For general quantitative research with a large scope, how likely are you to recommend online panel research to your clients and why or why not?

I would definitely recommend the use of an online research panel for a large scope quantitative research study.  However, the scope of the research truly needs to be large. Online research panels unquestionably lend themselves to national/regional quantitative studies.  In many circumstances, clients that operate locally won’t be able to utilize the benefits of an online panel (however RMS does have its own large local research panel for Central New York).  I’ve outlined a few major pros and cons that I’ve seen with the use of research panels:

2013 market research trend online panels

Are panels worth it?


  • Fast turn-around.  Once the survey is up and running, data collection can be completed in the matter of a day or two.
  • Alternative to declining phone methodology.  The decrease in landlines is becoming more of a problem in consumer research and cell phone sample isn’t much more productive.  Online panel research is a great alternative as it can allow you to reach the many individuals that have phased out their landline phones.
  • Pre-screen respondents.  Panel research typically allows you to pre-screen respondents based on the information profiles that they filed out when signing up for the research panel.
  • Research-ready respondents.  The invites being sent out to the research panel are quite effective as the respondents have already opted-in to participate in research studies.


  • Hard to target specific audiences.  While you can pre-screen respondents, only so many particular individuals are signed up an online research panel.
  • Trained research respondents.  The respondents being research-ready can also be a negative.  Many online research panel respondents can become aware of how to answer screener questions to avoid being screened out and continue with the survey.  This issue can be somewhat mitigated by changing the wording and method for screener questions or asking them to re-confirm data at the end of the survey. Here are some tips to improve online data quality.
  • Not as personal.  If you’re looking to get in touch with people, nothing beats the use of an experience call center.  Phone reps can build rapport and set a positive tone with respondents and let them know you’re interesting in hearing their feedback.

To read Part 1 of this 2013 market research trend post written by Vance Marriner, our Senior Research Analyst at RMS click here. If you are interested in using an online panel to conduct online survey research in Syracuse NY, contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at or by calling 315-635-9802.