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Choc rewards prompts survey buy-in

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Choc rewards prompts survey buy-in

It’s a question the Easter Bunny could no doubt answer.

How do you encourage people to fill in mail surveys – and then return them quickly?

One way is to give them chocolate, say Department of Marketing researchers Jan Charbonneau and Mike Brennan.

Past research has shown that the most effective way of encouraging people to complete and return a survey is a cash incentive, but sending cash in the mail is a breach of the terms and conditions under which New Zealand Post agrees to carry mail.

“We had to think about other incentives that might appeal to respondents,” says Jan Charbonneau.

Chocolate was chosen because it was reasonably inexpensive, easy to attach to letters and stood up to handling during posting. Milk chocolate was used, being judged a kiwi favourite. Whitaker’s chocolate was chosen because of the convenience of the individually-wrapped pieces and the flat shape which was more compatible with posting. Whitaker’s also happened to be packaged in blue and gold - Massey’s colours.

Attaching a chocolate produced a response rate of over 40% in the first wave, almost 10% better than not using an incentive. This is both managerially and statistically significant and important to both researchers and business people who want and need to get the data as quickly as possible, says Jan Charbonneau.

“I think people like the fact you are giving them something for their participation - even if it is a small token. Respondents seemed to like the chocolate with many sending back comments such as ‘Thanks for the chocolate, made me want to fill in the survey!’ and some suggested perhaps a bigger piece next time.”

Earlier this year the same pair of researchers found that the colour of mail surveys could make a difference to response rates, with purple having the greatest appeal.


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