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Careful market research design

Posted on by nanda

I’m often called upon to comment on a friend’s market research survey, where they don’t have the budget to employ a specialist, but do want to undertake some customer research so want to have a bash at it themselves.  Some common errors often crop up in their design time and again, so here are a few quick tips to guide you and stop you falling into the same traps …

1. Avoid the ‘skip’ approach, where you try to cram in every question possible – it’s better to focus in on what you really need to know rather than alienating the audience with a long and boring set of questions that they give up on

2. If designing an online study with multiple choice answers, do ensure a ‘don’t know/not applicable’ box where appropriate – this avoids people giving up in frustration or shoehorning an answer into the wrong box, which may then give you a false steer

3. Your sample design is vital – in layman’s terms this means who you are going to include in the research.  For example, if you put out an online study that anyone can respond to, you can often risk polarity of response, ie those who absolutely love or hate your product may want to tell you so, but those in between may not bother.  You need to be in more control of who is responding to ensure they represent a full cross-section of your customers or your results will be biased

4. What’s in it for me?  Some people think their customers or potential customers will be delighted to share their views.  But let’s face it, everyone is busy these days and unless there is a compelling reason to take part in your research, many won’t.  Professional research design usually allows in the budget for cash incentives, a prize draw, or some way of rewarding participants and ensure they are engaged and willing.  When setting your budget for the research, don’t forget this element

5. Careful probing – topic guides and questionnaires don’t always allow for the kind of probing which will reveal deeper insights than just ‘what people said and how many said it’.  Your research may need to allow for further questioning on why they feel like this, when they experience that, how the issues may be resolved etc, ie more open questions to obtain richness of response – yet there is some skill in doing this well without being intrusive or asking too many open questions and ending up with oodles of data to analyse!

These are just a few of the many considerations in good research design.  As you can see, there is more to it than just asking a few questions!  If you need more expert help, do give us a call.

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