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10 Tips for Designing a Market Research Questionnaire by Herb Brotspies and Suri Weisfeld-Spolter * [109]


Finding superior customer value often requires market research to solve a problem, identify an opportunity, or understand customer behavior.  Both qualitative and quantitative market research are useful tools.  In quantitative market research, survey design can be a challenge. Writing a useful questionnaire is part art and part science.  The purpose of a questionnaire is to gather marketing information that helps you make an informed decision.  Once you have decided on the objectives of the market research, how you will use the information, who your respondent target is, and any decision criteria, it is time to draft the questionnaire. Here are 10 helpful guidelines:


1.      Include a brief (2 or 3 sentences) introduction to the questionnaire telling the respondent about the questionnaire, thanking the respondent, detailing the estimated time to completion and assuring respondents of the confidentiality of their answers. This will help increase the response rate.

2.      Begin the survey with a screening question(s), to make sure the person you are going to interview is qualified to answer your questions. You want people that are familiar with your product/brand/ service/topic to be participating in the survey. The key to the qualifying question(s) is that if the respondent’s answer is ‘no’ to being familiar with or using the product or service, then the survey is terminated and the person does not participate. (Example: I am interested in the perception of Tesla customer service among Tesla electric car owners. My questionnaire targets are current or former Tesla owners. Therefore, my screening questions could be: “Do you currently own a Tesla?”  If yes, continue with the survey.  If no, ask, “Have you ever owned  a Tesla?”  If yes, continue, if no, terminate.) 

3.      As you develop questions, ask yourself the following to determine if you should use each question: “Does each question produce information that is necessary to address the research objectives of the study?”  If the answer is no, do not include the question. 

4.      Use a variety of survey question types including ratings, rankings, forced choices, and semantic differential scales, to answer your research questions.  Keep in mind the types of questions you ask may limit the method of analysis and quality of the information you can get from analyzing the data.

5.      Related to point four, consider using Likert-type questions when measuring attitude and satisfaction.  They are easy to construct and easy for respondents to fill out.  (Example: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements using the 1 to 5 scale below).

6.      When using semantic differential questions, make sure that the descriptors are true opposites of each other.  Semantic differential scales use polar opposites that respondents are asked to choose from to best describe something.  For example, weak and strong, indecisive and decisive, cheap and expensive.  Picking the wrong opposite can yield misleading results.

7.      Demographic questions go at the end of the questionnaire unless key demographics are required for screening respondents in or out. Ask demographic questions that are relevant to your research.  These might include age, income, family size, employment status, geographical location, and other information.  These answers will provide useful cross tab analysis by showing response differences between men and women, purchase interest in a product by income level, or influence of family size on product attributes.

8.      Be sure that response categories have no problems with mutual exclusiveness. (Example: Your age choices should not be 18-25 and 25-30 because if someone is 25, which category do they belong to?)  Also be sure categories have equal breaks.  For example, the age break of 18-24 has seven ages so all of the age breaks should have seven age breaks.

9.      The questionnaire should be easy to complete with clear instructions, clear and simple wording and be neat looking.  For example, if a respondent answers a particular question with a no, they are clearly directed to a different follow-up question than if they answered yes. (The pretest will help with this part!)

10.  Always pretest!  But be sure to pretest among the target respondents.  If you are conducting research among mothers with children who are heavy users of laundry detergent testing the questionnaire among college students will give you misleading results. 

* Herb Brotspies is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing (Retired) at Nova Southeastern University. For further information, contact Dr. Brotspies at hvb95@aol.com.  Suri Weisfeld-Spolter, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing  at Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at sw887@nova.edu.


Comments

  1. Making questionnaires or surveys or things of that matter are a great way to judge a company and how it is operating. People can come into trouble with this though because of inaccurate results but I believe this post really helps to minimize all errors. I will definitely be using these 10 tips in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These 10 tips are very helpful in making a questionnaire that can be accurate and resourceful. many questionnaires I have seen in the past often have information that is irrelevant or long confusing questions .

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really liked this article as I have been in charge and have many surveys to make in my current job. I had never thought about adding screening questions at the beginning of a survey because I assumed (wrongly) only relevant people would answer the survey. These are great tips I will utilize in the future!

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  4. These are all great points most companies should have down pat but don't. Often times the surveys I take feel too robotic, like they googled good survey questions.

    ReplyDelete

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