A panel of consumers.
It is an option for studies that require representativeness at the territory level, where we need panelists or participants from all over the country, where we can also control certain census-type variables such as gender, age, education...
Panelists collaborate with the panel in exchange for benefits, are normally points redeemable for gifts or money. Once they agree to participate, they fill out the questionnaire, always related to their interests and appropriate to their profile, in said screening They fill in the different questions. in one screening it may be that the panelist responds to more than one study at the same time.
The advantages of working with a panel are several: representativeness, control in advance of certain variables or profiles, which will be on-line and, of course, fast, being able to collect thousands of responses in a few days, depending on the size of the panel.
The disadvantages lie in the cost, when compared to the typical samples of the non-probabilistic, accidental type, launched with the "snowball" technique through acquaintances and their contacts, normally between students, acquaintances, students, workers, groups from different social networks. Another handicap that is difficult to control would be the veracity of the answers or their credibility. When the panelist is paid for answers, it is important that there be veracity questions or some scale that allows, a posteriori, to filter the data in a more optimal and reliable way.
Other types of “representative” surveys and with a certain randomness can be provided by techniques such as CATI –by telephone- or CAPI –by mobile devices. Although the incursion or cold door that involves calling a stranger is less and less effective because it is a somewhat invasive tactic, attentive to the privacy of the person.
Obviously, building your own panel is complicated, especially if you want to guarantee geographical representation.
The most used panels are those of tasting of food and beverages, testing of products, advertising control, political opinion, from experts -more like Delphi-, of consumers of some concrete product, or the Bus where panelists give their opinion or answer various questions about a wide range of products and their categories.
The software The most used applications to collect data based on online surveys are Survey Monkey, QuestionPro, Survey Gizmo, Qualtrix, e-Survey, Voxco, Rotator Survey...
Some market research companies run their own panels online, here I show some of them already verified and in some cases consulted by Gaspar Berbel –responsible for research and market prospects at Aptabel.com, professor and researcher at the EUMediterrani University (UdG) –in the degrees of tourism, marketing and logistics: