"Market research" is a term that is heard often in the modern world; but what does it actually mean? Essentially, market research is a form of business research which is conducted in order to discover new, or retrieve existing, information and knowledge for a specific purpose. Market research is broader in scope than other types of research, such as consumer research, as it asks questions about business competitors, market structure, government legislation, economic trends and various other factors that make up the particular business environment under scrutiny.
Market research panels involve longitudinal, statistical studies in which groups of individuals are interviewed at intervals over a specific length of time in order to collect representative data. The developing technology of the internet has made it increasingly possible for companies to conduct market research panels online. This has in turn led to a growth in the number of online market research services being offered, and has thus generated a subsequent growth in the number of existing online market research panels.
As a result, panel science has become increasingly specialised and has resulted in a number of quality control procedures being put in place by leading online panel experts. Panel quality is the key to modern methods of online panel research; many panel providers now create specialist panels in a variety of countries in order to allow clients quick and easy access to niche segments of specific markets.
For instance, if a cosmetics business or company were planning a research project, they'd be able to find cosmetics specialist sub-panels which would make their research more accurate for specific markets. These specialist sub-panels are compiled by leading online market research firms by encouraging panel communities to update their profiles across certain key verticals. Specialist panels can be created to provide up-to-date market research on particular subjects which can be as wide ranging as fair-trade and green consumerism, through to the mobile phone market, video gaming and fashion.
As well as providing specialist panels, many online panel research providers also offer their clients bespoke services; this means they can create the most appropriate panel to suit their customers’ needs. And as panel science advances, so too do the methods by which panels are built. Today, leading online panel experts recruit their panellists from numerous media outlets, including PR, pay per click advertising, banner advertising , emails and referrals.
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