overview over the current political and economic situation in Greece and on Market Research in Greece: Internet penetration currently is 50% but fast growing since among the younger generation it has reached 80% already.

Thanks to Richard Chilton’s unpretentious but very effective preparation Athens was yet another delightful meeting with a wealth of valuable inspirations and very useful one-to-one conversations on professional co-operation between members. “See you in Edinburgh and/or Munich!” 

Fritz Brandes

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