08 Jun Why Municipalities, Community Organizations, and Governments Should Use Targeted Neighbourhood Survey Data to Support Evidence-Based Decision Making
Anyone in a position to serve the local community needs to be ambitious when addressing their residents’ needs and unique characteristics. When planning and advocating for community change, supporting your strategic decision-making with evidence-based information gathered by the diverse residents you serve will only help form a more profound sense of commitment to important issues.
When conducting primary research, the ability to capture data on targeted segments can quickly state the differences between neighbourhoods and communities.
For example, profiling demographics on their annual household income, accessibility to the downtown core, transportation services, walk score, historical and heritage buildings, environmental factors unique to areas, etc., can only enhance the research study.
In addition, neighbourhood survey data can allow residents (who are directly affected by the community planning) to have their say on what directly impacts them.
Neighbourhoods are unique in supporting resident engagement studies. Anyone who has ever considered launching a new community program knows firsthand that neighbourhood boundaries can define attitudes, lifestyles, demographics, income, beliefs, community conditions and trends.
It can also affect how a survey is conducted with its local constituents.
With the internet, the accessibility of reach has expanded beyond its physical markers – allowing municipalities, community organizations and Governments to access survey data at the local level. Yet, in many cases in Canada and especially in central Canada (where there are fewer people per capita and in less populated areas), reaching a local audience down to the neighbourhood level can be tricky compared to more densely populated urban centres.
The internet is no silver bullet to ensure a higher survey response. Still, when it comes to gathering insights from an audience at your neighbourhood level, it is crucial to explore all cost-effective and innovative approaches while prioritizing accurate and representative results.
In terms of reaching out to more localized audiences, there are several practices that community planners and researchers can follow:
Achieving Higher Local Representation in Targeted Areas
In market research, and particularly in areas where strategic and community planning needs to be so heavily accountable and influenced by representative statistics, it is critical to provide decision-makers with access to a credible sample of respondents who understand the nature of the problems we are trying to improve.
For example, suppose you were interested in surveying residents regarding the location of a future leisure centre. In that case, you may want to design the questionnaire to establish what matters to those who reside closest to the potential locations of interest – this may include local business owners, citizens within a specific kilometre radius, or legacy residents who have expressed concerns over the influx of neighbourhood traffic.
Establishing a targeted sample distribution to include the desired and most directly impacted respondents’ concerns fuels a higher response rate and provides greater potential for valuable insights and direction for the success of your plans. In addition, the targeted respondents will likely understand the issue at hand. For example, not everyone is an expert in basket weaving!
Consider a Respondent Panel
One method of ensuring the opinions of niche segments are captured is using an online respondent panel.
A respondent panel is a great resource when uncovering the complexity of neighbourhoods or niche markets like newcomers, young adults, agriculture professionals or even sports enthusiasts! Well-established respondent panels are often made of new explorers in the market or seasoned consumers who have shown loyalty to their community, companies, and brands they engage with.
Some respondent panels cannot only target the general population but can also quota segments of the population, focusing on niche audiences with geographic regions. Like SaskWatch Research®, a proprietary online community that comprises more than 18 thousand Saskatchewan residents.
Since 2008, Insightrix has dedicated time and resources to ensuring SaskWatch Research collects more than 100 different profile variables that can support businesses interested in the Saskatchewan population and beyond.
One of the key benefits of using a respondent panel to conduct market research is to cross-tabulate profile variables and benefit from deeper insights collected from respondents using rich demographic data.
Collecting Neighbourhood Demographic Data
Respondent panels are supported by collecting demographics of all levels. For community decision-makers, neighbourhood demographics are critical to social and infrastructure planning specific to household composition, annual or individual income, home ownership vs. renting, multi-car households, children still living at home, etc.
Urban data collected using neighbourhood surveys can play a role in how one neighbourhood may support an up-and-coming community centre or economic development project.
Demographic data can build a foundation for understanding neighbourhoods as they exist and where they’re heading. It can be a powerful tool for tracking change over time and identifying a community’s needs or strengths to inform planning, policy development or decision-making.
Collecting neighbourhood demographic data can also provide a benchmark statistic for whether a strategy or policy made a difference with the target audience. In addition, it can help shed light on characteristics or unique qualities that might advocate for community-focused programs, outreach priorities, marketing initiatives, and grant writing. In many cases, grant applications call for information about the local community, the target population, or a specific audience that might benefit from the activity or work funded by the grant.
Targeting urban populations to conduct research has never been easier. Here are five ways to start surveying at the neighbourhood level (online, by telephone or in-person!):
- Tap into working knowledge of a community or a population to reveal important social or economic events such as the relocation of a business headquarters, or a significant business shutting down
- Perceptions of a new infrastructure project and the impacts of two years’ worth of construction will have on community residents.
- Anecdotal information (like a new housing development plan that seems to be attracting retirees)
- Talk to service providers (community-based organizations) to get real-time information on the populations of interest
- Conduct a local survey that addresses the specific needs of your community and highlights differences and similarities between other neighbourhoods
- Presenting key neighbourhood statistics back to the public and in other marketing or communication campaigns in a way that makes citizens come together
- Interview local leaders and experts and ask if they have suggestions on those who should be included in the study to ensure their response is included
The blending of neighbourhood demographic data and local knowledge leads to actionable information, and analysis can be used for all types of community-based initiatives and preparing for (or responding to) local change.
As a market research industry leader, we are proud to offer our Saskatchewan clients (and clients outside of Saskatchewan) the ability to collect this type of information and the opportunity for local citizens to impact what is happening in their neighbourhoods and communities directly.
To find out more about how our respondent panel has supported advocacy and local initiatives or about municipal, community, online panels, or neighbourhood segmentation, contact us!