When it is important to collect information on trends, whether with respect to consumer preferences and purchasing behaviour or changes in business climate and opportunities, researchers may decide to set up a panel of individuals which can be questioned or surveyed over an extended period of time.
There are essentially three different types of panels:
The most common uses for panels are
- Trend monitoring and future assessment,
- Test marketing and impact assessment, and
- Priority setting for planning and development.
There are some clear advantages to using panels. These include the fact that recall problems are usually minimized, and that it is even possible to study the attitudes and motivation of non-respondents. However, it must also be recognized that maintaining panels is a constant effort. Since there is a tendency for certain people to drop out (those that are too busy, professionals, senior executives, etc.), this can lead to serious bias in the type of respondent that remains on the panel. Participants can also become too sensitized to the study objectives, and thus anticipate the responses they " should" be giving.
Related Readings (LaPage, W.F. (1994). "Using Panels for Travel and Tourism Research", Ch. 40 in Ritchie and Goeldner; Zikmund, W.G. (1997). Exploring Marketing Research, 6th edition. Orlando: The Dryden Press)