Michelle Bennett

How bias in receipt apps affects the data.

Influenced panels can skew consumer insights.

The number of receipt apps has exploded in recent years. Some of them are effective tools that help marketers generate accurate insights into consumer behavior. Others are ill-suited to this task because they were created mainly to drive affiliate marketing income. Their very design influences panelists in a way that compromises their reliability as a source of consumer insights. Your choice of a non-biased receipt panel will impact your insight- driven decisions.

 The Problem of Selection Bias

Selection bias can occur when a study systematically influences participants to make their behavior inconsistent with the population they are supposed to represent. When this happens, the “insights” generated from the data source are fundamentally skewed.

This problem is difficult to avoid when you use receipt apps that are designed to make money from “affiliate commissions” collected from the brands the app partners with. These apps deliver promotional offers to consumers on behalf of other companies, including CPG companies. And these coupons and deals are designed to spur app users to buy certain CPG products or shop at certain stores.

The result is that the app itself directly influences the purchase behavior of these app participants, by design. And this influence undermines the ability of these panels to give you accurate insights. At first glance, some of these panels may seem appealing for consumer insights because they boast large numbers of panelists. But the size is irrelevant when the panel design itself prevents you from uncovering the true purchasing behavior of the real consumer populations you are looking to study.

Panels influenced by special promotions and coupons can give you inaccurate data on a wide range of measures, including:

  • How your sales stack up to competitors
  • Your number of new buyers
  • Total basket size
  • Shifts in purchase behaviors
  • Demographic-specific purchasing behaviors

Unbiased receipt apps provide better insights.

The solution

To avoid misleading, inaccurate results, it’s important to choose a consumer insights provider that leverages data from a receipt app that was designed with a focus on building a consumer insights panel. These apps do not try to influence participants’ purchasing behaviors. The app management and incentive structure these panels incorporate is instead designed specifically to minimize selection bias and keep panelists engaged. Their goal by design is to encourage panelists to scan all their receipts so you can track their actual, unbiased purchasing behavior more fully and accurately.

Panels built from receipt apps that are designed to sway consumer behavior can lead to bad decisions that cost your company time and money. Unbiased information is essential to get a true read of consumer behavior, the drivers of customer loyalty and the triggers of customer churn. By choosing a receipt panel designed for the purpose of generating accurate consumer insights, you can avoid the affiliate marketing trap and all the distortions that accompany it. And you can make decisions with confidence based on the accurate, actionable omnichannel insights that only a well- designed receipt panel can provide.

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