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Market Research: What Incentive Should You Offer?

You want to offer an incentive to help you boost your response rate, but your budget is limited and promotional items like t-shirts and tangible gift cards will incur shipping costs. This is especially a concern if you have worldwide survey respondents. How do you determine what type of incentive would be most welcome to participants in your study?

Simple. You conduct a survey! While I’m not a market researcher, I did conduct an admittedly unscientific test using Google Consumer Surveys. I asked 1,500 consumers, balanced to the US Census, a very simple question: “When asked to take a survey, what incentive model is MOST appealing to you?”

We used a list of five common incentive programs as the choices: Physical Visa®/Visa virtual or store gift cards (which Virtual Incentives offers), access to content (the model Google Surveys uses), lottery or drawings (a common tactic in panels or user/customer surveys) and points programs (another model used by many panel companies).

Here is what we learned: 

Results were consistent across all demographic categories: age, gender, income and geography in roughly proportionate numbers to the aggregate, meaning that across the board Visa or store gift cards are almost twice as appealing as any other reward system. That is compelling stuff.

It certainly appears that when given a choice, survey participants prefer a model that delivers value and flexibility while speaking to their personal preferences that gift cards deliver. The research process is a value exchange by both parties: the research sponsor is seeking to inform decision making and consumers like to receive an acknowledgment of the value of their participation.

For your next survey, what incentive will you choose? Here are four important things to think about before choosing an incentive:

  • Consider a virtual reward. You won’t incur fulfillment charges and the respondent receives their reward instantly. We call that instant gratification.
  • The incentive should have broad appeal. You don’t want to limit your audience by choosing an incentive that any percentage of your survey pool couldn’t use.
  • It should be perceived as valuable as possible by your target respondents. If your participants don’t even want the reward, they’ll never complete the survey.
  • It must be cost-effective.

Virtual Incentives has extensive experience within the insights industry and we built incentive products, processes and technology to support market researchers. Ask us how we can help you with your next survey incentive program.

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Already know what you need? Enter the following pieces of information about who - and how - you want to reward and we’ll be in touch shortly to build an incentives program tailored to your needs.

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