KS&R Blogs


How do you ensure B2B panels are representative (globally)? That is a great question! And quite frankly, it is a question that I have been asked many times over the past year. Because internet penetration in key global markets is high (for both established and developing countries) – particularly among B2B audiences – B2B panels now have a greater presence and balance with typical online populations.

Let me start by clearly stating that there are no perfect data sources for business representation in any market – not even D&B or Hoover’s. Moreover, no single research methodology perfectly represents this audience – including online, telephone, and face-to-face.

Unlike consumer panels, B2B panels do not have a census-based reference point to weight back to in order to ensure representation. In our experience, the truest way to be assured of business representation is to compare how the B2B panel sample performs relative to other validated reference points like market share, penetration of users, etc. To the extent this information is available, the more assured we can be about the representativeness of respondents in the panel.

When KS&R first started using B2B panels, we did not take the decision lightly. We actually completed a parallel study for a major client (telephone-to-web versus B2B panel) to ensure that the B2B panel approach was not impacting the results and insights generated. Once data collection was completed, we did a number of comparative analytics and found both populations (telephone-to-web and B2B panel) behaving in similar ways across all key metrics.

The best B2B panels (like the ones KS&R partners with for international research) have a number of defining characteristics.

  • Recruited locally, from a balanced portfolio of recruitment methods to promote a representative mix of people (the goal is to ensure well-balanced and non-biased sample).
  • Both online AND offline methods are used for recruitment.
  • Panel members undergo a double opt-in registration process to prove intent to participate.
  • The panels are used only for market research and no other purpose.
  • Those panel members who are found to provide false/fraudulent information on surveys are immediately pulled from the panel.
  • Inactive panel members are removed at regular intervals.

Through panel recruiting, we have access to stated profiles of position, industry, company size (# of employees), company revenues and general decision-making responsibility. During a project, our approach is to invite panel members to our online screener based on their involvement with the subject matter at hand. Ultimately, representativeness is determined by survey screening and quotas within the survey instrument (which help us measure and compare to the reference points as noted above).

Our partners have extensive resources when looking to a B2B target. The table below illustrates KS&R’s access to B2B panel members across a few key regions and countries of interest.

B2B panels are not perfect, but as we evolve as an industry, they do provide a timely, cost effective way for us to turn data into knowledge. KS&R has extensive experience using these types of panels in multiple business categories, including technology (hardware, software and consulting), transportation, and healthcare/medical devices industry sectors. We have found B2B panel members to be responsive and knowledgeable of the issues at hand; and in most cases, found that relative to our reference points, the panel members do represent the intended audience.

Jay Scott

Jay Scott

Jay answers the tough questions. He believes better information leads to better understanding, and his clients come back because they trust him to get it right. He is an innovator, looking for new ways to expand the research toolbox, whether by technology or methodology. With a broad understanding of qualitative, quantitative and design techniques, Jay is passionate about identifying business opportunities, creating new products and services, and bringing them to market. This dates back nearly 30 years when he led research that extended the product mix for key CPG brands. The lessons learned are now applied more frequently in B2B situations, including answering tough questions in e-commerce, global transportation, supply chain and logistics. Jay holds a Master's of Marketing Research (MMR) from the University of Georgia. When not at work, you can often find Jay watching his daughter's soccer games or sneaking out of town to catch the Atlanta Braves.