market research

Its not a maths exam! Don't ask respondents to calculate percentages.

A client recently wanted to include a question on a b2b survey asking retailers what percentage of their sales of a certain product were accounted for by different brands. I took their request very literally and turned it into a question that directly asked the percentage of total sales that each brand accounted for. There was no problem with respondents understanding…

Surveys Room 101: My pet hates about surveys

As an experienced survey designer I often see questionnaires that frustrate me in some way, be they too long, too complicated or just designed without any regard for the respondents who are asked to complete them. I try not to let these frustrations affect my mood. However, there are some relatively minor, but recurring, issues that anger me to the point…

Knowing nothing about your client's business could be an advantage

In his book Seeing What Others Don’t, Gary Klein describes how true insights are transformational. They change how we understand, act, see and feel. As insight professionals how can we maximise our chances of producing insights that really make a difference? Perhaps Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (best known for writing Freakonomics) have the answer in their most recent book…

Should you really be using an email survey?

In today’s research world online surveys via email, conducted using customer lists or dedicated research panels, seem to be the default option. Speed, cost and convenience often mean they are the best route but sometimes alternative data collection methods can be superior. Below are some factors to consider before deciding if an online email questionnaire is right for your survey:  …

Think like a fox: Avoiding the direct approach to questionnaire design

The ancient Greek poet Archilochus was attributed with saying “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows just one big thing”. Hedgehogs move slowly and directly to where they want to go, leaving them vulnerable to death caused by predators and motor vehicles. Foxes, on the other hand, move quickly and tend to dart all over the place looking…

To pay or not to pay: using "incentives" in survey research

The use of incentives in research is widespread. Respondents frequently receive something in exchange for giving their views. But often the incentive is a relatively small amount of cash. Nobody ever became a millionaire from completing surveys. Increasing the value of incentives is likely to have a marginal impact on the level of survey response i.e. raising an incentive from £1 to…

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