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Article: Online Survey Methodology is Picking-up in Less Developed Countries by
Published 10/22/2019

Online Survey Methodology is Picking Up in the Countries having Low Internet Penetration


I have been associated with online research for more than a decade and my observation is that the online research is now finally picking up in the markets where internet penetration is still low. Now Feedback Earning Inc is regularly getting online research RFQs for the markets where the new online panels are emerging such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc. There is a lot of online survey sample demand for the middle eastern markets as well and it is still difficult to find good sample sources for these markets for covering all target segments using online methodology.


I have been observing that many studies we were conducting face to face or at CLT locations in Pakistan are now being conducted using online research panels.


What are the major reasons of low internet penetration and hindrances in conducting online research in these countries?


The major reasons of low internet penetration in many of the countries are:


·         Lack of infrastructure and related facilities such as poor availability of electricity particularly in semi-urban and rural areas

·         Higher prices / affordability issues of having internet devices and facilities.

·         Low literacy rate (one of the top reasons)


These reasons cause inaccessibility of the lower socio economic classes and respondents from the rural areas while using the online methodology, which make the research studies non representative. Particularly, for the research studies, requiring true representative sample; such as, opinion polls and political surveys, Online Panels become less suitable, in the countries with low internet penetration.


Then how Online Survey Methodology is still relevant for the markets where Internet penetration is still low and why this methodology is picking up!!!


The answer is that majority of the marketing research studies we are conducting in different countries such as Pakistan using traditional research methodologies are focused on metropolitan cities and among  upper socio economic classes such as SEC A, B & C ;  these are the target segments  or major markets for most of the well-known local and global brands. These segments have more buying power than the remaining segments! These primary target groups, many a times, also have trickledown effects on the secondary markets so measurements from the primary groups provide good estimates / directions for the secondary groups as well. Therefore, most of the time clients don’t invest their time and money on targeting secondary and less important segments. As internet penetration remain always higher in metro cities and among upper SECs, Online Research becomes more effective than the  other traditional data collection methods such as face to face household surveys, telephone surveys etc . Therefore, brands have started leveraging the benefits of having online research methodology even in these low internet penetrated countries.


Even when studies require nationally representative sample, marketing research companies takes benefit of using hybrid research method to cover some sample online and the remaining using offline methods.


How majority of the brands can take benefits of online survey methodology in low internet penetrated markets?


Not all marketing research studies require the representative sample such as advertisement / concept development, concept testing, satisfaction surveys, offer optimization, pricing studies, campaign evaluation etc so any study which doesn’t require the representative sample, can and should avail the benefits associated with online research methodology.


The premium brands catering to the upper classes can particularly take more benefits of online survey methodology as they can effectively access to their target groups using this methodology that is usually quite difficult using other data collection methodologies.


Using sample replication technique e.g. quota implementation on demographics and category brands in online research studies can yield same or better results relatively in faster turnaround time than any other data collection methodology. Sometimes knowing and applying proper weighting schemes on the results also make the results much more consistent with the offline data collection techniques.  In fact, properly designed online marketing research surveys can produce much better insights for majority of the marketing research studies even in the low internet penetrated countries!


What are the major benefits for the brands and for the MR Agencies of the online research in the markets where internet penetration is growing?


1.    Turnaround time and cost are the two well accepted benefits of Online research as compared to other conventional methods of data collection; reliability, accuracy and confidentiality / security being other benefits.


2.    Online research methodology helps generating better insights than other methodologies because online studies are, by definition, targeted to highly literate respondents who are more discerning, articulate and vocal in terms of expressing their opinions / suggestions / ideas, as found in many online studies in Pakistan.


3.    Global studies can be conducted in same / international language in multiple countries such as in English to avoid translation and back translation issues. In few of the recent studies in Pakistan we provided both English and Urdu Languages options to our panelists and found that less than 15% opted to choose Urdu and vast majority of the panelists preferred to respond in English! Even we conducted many surveys in English language only and found wonderful responses with open ended questions as well.


4.    Online Panels hosted by panel exchange companies can be directly accessed by the global brands and research agencies using fully transparent systems such as Cint Access tool and many other online survey tools connected directly with the panel exchange system.


About the Author:


Rashid Mehmood, having more than two decades experience in MR industry, is currently looking after research studies at where he is building and managing online research panels around many major markets of the world. Particularly he is passionate to help clients in South Asian and Middle Eastern markets for both online and offline studies.

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