There has been much debate regarding on-line research in Northern Ireland for many years. Unlike the UK where on-line research has been mainstream for a while, Northern Ireland has lagged behind due to the small size of the overall market and the associated cost of maintaining a sizeable panel within the Province.

However, recently all that has changed, panels have grown significantly within the last 2 years and are now capable of providing robust samples and actionable results even for many niche sectors. Of course, on-line research can also be conducted on an ad-hoc basis amongst companies’ own customers or through links on their website.

On-line research is ideal to access information and opinions quickly and is especially cost effective at larger sample sizes. Furthermore, it has the added advantage of the ability to show respondents stimuli such as adverts or logos.

The 3 main advantages of on-line research are highlighted below

1: Shorter fieldwork periods

2: The speed with which on-line surveys can be distributed is exceptional. At a click of a button thou-sands of surveys can be sent anywhere in the world or within Northern Ireland! All this whilst still maintaining the highest standards of quality. Of course, the advantages to the client are quicker and more efficient projects.

3: More cost-effective projects. There is no need for printed materials, petrol, postage or interviewer time for on-line research which usually keeps costs relatively low. The longer the interview and the bigger the sample size the more cost effective this approach becomes.

Ability to reach wider audiences

One of the greatest advantages of on-line research is its ability to reach a wider audience either geographical, culturally or indeed attitudinally than would have been possible in the past using traditional methods.

Use of on-line research will continue to grow in Northern Ireland and positively, we are now ready to embrace that change. However, on-line research will not replace traditional telephone and face-to-face interviewing methods completely, but rather add to the choice in the research toolkit.