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Why respondents don’t want to answer your survey

Why respondents don’t want to answer your survey

At one point in our lives, it is likely that we have all been asked to participate in a survey- be it online, face-to-face or over the phone. At one point in our lives, it is even likelier that we have rejected this request to participate in a survey. In light of this tendency for respondents to step away from requests to participate in research, GRIT recently undertook a comprehensive study to better understand the reasons behind this (and what could be done about it).

With the aid of other key stakeholders in the market research industry (such as Toluna, SSI and Research Now to name a few), the study was carried out in 15 countries, administered in 8 languages and completed by over 6,000 respondents across different mediums (online, telephone and mobile-only surveys). Though the report covers a number of points, two of the key takeaways are broadly summarized below and should serve as a reminder to both market research professionals as well as their clients, when planning their next survey.  

  1. Survey Design

Majority of the respondents indicated that the design of a survey impacts their willingness to complete the survey in its entirety. In this case, design was indicated to refer to aspects such as mobile/ tablet optimization; visuals (such as the use of text and graphics); length of survey, etc. Surveys that were estimated to last more than ten minutes were indicated to be too long, with majority of respondents indicating that the ideal length of a survey stood between 6 to 10 minutes.

  1. Incentives

Whilst some respondents participate in surveys for more intrinsic purposes (such as being able to shape important decisions, appreciation of being asked for their opinions, etc.) the vast majority of respondents indicated their main reason for survey participation was linked to the possibility of winning rewards or prizes. Whereas cash remained the preferred choice of reward across the 15 countries sampled, virtual gift cards were also another popular choice.

Despite the report highlighting some seemingly obvious points, it also pointed out that only one quarter of global survey respondents tend to be satisfied with their experience when participating in surveys. As such, in a bid to increase levels of satisfaction (and thus hopefully participation rates), the industry should not be so quick to overlook these basic building blocks and should seek to place participant experience at the forefront.

A copy of the full report can be found here: