Market research now acknowledges that non-conscious processes weigh at least as heavily in decision-making as critical thinking, and that our intentions can be steered off-course by ingrained habits of mind – aka. biases and heuristics – revealing us to be fundamentally emotional rather than rational beings. This is a science-story that First Line will continue to follow and learn from. Beyond behavioural science, we must keep up with an increasingly mobile world, in which participants demand (and deserve) the same ease of survey use on a smartphone as on a big screen. And being able to understand exactly how participants complete surveys – on a second by second basis – allows those who invest time in studying the data to refine and improve online survey usability and accessibility.

Participant experience

Participation rates in market research are on the decline, to the extent that the credibility of our industry is threatened if we do nothing. John Aitchison co-Chairs the BHBIA Response Rate Task Force which investigates the issue within the healthcare sector, making numerous recommendations - based on a comprehensive programme of primary research amongst health professionals themselves. The resultant report has received senior industry endorsement.

Besides, there is much we can learn from HOW people complete online surveys that improves the quality of research. See blog entries on online research for more.


Two-thirds of healthcare quantitative research is now conducted online, and over one third of that is via a smartphone or tablet. In other sectors, mobile device use is even higher. All of which makes keeping up with technology essential.

In today’s social media and ‘App’ rich environment, user experience must meet or exceed expectations otherwise people will move on. If usability is bad, so is data quality. We test using BrowserStack® as part of a rigorous quality control process, and have built our own survey templates to ensure participant experience is as intuitive on a mobile, as on a desktop. See online research blog entries for more.

Behavioural science

Thinking about how to use findings from behavioural science in market research design has been part of what we do since 2010 when John Aitchison lobbied for, designed, and ran the very first workshops on “Behavioural Economics and Neuroscience” for healthcare market researchers, via the BHBIA.

Since then First Line has won other workshop awards (in 2016), as well as peer-reviewed industry awards (2014, 2015) for applying research approaches inspired by behavioural science to everyday research practice. See also our Behavioural blog entries for more.