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Understanding Panel Surveys in Market Research

Feb 18, 2022

Thanks to modern technology, there are more ways today than ever to gain critical insights into your consumers. You can uncover what they think of your product or your idea, how they feel about certain values and priorities, and ultimately, whether they’re likely to buy what you’re selling.

One of those many options for getting insights is a type of survey called a panel survey. What is a panel survey, why might you use it, and how can you make it as productive as possible?

What Is a Panel Survey?

A panel survey is a survey that measures and analyzes the opinions of the same group of people over time. It’s a type of longitudinal study because it measures long-term data, not just one snapshot like a traditional survey.

Of course, within the category of panel surveys, the details can vary. You could carry out a panel survey using online surveys, individual interviews, or observations, for example.

Panel surveys are useful because they offer insights that a singular survey would not. They give you more accurate information to predict consumers’ buying behaviors beyond impulse buying. These surveys also let you see how perceptions change from consumers’ first impressions to their opinions after they’ve thought about it for longer. They could even show you how consumers’ attitudes change at different times of the year.

Panel Surveys’ Uses and Applications

There are several circumstances that make panel surveys particularly helpful. It all depends on what you want to know.

Testing a Product or Concept’s Viability

If you have a concept you’re considering for a new product or service, or if you already have a prototype of the product, market research is a tremendous way to test out your target audience and see if they have an interest in it. Panel surveys are especially helpful with this because it tells you whether consumers’ interest in your product stays consistent over time, increases after consumers have thought about it more, or decreases after the initial appeal of its novelty wears off.

Gaining Consumer Opinions on a Product in the Market

If your product is already on the market, you can also use panel surveys to see what consumers think about it and potentially to find out why it isn’t selling as well as you expected. Panel surveys let you see how your consumers’ attitudes about the product might shift and affect their buying habits.

Identifying Key Brand Perceptions

Defining your brand is crucial for any business that wants to stand out and be successful long-term, but before you can tell consumers who your brand is, you need to know who they think you are. Panel surveys let you discover those consumer perceptions and see how they change over time or after you implement new branding campaigns.

Measuring Your Audience

Audience measurement surveys are quite different from surveys about a brand or product. What are audience measurement panels? These panel surveys allow you to survey a broad group of people to find out who has the most interest in your product so you can pinpoint your target market. That can shift over time, so panel surveys can help you watch over those long-term changes.

Tips for Panel Quality and Panel Design in Research

Like any market research method, panel surveys’ results are only as good as the quality of the survey. If you want to get accurate, usable information, you need to design your panel surveys well. Start with these vital tips.

Keep Your Panel Diverse

Your survey sample is one of the most important factors in making your survey predictions accurately reflect the market, so make sure you incorporate diversity into your sample. If a particular demographic isn’t well-represented, your data for them might be skewed because of the small sample size and it leaves you blind to their actual opinions.

Consider this panel sampling example: you’re testing the market for a new bookkeeping software you’ve developed. You want to do a panel test of 1000 people. Within that thousand, about half are small business owners and half are decision-makers from larger businesses. You select proportions of genders, races, and ages that reflect your target market, like the city you’re selling in or the industry you’re targeting. This sample would give you fairly accurate data.

Put Technology to Use

Old-fashioned multiple-choice surveys are incredibly limited. To get more precise and thorough insights into your consumers, use an advanced AI survey instead.

AI surveys can offer open-ended questions to get consumers’ real opinions, not just the one of four options that is closest to their opinions. AI surveys can also use respondents’ answers to enhance other respondents’ questions, like asking if they agree or disagree with a certain statement that other respondents are making. Finally, these surveys can digest and distill all that information into usable, quantifiable results.

Use the Simplest Method Possible

One of the most important parts of a panel survey is your ability to survey the same people two or more times, so the success of your survey hinges on convincing your respondents to come back for each part of the survey.

To make this happen at the highest possible rate, you need to make your surveys easy to access. This is why panel surveys usually use online surveys rather than interviews: interviews are less convenient for respondents so more respondents will drop off after the first survey.

Putting Panel Surveys to Use

A panel survey could be the key to empowering your organization with the meaningful, thorough data you need to launch and grow a thriving brand or product. GroupSolver’s advanced AI technology can make those results even more powerful. To find out how, learn more about GroupSolver surveys or request a demo today.


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