Making the most of first-party data: a recovery playbook

Learn how you can leverage compliant, first-party data at scale to drive stronger business growth next year and beyond.
17 November 2020
online data collection
Caroline Frankum

Global Chief Executive Officer, Profiles Division

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The past year has been a stark inflection point: change being inevitable, but growth being optional, is more apparent than ever. With this past year turning out far from what anyone could have imagined or planned for back in January, the importance of reliable, inclusive, and compliant data has an even stronger purpose in 2020.

In today’s ‘always-on’, digitally-driven world, there’s certainly not been a lack of data available, and ‘big data’ has been a buzzword in our industry for quite some time now. However, in these new times of rapid and inconsistent change and a global crisis, where the crumbling of third-party cookies and increased data privacy legislation also add increased pressure to compliant data collection, there’s no guarantee that ‘more’ data automatically equates to ‘better’ insights.

Digital surveys provide a fast and cost-effective way to connect with people at speed and scale to better understand peoples’ “what” and “why” sentiments, motivations, and behaviours. But ensuring that the data collected is reliable, unbiased, timely, and representative of the ever-changing, diverse world that businesses, brands, offers, and society serve also now requires a more compliant and mindful balance of human-sourced but tech-enabled data.

Recovery playbook

As planning for 2021 is underway and businesses focus on how to recover from the impact of COVID-19 (coming out stronger and smarter), it’s important to reflect on the new learnings these unprecedented times and challenges have brought – including understanding the behaviour shifts and new trends that will lead to positive growth in the months and years to come.

With that in mind, we’ve created a playbook to help our clients make more informed choices for their businesses. By garnering the right data to understand people and inspire growth in times of inconsistent and unprecedented change, this checklist will aid a data-driven recovery for 2021.

1. Mitigating data risk right from the get-go

The quality of the data insights from the work you commission is dependent on the quality of the data that goes into the survey in the first place. So, first and foremost, ensure you are talking to respondents who have given their permission to be contacted and that the data you collect from them is done so in accordance with the different data compliance and protection regulations around the world.

Data should only be collected if there is a clear purpose for its collection, and the use cases for any data that is collected must be made clear to all respondents before it is collected. Ensure this is supported with sources that actively work to predict and identify fraudulent behaviour and mitigate the damage that might cause to your final data sets.

2. Optimising business growth with inclusive and diverse data

Reflecting the real world we serve is imperative to staying relevant in times of change and uncertainty. Taking a people-first approach is therefore key to collecting representative ‘what’ and ‘why’ data – and compliant online access panels provide a trusted way of doing this at scale.

For example, Kantar’s online access panels are all ‘opt-in’ by nature. We welcome everyone who wants to join our proprietary LifePoints Panels, regardless of their origin, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, as long as they pass both our unique and industry-leading quality checks validating that they are not ‘fraudulent’ panellists. The overall representation of the panellist sample pool available in a country is therefore driven by those who voluntarily sign up to be a member of the LifePoints panel in that country, but we then ensure the compliant representativity of the specific demographics and behaviours required for each survey.

It’s also important to know what data you can and cannot collect, as the legalities and propensity to be able to compliantly collect sensitive data (such as ethnic origin) differ market by market. For example:

  • US: “Ethnicity” and “Race” are key variables of the population census. So, when appropriate, quotas or sample controls are added to our US work via a combination of “Ethnicity and Race” questions. As of June 2020, data analysis shows that the Kantar LifePoints panel in the US is broadly representative in terms of available respondents for selection purposes across “Race / Ethnicity”.
  • EU: Collection of sensitive data is only allowed in the EU with explicit consent, and in France, it is not legal to ask or collect data on ethnicity.
  • UK: Ethnic background is not a standard sample and research characteristic for consumer survey studies and therefore not generally collected or measured as standard practice. However, in June 2020, Kantar conducted a survey in the UK, which added a consent question enabling us to compliantly collect data on 18 classifications of ethnic origin. The results show that Kantar’s LifePoints panel in the UK is broadly in line with the 2011 Census data, with 1% of respondents opting out of answering this question, and <1% selecting ‘prefer not to state’.
  • Other Markets: There will be local specific requirements about data collection and / or there is no specific data available. But in general, particularly sensitive data points are not collected as typically they are not part of the requirements of the research.

3. Making data more actionable with honest response techniques

Whilst misreporting is not necessarily conscious behaviour from panellists, there can be times when survey respondents over and under claim on certain answers. For example, Kantar has found that respondents are more likely to say they do socially desirable activities (like vote, recycle or buy organic food) and less likely to say they do socially undesirable activities (like smoking, watching reality TV or eating fast food) than they actually do in reality.

So, proactively limiting dishonesty in data collection is key to ensuring true behaviour shifts are identified in times of change (like during COVID-19), to build recovery and growth strategies from. You can apply simple techniques to your survey designs that address this, and complement these techniques with a narrative created from our tested ways of asking online respondents questions. These techniques ensure respondents feel their time investment is worthwhile and experience engaging – not forgetting, of course, that the best gut check of all is taking the survey yourself to see how much you enjoy the experience!

Helping you collect honest and insightful feedback from the consumers, patients, physicians, citizens, and audiences who are important to you has always been key to our mission: to understand people and inspire growth in an extraordinary world. But we are now able to go that extra mile when it comes to pivoting at speed and scale to provide you with honest, compliant, representative, first-party data – even in times of unexpected change and uncertainty.

4. Reaching answers when you need them most with flexible, quick-turn survey solutions

As mentioned, 2020 has taught us many things, including the need for brands to rapidly respond and pivot in this fast paced, changing world. And to do this, it is increasingly important to be able to quickly and easily reach the data you need to enable you to respond in a fast and informed way. Whether it’s to gain a quick pulse check around current sentiment or behaviours, a more efficient way to run the same repeat surveys, such as concept and AB testing or product comparisons, the need for speed and reliable data is one that applies both now and in the future.

5. Efficiently connecting first and third-party data to enhance audience understanding

We live in a world full of data. But connecting those sources effectively can be a big challenge. Advances in technology mean that AI-driven solutions bring new ways of connecting and activating data that enhance your existing data set, deliver deeper understanding, and create efficiencies for targeting audiences in media activation.

But it's important to tread carefully. Consent and compliance are a key foundation when connecting data, both to safeguard respondents and ensure their data is used responsibly, but also to ensure the data you do access gives you great results. 

Want to know more? Speak to our expert team today to learn how you can leverage compliant, first-party data at scale to drive stronger business growth in 2021 and beyond.

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