The Expanding Role of the Survey Company in Africa

Over the course of the past few decades, the rate at which positive change and economic growth have been progressing in several African nations is both unprecedented and exciting. One of the main driving forces behind this transformation has been technology. In particular, a survey company might observe that the vast improvement in communications made possible by television, mobile phones, and the Internet has been serving to narrow the digital divide between Africa and First World countries and thus empowering consumers in many parts of our continent.

Although on the local scene, the greater portion of this new communications technology remains devoted to news and entertainment, the use of the World Wide Web as a platform for commerce has also been growing steadily. Like elsewhere, the gradual acceptance that shopping online is safe and frequently cheaper has led to its growth, along with a need for an online survey company to help manufacturers and suppliers gain greater insight into consumers’ buying habits.

To do this, the companies must compile a set of relevant questions relating to those products and services that are offered to consumers by their clients. The next step will be to circulate the questionnaire to a sufficiently large number of consumers. This is to ensure that the answers received will be statistically significant. However, the total number of questionnaires completed is not the only concern of a survey company. For example, when investigating consumer reaction to a new brand, all of those questioned should not only be users of the product, but the target group should also include similar numbers of both men and women of all ages so as to guarantee a truly representative result.

In the past, market research was conducted largely by face-to-face meetings between researchers and consumers or by calls to a consumer’s landline. Both methods often met with resistance from members of the public who saw the practice as intrusive and an inconvenience when they were busy with personal matters. Understandably, online questionnaires have since become the preferred choice of the survey company.

Apart from being a less intrusive way to communicate, as it gives recipients the choice to respond or decline in confidence, the data obtained from an online questionnaire is already in a format suitable for direct electronic processing. Given the rapid proliferation of mobile and broadband networks, the result is a much faster, cheaper, and more reliable means with which to conduct market research.

To ensure access to a sufficiently large and representative group of consumers, a survey company will often recruit a permanent online panel, rather like a specialised social-media group. Comprised of consumers of all ages, economic, educational, and marital status, and from rural and urban locations, this provides a pool from which to select the most appropriate participants for each questionnaire.

In Kenya and 28 other African countries, the world’s leading market-research company operates an online platform known as MobiWorkX to host its consumer panels. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet, or PC can sign up and will enjoy rewards, such as free airtime and gift vouchers, each time they complete a questionnaire for a client of the survey company.