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Myth Buster 2 – Myth: I believe that my agencies are focused on participant engagement. Busted: In reality, very few are.

One thing that became very clear during our discussions with end clients was that they have a high degree of trust in the agencies they work with. This trust is of course a very good thing.

What surprised us was that this trust extended to trust that the agencies are taking care of participant engagement. This trust is not such a good thing.


There appears to be a kind of blind trust, almost wishful thinking, that agencies are taking care of participant engagement, along the lines of… ‘I trust my agencies to be delivering insights based on high quality data and therefore they must be focused on participant engagement.’

“I have high level of trust on my supplier partners, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing here… (nervous laugh)”

Over the last few years, I have talked to a large number of agency representatives about this. As yet, I have not come across a single agency which has participant engagement as a senior management KPI, and as we all know if it is not being measured at that level, if it is not impacting senior management bonuses, the chances are that it is not part of the agency’s strategic plan, and therefore it is not something which the agency is investing time or money on.

Obviously, I haven’t spoken to every agency leader, so if you are one who has participant engagement as a senior management KPI, let me know and I’ll give you a shout-out!

This is perhaps a key reason why the experience of taking part in a market research survey today is largely identical to what it was 10 or even 20 years ago. The practices and processes being used on a day-to-day basis to create surveys are largely unchanged.


What we do know from our discussions with sample providers is that there is a huge variation in the user experience delivered even on projects coming from the same agency. Many surveys continue to be unsuitable for smart phones, many surveys are poorly designed and poorly written from a participant’s perspective. Very few agencies are deploying participant engagement best practices, such as those taught in the GRBN ENGAGE MR coaching program. You can see the list of companies which has passed through the program to date here.

What is clear from our discussions with both agencies and end clients is that there is a mismatch between clients’ unexpressed expectations and the day-to-day reality agency-side when it comes to participant engagement. This unspoken trust in agencies to be taking care of participant engagement is just happening in most agencies’ reality.

This huge variation in how agencies are taking care of participant engagement gives undue competitive advantage to those treating participants, (that is the customers or potential customers of the client) badly, and this is obviously very detrimental to the client and the participants/customers.

Our conclusion is that end clients need to motivate their agencies to focus on participant engagement. They can do that be showing their agencies that they do care. Read more here (Myth Buster 3).

Article source: Global Research Business Network (GRBN) newsletter

The Australian Market and Social Research Society is linked globally to 45 associations through its partnership with the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) and the Asia Pacific Research Committee (APRC). Click here to read about the AMSRS global network. This article is sourced from the GRBN newsletter.

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