The Dos and Don’ts of Online Research in Cambodia

I have been in the market research industry for over 15 years since 2006. Cambodia at that time used only Face-to-Face interviews with pen and paper for data collection. I remember during that time we had a lot of processes to go through in order to ensure the quality of the fieldwork of each project. Until 2010, some companies started implementing Face-to-Face interviews with CAPI for their data collection to make the process easier and a better control of the fieldwork quality.

Even now the Face-to-Face interview is still the dominant methodology being used for market research in Cambodia. The majority of projects in MRTS utilizes the Face-to-Face interview. There are many reasons for this but mainly because it is able to achieve the complicated and long questionnaire, difficult quotas and can go beyond the urban areas.

However, the need to have data fast to inform more rapid decision-making, has brought a new wind of change to the market research industry in Cambodia, especially as internet connec­tivity increases across the country since the last 5 years. We now have over 10.7 million smartphones​ (almost 70% of the total population) are connected to the internet. This indicates the potential for online research in Cambodia.

At MRTS Consulting, we are at the forefront of this, having built our own proprietary online panel and launched it in 2020.

In this article, I would like to put together a number of important considerations when it comes to the successful execution of online research in the Cambodia market.

1). Not too long questionnaire – the length of the questionnaire should be as short as possible to encourage completion. The length of around 10 to 15 mins has less dropout rate.

2). Keep it as simple as possible – something to keep in mind that Cambodian consumers are new to the self-complete questionnaire which means complicated questions such as matrix and the format or layout of the questionnaire that people don’t normally see when they were at school should be avoided.

3). Short and straight forward – not many people like to read so the question with many texts will easily lead to the dropout. The online self-complete is different from the face-to-face interview and while many people in Cambodia are not familiar with online research, we need to make things short and straight forward so they don’t feel bored reading and confused. The matrix question with many long statements to read should be avoided if possible.

4). Should not use OE questions – it is difficult to type the Khmer characters on mobile phone plus it takes longer if compared to English so people tend to write short answers meaning the results from the OE question can be short, incomplete and vague so we don’t recommend it.

5). Mobile user friendly – no laptop and tablet. Cambodia has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, with 20.8 million mobile connections or 124 per cent of the population. 10.7 million smartphones are connected to the internet. Data rates are one of the cheapest in the region at US$1 per 10GB.

6). Cover mostly urban areas where the internet speed is high – while the smartphone penetration rate is almost nationwide but the mobile internet speed is not the same. The internet speed in the rural areas is not as fast as in urban areas. Hence, long videos and too many pictures are not advisable.

Cambodia’s internet penetration rate stood at 78.8 percent of the total population at the start of 2022.

Data published by Ookla indicate that internet users in Cambodia could have expected the following internet connection speeds at the start of 2022:

      • Median mobile internet connection speed via cellular networks: 16.51 Mbps.
      • Median fixed internet connection speed: 18.96 Mbps.

7). Money as the incentive – we provide a variety of options for our panelists to choose from products in our store to mobile phone top-up to money transfer to their bank account. Money is the most preferred option from our experiences.

8). Khmer language only – According to the 2013 Census of Cambodia, the country has 12 major languages. Khmer is the most widely spoken language. Hence, it needs to put it as the default language to show from the first page if there are multiple languages to choose from.

By Phoung Vuthy, Managing Director of MRTS Consulting Ltd

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