It’s often said that the only bad question is the one you didn’t ask. Certainly for market researchers (and the companies who hire them), this is the case. The mighty survey, that storied list of questions, has become synonymous with knowledge and, in turn, power. Asking the right questions can help companies identify and address issues, create benchmarks and verify the efficacy of their products, marketing and/or policies and procedures. But if you shouldn’t refrain from asking questions, you also shouldn’t act without thinking. Before you start inquiring, you need to ask yourself how well you understand what market research surveys can and can not provide for the companies who administer them. Do you actually know what’s real, or do you just believe the hype? Here are five misconceptions to clear up before you start any market research survey project:
Misconception #1: Less is More
Too often people believe a market research survey should be completely anonymous, and while anonymity can encourage full disclosure, it shouldn’t be offered at the expense of really knowing your audience. Demographic information provides the data necessary to put survey responses into perspective and to determine if any inferences about the rest of the population can be made. Of course, you don’t need individual names, but a general sense of your respondents is vital for actionable research results.
Misconception #2: More is Better
In a world where excess is easily acquired, it’s easy to believe that the more respondents and questions you have, the more data you will get. But the reality is that quality really is better than quantity. To get good data you need to ask the right people the right questions. Taking the time to screen your audience for only those with relevant insights will ensure that the data you collect is representative of your customers at large. Likewise, the right questions will encourage an honesty that can be equated to the masses. Having too many questions or exploring too many topics frequently leads to respondents getting bored, frustrated and even angry, which can compel them to knowingly provide false information and/or quit your markets research survey all together.
Misconception #3: Platform “X” is the Best
Like most things in life, there is no “one size fits all” in the world of market research surveys. Your resources and, more importantly, your audience, should dictate your survey platform. An online market research survey probably wouldn’t work if your target respondents are elderly and don’t have reliable access to a computer. Similarly, a paper survey might not capture the attention of enough participants to make the effort worthwhile. Pick a platform that creates the best opportunity for you to reach the most respondents.
Misconception #4: Anybody Can Do It
Nowadays, there are many available online options for creating and administering market research surveys in-house. If you want to save money and/or believe you alone know best, it’s tempting to believe that you can provide the same integrity of data as a professional market researcher. The fact is that an impartial third party is often necessary for survey-takers to feel comfortable enough to respond openly and honestly. Professional researchers can help you craft logical and appropriate questions that limit bias, and they can help you critically and objectively evaluate your results.
Misconception #5: Everybody Should Do It
Every business should invest in market research, but not every business needs to invest in market research surveys—at least not in every situation! Surveys can be expensive and labor-intensive. Sometimes it might make more sense to ask only a few people their opinions via an in-depth interview or focus group setting. Quality secondary research reports might also be an option. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
Ready to Learn More?
Conducting a market research survey can give a company valuable insight about a population. If you need help evaluating when and why and how your company should create and administer one, contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR). Our experience can lead to greater levels of customer satisfaction and a higher ROI for your business.
If you're looking to develop a market research survey, download our free eBook "The Insider's Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys" today and get tips from the online survey experts at CFR: