Motivations to join a panel

In order to maintain high levels of data-quality, ensuring everyone of our panel member’s needs are met is of high importance. This includes meeting their different motivational needs and understanding the motivation behind online panel membership.

One of the most important tasks for our Panel Managers at Norstat is to build relationships with our panel members, that go beyond merely sending out survey invitations and paying out Norstat coins. Our goal is to earn their trust and listen to their concerns, as this is a precondition for getting open and sincere answers in surveys. One undeniable truth is that everything we do might have an impact on our panel members’ willingness to participate in the future and their overall response quality.

In order to maintain high levels of motivation and response quality among our panel members, we pay extra attention to monitoring their satisfaction. We know that the motivation to join an online panel and answer surveys greatly varies among our members. It is essential to understand the different motivations that drive active participation to ensure the continued high-quality of their responses.

What motivates Norstatpanel members?

In September 2023 we sent out a survey to our Norwegian panel, which included the following question: “What is your primary motivation to be a part of the Norstatpanel?”. Because we were interested in their primary motivation, they were only able to choose one option.


As expected, a large number of participants are essentially motivated by getting rewarded with Norstat coins or price draws. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We (and everyone else in the industry) use incentives to make participating in surveys more attractive, especially for target groups that are more complicated to reach. Therefore, incentives serve not only as tokens of gratitude for our panel members, but also as a method to equally represent all sociodemographic groups within our panel.

As a precaution, you should bear in mind that the incentives offered by our panel, like any other, will hardly meet the excessive expectations of so-called “incentive hunters”. There are a few reasons for this, and not just a matter of keeping our costs low. It is mainly because we don’t want to use monetary incentives as the main motivator to join our panel or participate in a survey. Instead we see incentives as a small boost for an already existing intrinsic motivation, a gentle push over the brink. When there is a complete absence of personal motivation to provide detailed responses in an online questionnaire, your answers are unlikely to contribute to informed decision-making. We should also consider that someone solely motivated by incentives and lacking any personal interest may not have the motivation to complete a full survey, especially a longer one.

Since we believe incentives should only work as boost for internal motivation, we try to reduce the communication of incentives to a minimum. Instead we make a point of highlighting motivators like fun, entertainment, diversion or curiosity. And indeed, a large proportion of our panel members state that they are a part of our community because they have an interest in market research or because they like to express their opinions with us. 

In the same survey, we had a follow-up question to see if there were other motivational factors behind joining Norstatpanel. We also noticed a lot of our members view it as their civic duty to answer surveys, as well as enjoying the opportunity to help businesses improve their products and services.

We see that many of our panel members have an intrinsic motivation for taking surveys, and that they don’t necessarily need compensation for it. If you look at the numbers, more than 50% stated their primary motivation to participate in the panel is due to internal motivators and self-interest, and not earning money – even when they were directly asked about it. 

So, what’s our point here? If such a large proportion of people have different motives than earning money, we should make sure that our research will meet their expectations and doesn’t seem useless to them. This means our questionnaires must be relevant, informative and even entertaining for all respondents. We also need to make sure they feel their voice is heard and that the results have an impact. If we were to view incentives as the sole solution to combat declining response rates, we would risk attracting more people who are only interested in getting rewards, while repelling those who wish to make a valuable contribution.

Interested to learn more about how we manage our panels and ensure high-quality answers? Please read our related articles below, or feel free to contact us!

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