WHY EFFECTIVE QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN IS ESSENTIAL
Questionnaire design is an essential element in the science of statistical data gathering and analysis and can make all the difference in delivering accurate and insightful market research.
The reason for this is simple – garbage in, garbage out.
“Good questionnaire design is a science in itself and sometimes people don’t realize how important it is,” says FI Foresight Managing Director Sissel Rosengren. “But getting the questions right is imperative to gaining data that accurately reflects the attitudes and behaviours of the market you’re researching.”
For this reason, the actual design of questions is usually a closely-guarded secret and part of the market research firm’s IP.
“Knowing how to ask a question, and the order in which you ask questions, depends very much on your target audience and is based around their psychology,” Sissel explains. “For example, a business audience responds differently to a consumer audience.”
A great deal of work goes into the specific wording of questions, which FI Foresight’s interviewers are trained to ask exactly as written. “As soon as you let interviewers ad lib, that’s when different shades of meaning can emerge and you lose the consistency of the research,” Sissel says. “Precise wording of questions and asking them in a specified order becomes particularly important in our market research such as market sizing – it’s essential to gaining accurate volume data.”
Given market research requires such levels of expertise in order to assure effective results, it pays to engage an industry expert in the particular field you want researched.
“At FI Foresight we have our team of interviewers led by our field manager, and that team works only for us. They’re trained and engaged specifically for the foodservice market and they work according to the quality standards you expect from professionals,” Sissel says.
Such an approach allows flexibility and is also cost-effective when compared to outsourcing data research. But the key reason for FI Foresight retaining a dedicated team is to ensure the quality of its data.
“Our interviewers know the market so well that we don’t have to go through a learning curve process, and we can quickly get researchers out into the field and generate data,” Sissel points out. “We can, for example, decide to put a survey out into the field and have it underway the next day. Market researchers who don’t have a dedicated field force just can’t move that fast.”
To ensure accurate research results it’s also imperative to use a correct statistical sample, and with many consumers increasingly reluctant to participate in research, this can pose a problem.
“We provide our interviewees with incentives to participate and we treat them as partners in the process,” Sissel explains. “All participants are carefully screened during the recruitment process and all their responses are checked by our field manager to ensure they have answered the questions asked of them. If something has been missed, we will then go back to that participant. It is very important to have this level of control of the sampling to ensure data quality – you need to be able to accurately determine if something hasn’t been answered correctly or is missing.”
You can read more about the science behind effective market research on the FI Foresight website.