GRBN Global Trust Survey: Building Trust

Originally published on, 26th April 2024.

For a reputable panel company, gaining and maintaining trust from all stakeholders, clients and panel members, is and has always been critical. In 2024, the presence of AI continues to grow. In our daily lives, proving our humanity when making an online purchase has become the norm. So, it is little wonder that the humanity of market research data is also questioned. As AI grows more sophisticated, so do the defences against the bots in an endless game of cat and mouse. In this context, Rakuten Insight will take an in-depth look at how reputable panel companies gain and maintain trust, not just from the client point of view but also from the point of view of panel members who complete surveys.

For a panel company, securing and maintaining the trust of panel members is critical to the business. Without trust, there would be no members to complete research surveys. In Japan, trust is particularly difficult to gain and easy to lose. There is a cultural mix of high expectations, high attention to detail and one of the most sophisticated customer service markets in the world. As such, panel companies operating in Japan have developed and adopted many actions into daily workflows to maintain trust. ‘

In Japan, prior to registration, the panel company’s brand name is the first point of reassurance. It is a common goal for research agencies to get their brand name into the mainstream media. This brand name provides panel members with enough trust to take the first step. Registration then offers panellists double opt-in as well as clear communication of how their personal data will be protected and used. Japanese consumers generally appreciate this additional reassurance on what they can expect by being a member, what incentives they can expect and how those incentives can be used. There is a cultural expectation to be provided with more information rather than less. The additional information reassures more than if the information is quick and easy to understand. Once a member has signed up to a panel, it is essential that promises are adhered to and expectations are met, in order to maintain the trust.

The next key touchpoint in maintaining the trust of panel members is when they are invited to take a survey. Prior to any survey being conducted, reputable panel companies usually sends a message to panellists so the member always knows the survey topic and the incentive they will receive. In addition, the survey is always checked prior to being sent to members, so that, if required, any message can be tailored.

For example, panel members would be alerted to any surveys which contain questions on sensitive topics, political viewpoints or data privacy.  These messages maintain a neutral tone to avoid any influence on the data, but the messages are key in showing the company cares and building trust.

Once entering the survey, translation is key for panel members in Japan. Badly translated questionnaires can damage trust, providing the image that the company does not care what content goes before members. As such, locally based project managers review translations to ensure that surveys sent to panel members give not only the right meaning of the original but also the best impression of the professionalism of the company.

After the survey is completed, reputable panel companies help panel members in Japan to feel able to share any questions or concerns. Dealing with these inquiries, locally, speedily and professionally is critical to maintaining their trust.

Following the collection of the data, AI is increasingly used to ensure that the data is of the highest quality. As the attacks on the humanity of the data increase, so do the sophistication of the defences. Available security technologies, as elsewhere, are employed in Japan to ensure the highest quality of data is provided to clients. Gaining and maintaining the trust of clients is essential.

In conclusion, trust is critical for reputable panel companies in Japan. Not only in terms of provision of quality data but also in terms of gaining and maintaining the trust of panel members, who are the basis of the research findings and of the actions that companies and brands take based on that data.

Related articles: The Land of the Rising ContradictionsThe Land of the Rising Contradictions (II)The Land of the Rising Contradictions (III)

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