Survey Development – Direct Questions

In conducting quantitative marketing research, analysts have an arsenal of tools and methods that may be employed to develop insight. W5 consultants are constantly developing our analytical techniques [link], and a few of these methods, segmentation and conjoint for example, have become core competencies.

For these types of projects, smart study design is critical, but for the most part these analytical techniques are applied post hoc, in interpretation of trends and spikes that emerge across a large numerical data set. We love this type of work, but we only recommend such an approach if our client’s overall strategic and specific research objectives seem to call for it.

Sometimes, marketing research objectives are best addressed not so much through application of post hoc analytical techniques, but on the front end of the project – through development of a direct, customized, in-depth line of questioning.  This can be true for quantitative or qualitative research, really. This post is mostly inspired by some questionnaire development work I conducted recently: our client’s objectives boiled down to a need to understand specific consumer behaviors and to identify specific factors (both cognitive/rational and emotional/irrational) that went into decision making on the research topic.

We have a large sample for this project, so we’re sure we’ll be able to do some interesting post hoc analysis as well, but at this stage it seems we’re going to be able to provide real insight to our client because we started off in search of specifics, rather than through use of standard survey metrics.  Development of customized questions with detailed answer options made for a smarter survey instrument. We do often add standard, academically validated question formats to our surveys, but some studies simply require a deeper dive. This seems particularly true for technology and health care research, but could potentially apply in any category.  When I start a new questionnaire, I remind myself to watch my step but not hesitate to go down the direct questioning path.

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