In the past 10 years the market research industry has faced radical changes as many traditional methods of intelligence gathering have been disrupted by the explosive growth of online panel management and data collection. Market research companies who manage panels of respondents have faced massive challenges in growing their capabilities to reach multi-national audiences, acquiring and retaining consumers on their research panels, while at the same time controlling their spiralling costs.
As SSI grew their research panels to 34 countries, with 68 different panel brands, in 5 continents and 27 local languages, they faced the serious challenge of how to develop an incentive and reward strategy that remained relevant to their diverse participants - from a demographic, cultural and geographical perspective.
Having taken over several new panels across multiple regions (America, Asia Pacific and Europe) SSI found that panel retention and survey completion rates were particularly weak in some countries, due primarily to a poor reward choice and user experience with the reward process, which failed to retain and motivate panel members.
Through the use of focused research questionnaires, SSI determined that improving the selection of prepaid rewards on offer and the speed of reward delivery, would significantly improve panel growth and retention rates. The desirability of local prepaid rewards, matched with speedy distribution for younger generations, would also encourage existing non-active panel members to complete further surveys.
A key requirement was to reduce logistical costs by consolidating the prepaid reward incentive to a single supplier to fulfil all rewards on a global scale, while providing a superior user experience compared to industry competitors.
It was hoped that pursuing such a strategy would yield the following benefits to the business within a year of implementation:
- Increase panel retention by 20%.
- Increase survey completion rates by 10%.
- Reduce logistical costs by 15%
SSI contracted Ovation to develop its global incentive platform to address these specific business requirements. Commencing in 2011, Ovation, on SSI’s behalf, developed a unique network of over 1,200 different retail merchant prepaid products that are used to incentivise and motivate over 3 million registered panel members in 34 countries, 17 currencies and 27 languages.
Ovation pursued a strategy of making the reward process more efficient, reducing costs and developing the incentive mix to be more relevant to Generation Y – the largest demographic segment. Ovation did this by researching and contracting and developing order processing systems with e-gift card merchants and e-vouchers suppliers on a global basis. The effect of this can be seen where the use of physical prepaid cards was reduced globally from 79% to 37% (fig. 3) in 5 years.
Ovation’s use of bespoke technology enabled the real-time delivery of electronic prepaid value to panel members – in fact now over 400 of the 1,200 brands are electronic and available for immediate delivery in real-time to panel members.
The results of the initial stated objectives were more than reached through the use of aggressive recruitment, retention, and incentive strategies including the implementation of Ovation Incentives globally.
- Panel retention rates were 230% above target
- Survey completion rates were 60% above target
- Reduction in logistical costs were 63% above target
- Highly relevant rewards options delivered for different cultures, including such popular prepaid items such as game cards in China, rice gift vouchers in Japan and online currencies in Korea.
"The program can reward panel members instantly around the world while taking into consideration the cultural and demographic differences of each country, and all of this with minimal administration. The reward choice has improved panel growth & retention rates and increased survey completion rates." – Global Reward Manager - Survey Sampling International (SSI)