Building Highly Responsive Targeted Panels for Market Research Surveying

Building Survey Panels for Solar Power Market Research

The Challenge

Market research firms often conduct research on behalf of private equity firms looking for market-specific data to inform their business and investment decisions. Each market presents its own unique challenges for data collection, especially in countries with newly emerging markets in which people are difficult to reach through Internet-based survey methods.

In this project, a leading market research company was hired on behalf of a private equity firm to collect data about the use of solar energy products across three different countries in Africa; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. To accomplish this, the market research firm needed to survey people in these countries who were already active users of solar products; these were the people who could provide the type of feedback and insight that the private equity firm was looking for.

The challenge for the market research firm was finding these people. In regions where people are difficult to reach because of sparse Internet connectivity and unreliable electricity, figuring out who uses solar powered products and collecting their contact information, as well as their consent to be surveyed, is a significant challenge.

The market research firm reached out to Bamba to help them find these people across the three major African countries and recruit them to be surveyed. They wanted three distinct panels, one for each country, made up of a specified number of individuals who owned solar energy products and were willing to be surveyed.

The Innovation

Here’s how we did it:

In Kenya

Bamba had previously done extensive survey work in Kenya. Through this, we had built up a robust database of survey participants that could be quickly screened and recruited for future surveys. As a result, all we had to do was release our spider algorithm into the existing database and build a panel of individuals meeting the criteria we were looking for; specifically, individuals who:

  1. Used a solar powered system including lights and a charger;
  2. Were above the age of 25 years;
  3. Were the decision-maker in the household, and;
  4. Were willing to be surveyed at a later time by the market research firm.

During this process, we incentivized participation and indicated to prospective panelists that they would receive another incentive of a specified amount upon completing the market research firm’s survey. The incentives were in the form of mobile airtime payments automatically delivered over SMS.

In Tanzania & Uganda

At the time of this project, Bamba was new to working in these countries. As a result, recruiting individuals required slightly more time, but the process was similar; we used a combination of our algorithm and mobile airtime incentives to build up databases in these regions, and then screened and recruited members of these databases to build a panel for each country consisting of individuals meeting the above criteria.

The Impact

Upon delivering the 3 country-specific panels to our client, the market research firm was able to take these contacts and carry out their own survey protocol in order to gather the data they needed. The graph below outlines the results of this project.


Graph of Response Rates of Bamba-Qualified Panels to Client Surveys
This graph illustrates 3 main values:

A. Incidence Rates

The graph shows the approximate incidence rates for people meeting the criteria; that is, how many people out of the general population in each country had the solar products required to be surveyed, had the authority to make decisions in the household, were over 25 years of age, and were also willing to be surveyed. This number is important because when there are fewer people that meet the criteria within a given country, finding them is much more difficult, costly and time-consuming. It also doesn’t help that the incidence rate is usually unknown in the beginning, and can only be determined after screening.

B. Response Rates

The graph illustrates the high response-rates among the panels that were delivered to the clients after Bamba’s screening/recruitment process. The process of screening individuals and recruiting them for panels resulted in high-quality panelists who actually wanted to be surveyed and were already expecting to be contacted by the client. As a result, they were more likely to convert into datapoints for the market research firm.

C. Number of People Required to be Screened

The graph also gives a rough indication of the number of people that would have had to be screened by the market research firm in order to achieve the desired number of datapoints. In the case of Kenya, the incidence rate was high enough (78%) that roughly 1,987 people would have needed to be contacted in order to collect the 1,350 datapoints required. But in countries where the incidence rate was found to be much lower, such as in Uganda (where it was only 27%), about 4,470 people would have needed to be contacted by the market research company in order to collect the 1,000 datapoints they required. Furthermore, this number assumes that the people who ultimately responded to the survey would have responded even without being primed by Bamba’s screening and recruitment process, which may not be the case.

Here’s a summary of the process:

Flowchart - Panel Recruitment in African Countries


In Conclusion…

We were happy to be able to greatly simplify the process of finding and recruiting willing survey participants for this international market research firm. Our efficient, cost-effective process of screening and recruitment allowed us to partner market researchers with individuals in Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian emerging markets who wanted their voices heard.

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