What do your customers really want?

March 31st, 2009 by Jared Bothwell


Finding out what your customers really want is one of the key objectives of market research.

There are a lot of things in the market researchers tool box which help a researcher find the answer to this dynamic question. One of the question types most used by researchers are preference scales. Although they differ in name and length the basic structure of preference scales is universal.

When using preference scales respondents are asked to express their level of preference along a incremental scale. i.e. 1 = very unimportant – 10 = Very important. The issue with this type of scale is that respondents are often likely to express that most things have some degree of importance. This issue often translates itself into products that have a wide range of features as it is difficult to establish which features should be left out.  What then emerges is a over complicated product which often confuses customers. Enter stage left -  ‘Maximum Difference Scaling’.

Maximum difference scaling (or MaxDiff to those in the know) is a statistical method (an example of the science in market research) which forces respondents to make trade-offs between multiple options. By forcing the respondents to make these trade-offs it is possible to find out what is ‘really’ important to your customers and therefore what they really want.

The results of MaxDiff make it quite clear which features are the preferred features and they can then be incorporated into the final product offering.

Posted in survey design | 3 Comments »

Seven things to avoid when designing your market research survey

March 30th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

surveyfortunecookie1While there is plenty of advice on the net on how to design survey, I want to focus on seven things to avoid when designing your market research survey.

Why make the mistakes that most professional market researchers have already made.

My seven things to avoid are:

  1. Avoid long surveys
  2. Avoid convoluted & technical language
  3. Avoid multiple questions within one question
  4. Avoid asking respondents date of birth
  5. Avoid going live without testing your survey
  6. Avoid dull surveys
  7. Avoid roads to no-where

Avoid long surveys

I cannot emphasise this one enough. No matter how interesting you think your survey is to your respondent a long survey will kill any-one’s enthusiasm.

 A long survey will see a high dropout rate and poor data quality. Just because someone sticks around to the end of the survey does not mean they have answered your survey with quality responses. In all likelihood they have probably just ticked any old box in an effort to get out of your survey as quickly as possible. Remember, people are smart and they will find the quickest way out of any situation.

Avoid convoluted & technical language

Use language in your survey that is easy to understand. Your respondent is not going to run to find their dictionary if they have trouble with the language in your survey. When designing your survey keep in mind all ages, genders and education levels. This doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your survey, just make it understandable to your sample group.

Avoid multiple questions within one question

I call these double barrelled shotguns. i.e. Do you like green eggs and ham?, where would you eat them, in a box of with a fox?

Multiple questions within one question can lead to questions being on partially answered or not answered at all.

Avoid asking respondents date of birth

Avoid at all costs asking for the respondents specific date of birth i.e. DD/MM/YYYY.

If you really need specific birth data leave it at the year i.e. What year were you born? even better provide a year range. i.e What is your age? 16-20, 21-24 etc.

Avoid going live without testing your survey

Testing your survey is crucial for ensuring it works as it should.

When testing you are trying to find out if the questions work, i.e do people understand the question? and does the survey work – very important for online surveys and the like. This is your chance to ensure that your research project will be successful and you can now make any final changes. Internal testing with your peers and internal stakeholders enables everyone to get on board with the survey. A small pre-test of your sample group will ensure that the survey works in the ‘real world’

Avoid dull surveys

Make your survey fun. Keep the language light and breezy. With online surveys consider using video, images and other multimedia. This can help keep your respondents engaged.

Avoid roads to no-where

This is most important with electronically deployed surveys i.e. online surveys. Skip-logic and piping mean it is easy to direct your respondent in different directions. Just don;t lead them down a dead end street. Testing helps with this.

Keep these seven points in mind when designing your next survey and you should be on the right track.

Happy Surveying!!

Posted in Marketing Research, survey design | Comments Off

Market Research In-Sourcing

March 26th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

I have just come off a Webex online conference titled ‘Serenity in the Storm – How Researchers are Achieving Deeper Insight in Spite of the Chaos’ held by Quirks Marketing Research review.

One of the key market research trends that was identified during the course of the conference call was the growing number of companies that were choosing to develop their own internal market research departments and to ‘in-source’ research requirements. (bear in mind that this is a US persepctive)

One of the main drivers behind research insourcing is the rapid development of survey technology which has made running market research projects much easier. While the pros and cons of this were discussed it seems that market research companies will just have to deal with these developments. To be honest it does not phase us at all.

Here at Rock Research we have recognised this trend and have developed services to support companies complete their own market research. We have the choice of DIY surveys or we are also happy to provide consulting and guidance in the completion of market research projects.

This support can involve:

  • Survey Design
  • Questionnaire Design
  • Survey Sampling
  • Research Methodology
  • Data Analysis and Reporting
  • Research Consulting

This ‘pick & mix’ approach to market research means that companies can have the best of both worlds. The cost efficiency’s of insourcing market research with the expertise of an experienced market research team to provide support and technical expertise.

Posted in Ideas, Marketing Research | 1 Comment »

International Standards for Online Research Panels Released

March 25th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

The ISO has released its international quality standards for access panels for online market and social research.

The standards seek to place some quality standards on online panels and communities which is the  fastest moving space in market research at this time. The ISO standards are not the first attempt to provide some quality control in this area.

The Australian market research body AMSRO released its best practice guidelines for online research back in August 2008. 

All these moves are great news for consumers of market research who can feel confident that the market research industry is keeping up to date with new research developments.

Posted in Online Research | Comments Off

Market Research Rocks (And Other Groups on the Internet)

March 24th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

marketresearchrocksThe surge in popularity of social networking sites has seen an increase in the number of groups dedicated to market research professionals. While some are of interest to the consumers of market research i.e. the client most are of interest to market researchers.

I have to admit I was pretty dubious of these sites and wasn’t really expecting very much from them. To date my main interaction with other market researchers (apart from direct colleagues) has been via the Market Research Society (of which Rock Research is a proud member of) and I have found it a pretty guarded atmosphere.

What I have found with these groups is some really rigarous, interesting and sometimes entertaining debate. One of things I have found really cool and refreshing is the openness and willingness to share information that exists in these networks.

One group that I have found partuclary useful is Next Gen Market Research on LinkedIn. Next Gen Market Research while focused on the US has over 3000 memebrs and seems to be growing strongly.

Some of the groups worth checking out are:

LinkedIn Groups

The market has changed, the customers have changed, why should consumer insight be the same? Marketing Research/Consumer Insights have changed little since the mid 90’s and still offer only 1.0 Insights. This is a group for US professionals with 7+ y/exp who want more than traditional MR Read the rest of this entry »

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Responce Rates to Surveys – What can be done?

March 23rd, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

Responce Rates

Duncan Nulty has written an interesting paper titled ‘The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done?’.

In this paper Nulty explores some of the issues involved in deploying surveys and improving response rates. While the surveys that Nulty refers to are being deployed in an academic setting there are some useful tips for survey deployment in all situations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ideas, Online Research | 2 Comments »

Facebook Cripples New Homepage Poll

March 23rd, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

facebookI saw this on that Facebook have moved to restrict the distribution of the ‘New Layout Vote.

It seems that a lot of Facebook users are not happy with the new look which has helped spawn one of the fastest growing Facebook apps yet.

I can’t help think that bashing website changes is becoming quite a trend. As soon as a popular site makes some changes to their website a large number of vocal dissenters seems ready to mobilise and criticise any changes. Maybe the changes are not that good or maybe people are just resistant to change and the nature of the Internet means that an angry posse is easy to mobilise.

Posted in Online Market Research Tools, Online Research | 1 Comment »

Market Researchers go on hunger strike

March 20th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

hunger_pcketThis may be a first, I saw this on the Unite website  where it states that 20 market research workers at Synovate went on a hunger strike.

The researchers are based at the Synovate call centre in Auckland. The strike is focused on the pay difference between New Zealand researchers and their higher paid colleagues in Australia.

Currently market researchers in the Auckland Synovate office are on pay rates starting from $12.50 compared to $21.50 an hour in Australia.

Overall, not a very good look for Synovate. I hope they get it sorted for all concerned.

Posted in Marketing Research | 5 Comments »

Positive or Negative Customer Feedback – It is all Good

March 20th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

Recent market research undertaken by ING has drawn criticism from customers. In the NBR article, ING research draws suspicion, customers being researched have claimed that some of the questions are quite leading.

While the actual questions remain a mystery the underlying issue is that ING customers are a pretty unhappy bunch at the moment (largely due to frozen funds).

 It is likely that the survey would have received criticism regardless of what questions were asked. The problem here seems to be the timing of the survey.

I wouldn’t recommend delaying the research just because your customers may not be happy with you - positive and negative feedback is all valuable.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction | Comments Off

Online Surveys Add to American’s Happiness

March 19th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

In Five Reasons Americans Can Be Happy published in the Huffington Post, online surveys are cited as one of the contributing factors to why Americans can feel happy.

And no it is not because they are free. The article says that community has been reinvented by the Internet. Businesses are able to use online surveys in order to get feedback from consumers. By giving consumers an opportunity to provide feedback business can ensure they are still meeting the needs of their customers.

Those businesses that do not take this opportunity to listen to their customers risk standing on the tracks and being run over by the on coming train.

Posted in Online Research | Comments Off

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