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Who has time for surveys?

by Adam Whibley.

The number one issue panellists have with the survey experience is always, always, how long some surveys take. I feel their pain. People don’t have time to do 30+ minute surveys anymore and here’s why.

I broke down my day to see exactly how much time I might have to do surveys. Out of the 24 hours in a day I spend: seven and a half hours sleeping, 45 minutes getting to work, eight hours at the office, one hour eating, 30 minutes cooking, about an hour running errands or shopping, one hour checking personal e-mails, reading news or on social media—basically, the time it takes to do everything I do in a day adds up.

After all is said and done, I have about three hours to myself. The chart below shows my time spent on various things as a percentage of my day:

My first thought was, “Whoa! What if I had friends? What if could finally convince a girl to go out with me? What if I had a kid!? When would I have the time for any of them?”

So I figured normal people with families and the like probably have even less time than I do. So I went to find some data that might illustrate this point:

However, it seems the average person actually has more leisure time than a 29 year old 9-to-5’er. They sleep eight and a half hours a night, work four and a half hours a day, and have nearly 5 hours of leisure time on any given workday.

Whether a person has three hours or five hours of free time doesn’t really matter too much once we look at how people might spend their time.

I used myself as an example, but feel free to break down your spare time and see how much is allotted to other. In my case, I have about 30 spare minutes a day to do or continue doing all of the leisurely things I’d like.

So, in my mind, when a market research company invites me to do a survey they’re asking me to do a number of things.

  • Use up at least one  per cent of my whole day, eight per cent of my total spare time, or use up my last thirty minutes of unaccounted for leisure time.
  • Potentially cut into my other leisure activities if the survey is longer than 30 minutes.
  • Dictate when and where to spend my leisure time, since not all surveys are mobile friendly (I can’t do them from the couch – now I have to go and sit at my desk) or can’t be completed during my regular downtime (too long to do on the commute or at lunch).

Don’t get me wrong, I like doing surveys. I get paid to do them. It’s cool to see what might be out on the market eventually, and I get a say in things. I actually want to do them, but I can’t dedicate 30+ minutes to the cause.  What happens if I get two invites in a day? That’s 40 minutes to an hour (over 10 per cent of my non-working / sleeping hours).

All I am trying to get across here is that panellists literally have zero time to take surveys these days. If market research companies want faster deliverables, more data, while still maintaining its validity – they need to shorten the surveys.

Make it possible for respondents to actually do them when they have a bit of down time here and there. Help the people who respond to your studies to enjoy the 13 per cent of the day they have left to themselves.