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Similarity between Iphones and Survey Panels

February 22, 2012 · 2 comments

in Business

Iphone & Online PanelsHave you ever thought about what the similarities are between an IPhone and an online survey panel? If you are a normal person, my guess is no………until now. The truth is, IPhones and online panels are more alike than one might think.

Information Age

Let us start with the information we have before us. We are in the midst of an information age. With an IPhone (or any smart phone for that matter), and a good internet connection, we can download more information in an hour than you could digest in a lifetime.

How do we know that the information we consume is accurate and not just a hodgepodge of unproven facts? Answer: we don’t. Not completely at least. We must reference other authors who’ve written on the same subject matter, and compare and contrast what has been written until we gather what we feel is the general consensus on the subject at hand. Just as we can do that with subjects online, we can do that with the market research we do through online panels.

Survey Panels

With online panels, often times a market researcher will gather a sample large enough to be statistically significant with a 5% margin of error or smaller. With the kinds of studies that are done, people’s preferences and feelings are brought to the forefront.

What if one person’s answers to the questions presented are quite biased according to their preferences and not in line with the masses? Answer: Duh, of course they are. ☺ It is for this very purpose that an average is tallied for people’s responses and the market research being done can be applied to an entire market.

Comparison Between Iphones and Online Surveys

The second comparison we would like to make refers to how fragile both IPhones and online surveys can be. All it takes is one broken piece to bring a well oiled machine to its knees.

A few months back when I was updating my operating system on my iPhone, I apparently didn’t load the software properly and when I thought I was done I had no contacts saved in my phone I couldn’t even make a phone call to anyone.

My expensive new phone had become an obsolete worthless paperweight without the correct software. It felt like one of those dreams you had as a kid where you see the scary man and try to run away from him, but you’re stuck. He catches up to you and just before he gets you, you scream and wake up from your nightmare. That’s how it felt with my phone, and that’s how it feels with online panels when your survey isn’t set up correctly.

Using Quality Data

Much like my obsolete IPhone, online survey data become obsolete when we use poorly worded qualifying questions (Qualifying question-defined as a question used at the beginning of a survey to ensure that the respondent matches the surveys requirements for respondents). Respondents can be screened out of the survey at this point or loaded or misleading words or phrases.

In fact, a poorly worded or misinterpreted qualifying question doing this kind of market research can bias an entire study essentially nullifying the conclusions reached in a study. By using a poorly phrased or misleading question, you wouldn’t even know if the respondents were really qualified to participate in your study from the beginning.


In summary, both with our IPhones, and online panels we must be careful that the information we gather truly reflects the opinions of the majority, and that we’ve prescreened correctly in our panel so as not to nullify the accuracy an entire sample of responses.

If we fail to do either of these things, we can’t claim that the results of our market research has done much of anything other than create a fancy “paperweight”.

Written by Dan Lee

I am Dan Lee from Qualtrics. We have the best survey tools available on the market today. Please visit our website for more information

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Martineau February 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm


I really liked your comparison. Well done! It is easy to make surveys say whatever we want them to say so it is always good to look at the qualifying statements.

Kevin Martineau recently posted..Decluttering lifeMy Profile


Jeffrey T. Sooey March 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

Great analogy. I agree that if we do not ask the right questions then what we have is a useless survey which we will not be able to use. Let us not mislead our readers and make sure that we prepare correctly worded qualifying questions. This will help us make an accurate market research that will be a benefit to us.


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