Einstein once said ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning’ But does the count matter? Does every question lead us to the desired learning? The trick is not in asking questions but knowing how to ask the right questions.
Holistic market research requires us to either own that skill or learn it. This is all the more pertinent now that businesses are becoming more and more consumer-centric. We can reach a consumer-oriented solution only by knowing what our consumers want, when they want, and how they want, and we need to ask them the right questions first.
Let us first understand what market research is. A new opportunity in a business and its related domains should be analyzed first through market research as it gives us an idea of the viability and feasibility of the decisions to be taken. As precisely explained in one of our previous blogs, market research plays a vital role when we have to spot business opportunities, to understand our consumers in-depth, to understand our competitors and their approach, to grow in business, and to identify the right channels of marketing for our business.
A very powerful form of market research is primary research, which is best described as an entirely new form of data collected by asking questions to the existing and prospective consumers of our brand. There are multiple types of primary research implemented depending upon our objectives - Interviews, Focus groups, Surveys, and Observations. When it comes to collecting information from a large number of people systematically with a decision orientation, a survey is highly effective.
After a market research survey has been generated, rolled out and after our data points are in place, the next logical step is to analyze these points and derive actionable insights. This is a lengthy process through and through. In fact, the data collection process alone can take months, even years sometimes, hence, it is all the more important to start off on the right note. Mind it, Surveying could be cumbersome and non-conclusive if the number and type of questions are not appropriate.
Hence, we have put down steps involved in making a successful market research questionnaire to ask meaningful questions to our audience.
First and foremost, we define our Research Problem & Target Audience
A simple way to define our research problem and target audience is to answer the following questions first.
What is the goal of this research?
What problem are we trying to solve with this data? What sort of decision will this survey lead to? Where will it be implemented?
How will it be useful to the consumers, brands and products? What information do I want from this market research questionnaire and why?
What do I hope to understand about my target audience through this research?
What market is this survey targeting? Which segment is the perfect fit and will help in the decision making process with reliable insights?
While answering these questions, we need to keep in mind the following - the size of our audience sample, the channel, and medium of our survey, and the detailed characteristics of our audience. Several data points with only a handful of them qualifying the characteristics is a waste of resources with no conclusive results.
We can use a few online tools to also build our consumers’ persona as explained in detail in one of our previous blogs.
Divide the information to be collected into Information Areas
After defining our research problem, we put down all the information that needs to be collected and group them in logical heads which are our key information areas. This list needs to be exhaustive, because a single missing piece can lead to an unsolved puzzle in the end and the process cannot be practically repeated. We also make sure that these key areas are not overlapping or contradicting each other.
Let us take an example to understand this better.
For a market research survey conducted to design a marketing strategy for an existing FMCG product, the information areas could be Usage of product, Purchase behaviour , Profile, Perception, and Brand health.
Logically sequence your information areas
After the information areas are in place, we order them as per logic to ensure that the survey nurtures respondent friendliness. The flow of the market research questionnaire is kept such that the respondent does not get mentally fatigued in between, hence, it is also a good practice to keep the questions about the core purpose of the study right in the beginning. Some common criteria to decide this order are chronology, expected bias, and the level of critical thinking.
Some of the common structures that are followed include -
Start asking questions now!
Now, we can start forming questions within the Information areas. An effective way to create questions is to divide the information areas further into Variables and Indicators.
For example, under ‘Category behaviour’ mentioned in the previous head, the variables are ‘Purchase behaviour’ and ‘Usage behaviour’. Furthermore, the indicators under ‘Usage behaviour’ are ‘frequency’, ‘purpose’, and ‘type’.
Within these heads and subheads, the questions belong to two categories - Open-ended and close-ended. When it is important to capture spontaneous answers or when we can’t put together an exhaustive list of responses as an aided list, we use open-ended questions such as ‘what do you particularly like about Product X?’ or ‘What are the reasons for not using Product X?’
On the other hand, Close-ended questions are easier and quicker to answer for a respondent as they have options to choose from. The respondents are given an aided list, which is an exhaustive list of all possible answers. Here, we make sure that the options are mutually exclusive and are not open to interpretation.
We always go for short, simple, and clear questions. For example, rather than asking,
‘Have you used the conditioner at least twice in the last two months?’,
we should be asking ‘Have you used the conditioner two or more times in the last 1 month?’
Similarly, ambiguous questions are avoided because they don’t lead to a thoughtful answer.
Proofing, and Piloting
Now, when we have put down our questions in the market research questionnaire, it is imperative to check for errors and test it once. We examine questions against the initial information areas in terms of completeness and we run a need test (for knowing if there is any question that is not required). Finally, we run it informally to know if the flow works, to check if any contradictory answers are emerging, or if any questions are heavy on the respondents' memory, and to assure the length of the survey is correct.
Before rolling out the market research survey online or online, it is crucial to examine the survey as a whole once. Hence, we ensure to provide context to the respondents in the form of reasons. Also, we set the expectations for the participants concerning length, time taken to complete it and a progress bar within the survey is always a great option.
While these are the steps involved in creating a market research survey, one wise thing to do not just while making it but also executing it is to follow logic and common sense. Remember, a true researcher should always remove his cloak of views and biases before starting to work on a survey because it is more important to know what others think.
Voila, our survey is ready to go!
Reach out to our research experts to know more about how you can create the right market research strategy for your business!