1. General characteristics of data collection methods
Data collection methods for marketing research can be classified into two groups: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is usually identified with conducting various surveys based on the use of structured closed-type questions that are answered by a large number of respondents.
The characteristic features of such studies are: a well-defined format of the data collected and the sources of their receipt, the processing of the collected data is carried out using ordered procedures, mainly quantitative in nature.
Qualitative research involves collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Observations and conclusions are of a qualitative nature and are carried out in a non-standardized form. Qualitative data can be translated into quantitative form, but this is preceded by special procedures. For example, the opinion of several respondents about alcohol advertising may be expressed verbally in different ways. Only as a result of additional analysis, all opinions are divided into three categories: negative, positive, and neutral, after which you can determine how many opinions belong to each of the three categories. This intermediate procedure is unnecessary if you use a closed form of questions immediately during the survey.
However, why is a high-quality, “soft” approach often used? Market research experts have found that using large-scale research does not always produce the appropriate results. For example, Procter & gamble is interested in improving Tide washing powder. To do this, it is more effective to invite a group of Housewives and, with the participation of the company’s marketers, discuss ways to improve this washing powder (quality, design, packaging, etc.).
The following methods of qualitative research will be considered below: observations, focus groups, in-depth interviews, Protocol analyses, projection, and physiological measurements.
2. Surveillance and its role in marketing research
Qualitative research is based on observational methods that involve observation rather than communication with respondents. Most of these methods are based on approaches developed by psychologists.
Observation in marketing research is a method of collecting primary marketing information about the object being studied by observing selected groups of people, actions, and situations. At the same time, the researcher directly perceives and registers all the factors related to the studied object and significant from the point of view of the research goals.
Observation in marketing research can be aimed at achieving various goals. It can be used as a source of information for building hypotheses, serve to verify data obtained by other methods, c it can be used to get additional information about the object being studied.
The variety of ways to conduct observations is determined by four approaches to their implementation: direct or indirect observation, open or hidden, structured or unstructured, carried out using human or mechanical means.
Direct observation involves direct observation of the behavior of, say, customers in a store (for example, in what order they study products displayed on the counter). When using indirect observation, the results of a particular behavior are studied, not the behavior itself. Archived data is often used here. for example, data on the dynamics of stocks of certain products by year can be useful when studying changes in the market situation. In addition, physical evidence of certain events may be examined. For example, based on the results of studying the contents of garbage cans, we can conclude to what extent the packaging (cans, bottles, bags, etc.) of which companies most clutter the environment.
Open observation assumes that people are aware that they are being observed, for example, when conducting special experiments. However, the presence of observers affects the behavior of the observed, so we should try to minimize it.
These requirements are met by covert surveillance, when the subject does not assume that he is being watched. For example, stores may covertly observe how the seller politely treats customers and helps them make a purchase.
When conducting structured observation, the observer determines in advance what he will observe and register.
All other behaviors are ignored. A standard observation sheet is often used to minimize the time spent by the observer.
Structured observation is used to check the results obtained by other methods and Refine them. It can also be used as the main method of collecting information to accurately describe the behavior of the research object and test certain hypotheses.
Its application requires a good prior knowledge of the subject of the study, since in the process of developing a structured observation procedure, the researcher must build a system of classification of the phenomena that make up the observed situation and standardize the categories of observation. The classification system should be expressed in the terms in which the subsequent analysis is intended to be carried out.
An example of a structured observation is given below.
Let’s assume that you are secretly studying the behavior of orange juice customers in a self-service store when you order a company that produces orange juice of a certain brand. You have received the consent of the management of this store and dressed in the seller’s uniform. You record the results of your observations on paper. In order to make it easier to present the results of your observations in a form that is convenient for drawing conclusions, first of all, observations should be recorded for separate logical categories by classifying interdependent products into the following groups: fresh oranges, bottled juices, juices in packages, chilled fresh oranges and frozen oranges (table. 1). Then, for each group, alternative approaches are identified for choosing a product of a certain brand: a product of a certain brand is selected immediately; a product of a certain brand is selected after comparison with products of other brands; the product of this brand is inspected, but not purchased; the buyer did not stop at the stand with this product. In addition, it is desirable to divide buyers into the following categories: one buyer, two adult buyers, one adult buyer with children. It is possible to classify customers by other criteria (gender, age, whether or not they use a cart/basket for shopping, etc.).
Thus, the form of observations should indicate what type of behavior is observed and how it should be recorded. In addition, the form header indicates the name of the researcher, the date and time of observation.
Form to record the observations
Place of observation
Time of day
Structure of the observed group
Group size: ………..adult …………..children’s
Gender: Adults: ………..male ………….female
Children: ………………male ………….female
Registering behavior in the store
Behavior Fresh orange Bottled juice Jar juice Frozen juice
Passing by the product
Comparison of different product types
Selecting a specific brand
Careful consideration of the selected brand
Discussion with other group members
Other features of choosing a purchase
Use: …….. shopping list ……..calculator’s………coupons’
Time of purchase:…………….. The purchased quantity………
The above approach assumes the implementation of the original classification, and then conducting observations. Although it is possible to make an initial observation, and then spread the results of observations into separate categories.
It is better to use the first approach. It makes it possible to carry out observations according to a pre-planned scheme, and record the results of observations for each selected category. These observations are not random or arbitrary, but are carried out in accordance with a certain plan; they have a high degree of completeness. It is easier for the researcher to generalize the results obtained from different observers.
When unstructured observation is performed, the observer captures all behaviors in the episode being studied. This type of behavior is often used in exploratory research. For example, a company that produces a construction tool can send its employees to study the directions and frequency of use of this tool in the construction of houses. The results of observations are used to improve this tool.
Sometimes a human observer can be replaced with a special mechanical device. This replacement is due to greater accuracy, lower cost, or functional reasons. For example, when studying traffic, automatic devices record each car whose wheels have crossed a special plate. It is also more reliable and easier to study the family’s habits of watching certain TV shows using a special device than based on human observations.
Certain conditions must be met for successful observations:
Observations should be made over a relatively short period of time. For example, from the point of view of time and money, it is hardly appropriate to observe the process of buying a house as a whole. Although this can be done in parts, at separate stages of the process.
The observed processes and phenomena must be available for observation, and must take place in public. This requirement is not met, for example, by a private conversation.
Only behaviors that are not based on frequently repeated, systematic activities that the Respondent is not able to remember well should be observed. For example, a person is usually unable to remember what radio program they listened to in their car on the last Monday on their way to work.
Ideally, observational objects should not know that their behavior is being observed. In some cases, observation is the only way to get accurate information. For example, young children are not able to verbally Express their attitude to a new toy, but this information can be obtained by watching children play with this toy or not.
Usually, the observation method is used in conjunction with other methods. The results obtained in this case complement and verify each other. For example, if an observation is used to control data obtained by other methods, it should be as strictly structured as possible, carried out in the conditions in which the information it controls was collected.
The disadvantages of the observation method are inherent in all qualitative studies. Direct observation usually studies the behavior of a small group of people under certain conditions, so the question arises about the representativeness of the data obtained. At the same time, there is a subjective interpretation of the received data. Human perception is limited, so the researcher may miss or not notice some important manifestations of the situation being studied. Usually, the researcher is not able to use the method of observation to deepen the results obtained and reveal the interests, motives, and relationships that underlie certain behavior. In some cases, this restriction can be overcome, for example, by studying the reaction of children to a new toy. In addition, it should be borne in mind that the presence of an observer can have an impact on the observed situation. The size of this influence is extremely difficult to determine.
Observation is a very time-consuming method. Sometimes it takes twice as long to process the results of observations as the observation itself.
When using the observation method, you should try to overcome the following two drawbacks. The first is the desire to ” suck” all conceivable and unthinkable information from unrepresentative observations. The second is to use quantitative characteristics thoughtlessly. The way to success is the careful use of both quantitative and qualitative methods; conducting both large-scale surveys and observations in small groups.
According to the nature of the environment, the observation can be field-based, which means that the processes take place in a natural environment (in a store, at a shop window), or laboratory, i.e., conducted in an artificially created situation.
The results of observations are recorded using audio or video technology, in notebooks, etc.
The difficulties of conducting observations are divided into subjective (related to the observer’s personality) and objective (independent of the observer).
The subjective difficulties of observation include the ability of the researcher to understand and interpret the behavior and actions of other people through the prism of his own ” I”, through his system of value orientations, as well as the emotional color of human perception and the inevitability of the influence on the results of observation of the researcher’s past experience. In addition, observation is always subordinated to the purpose of the study, which outlines the scope of what is observed, gives it a selective character. As a result, the choice of facts for observation and registration depends heavily on the observer.
The objective difficulties of observation should first of all include the limited time of observation by the time of the event. In addition, not all factors of interest are directly observable.
The presence of an observer can cause the observed a sense of embarrassment, change the usual behavior patterns.
The personal qualities of the observer and their attitude to events can also have a serious impact on the behavior of the observed.
Observation should complement other marketing research methods and be used when the information needed by the researcher cannot be obtained in any other way. This is what happens when people do not want or can not sufficiently accurately and to describe in detail the sequence of their actions. In familiar situations, people’s actions in most cases become “automatic”. In this case, it is quite difficult for a person to say which of the usual actions he performed and why. In addition, the very often repeated situation becomes something given to him in his mind, and its features, its characteristic features are erased. On the other hand, with excessive emotional stress, a person acts as if without reasoning, on the first impulse, and subsequently he can rarely explain why he performed one action and not another.
Observing the studied activity from the outside, the observer can record its characteristics such as the sequence and frequency of certain actions, changes in the emotional atmosphere, etc., i.e., get information that is not available for obtaining using other methods.
In order to get the information necessary for research purposes, i.e. to get information about important characteristics of the object being studied, not to miss any important facts related to its activity, or significant information about it, you should carefully develop a plan and program of observation in advance. When planning, it is necessary to clearly set the timing of monitoring and determine the means of collecting information. In addition, it is important for the researcher to address the issue of limiting the scope of observations with the available opportunities (time, finances, number of assistants and their qualifications), as well as to take into account possible obstacles (administrative or psychological difficulties, difficulties associated with obtaining and recording information).
The following stages of observation are highlighted.
Defining the goal, setting goals, and establishing the object and subject of observation. Depending on the purpose of the study, one or a limited number of aspects of the object’s activity are usually selected as the subject of observation, for example, the route of the buyer’s movement in the store’s trading floor is studied.
Providing access to the environment, obtaining appropriate permissions, and establishing contacts with people.
Selecting a method of observation and developing a procedure based on pre-collected materials.
Before proceeding with the observation, you need to choose in advance the signs, units of observation, by which you can judge the situation that interests the researcher. As a unit of observation (and on the part of the observed-a unit of behavior), you can select and record any complex set of actions of a different nature, for example, the buyer can just look at a certain product, and can take it in hand.
In order for observation data to be understandable to other researchers, and the results of similar studies to be comparable, it is necessary to develop a language, a system of concepts that will describe the results of observations. For example, if there is a reaction to an ad in a store, then you should clearly identify and record various types of emotional state (categories): calmness, excitement, etc.
Preparation of technical documents and equipment (replication of cards, protocols, instructions for observers, preparation of technical equipment, writing materials, etc.).
After the plan is developed, observations are made, data is collected, and information is accumulated.
Here, first of all, you need to pick up observers. In addition to such qualities as attention, patience, and the ability to record changes in the observed situation, one of the main requirements for the observer is the requirement of good faith.
The observer must continuously monitor their actions so that their impact on the observed situation and, consequently, its change is minimal.
Each observer must be trained accordingly. Training an observer involves simultaneously developing the ability to see significant actions, as well as the ability to remember and keep accurate records.
It must be remembered that at any given moment, a person is able to simultaneously perceive from five to ten discrete units. If we are talking about a fairly broad field of observation, it is advisable to entrust the work to several observers, while strictly distributing the functions.
It is best to train observers using exercises where students keep records, observing either specially played or videotaped situations.
If this is not possible, the researcher can train assistants in the process of actual observations. To do this, it is necessary that he, along with the one who is being trained, be present at the observation and keep parallel records. After observation, the records of the researcher and the student are compared, and the researcher explains the most important and difficult points.
An important step in preparing an observer is to develop an instruction. A well-prepared manual facilitates the work of observers and unifies the material they collect.
The instructions give precise instructions on the criteria by which certain actions, events, and phenomena will be placed under a particular category. It also emphasizes the need to keep a record strictly in accordance with the existing categories. For example, an observer cannot mark” aggressive behavior ” if this category is not marked in the code.
The instruction should also contain requirements for the method of recording observed events; it may contain explanations on how to use the applied measurement scales.
If the recording requires interpretation of the intentions of the studied persons, then the instruction should either specify the principle or list the indicators on the basis of which the observer will make his judgments. All this is necessary to ensure that all observers evaluate the observations equally, if possible.
Fixing the results of observations may be: a) short of the record held by “hot on the trail”, as there is a time and place; b) cards that are used to record information describing the people, events, processes; C) the observation Protocol representing an enlarged version of the card; g) diary of observations, which systematically day after day are recorded all necessary data, statements, behavior of individuals, their own thoughts, difficulties; d) photo-, video-, sound recording.
Recording the results of observations is simultaneously a means of double control: monitoring the observer and monitoring possible deviations within the observed situation or process.
Unstructured observation (see below) often does not have rigid forms of fixation. First of all, it is important that the record allows you to determine what is only an observation, and what is in some way an interpretation of the observed events. Otherwise, the observations will be mixed with the conclusions.
Monitoring of observations can be carried out in different ways: a) by holding a conversation with participants in the situation; b) by accessing documents related to this event; C) by comparing the results of one’s own observation and the observation made by another also qualified observer; d) by sending reports on the observation to other researchers in order to repeat the observations.
The observation report must contain: a) thorough documentation of the time, place and circumstances of the observation, b) information about the role of the observer during the study, the method of observation; C) characteristics of the observed persons; d) the observer’s own notes and interpretations; e) assessment of the reliability of the results obtained.
Usually one of three types of reliability assessment is used:
observer agreement coefficient (the same event is observed simultaneously by different observers);
stability (the same observer performs the observation at different times);
the coefficient of reliability (different observers carry out the observation at different times).
When planning an observation, the researcher first needs to develop a hypothesis, based on which to build a system of classification of those facts and phenomena that make up the observed situation and meet the goals of the study. Without this, the recorded facts will be isolated, uncertain, and therefore meaningless. However, this classification system should not be created too complete and rigid. In this case, the researcher will be forced to discard all the facts that do not fit into it.
An observer who does not have a classification system can see a lot, but fix and define very little. A researcher who has a too complete and rigid classification system will most often record only those phenomena and facts that can confirm his preliminary concepts.
When developing an observation plan, it is necessary to determine the most significant characteristics of the conditions and situations in which the activities of the observed occur, that is, to solve the question of where and at what time the observation should be carried out.
3. Focus group method
There are four main goals of using this method:
Generating ideas, for example, about how to improve products, their design, packaging, or the development of new products.
Studying the spoken vocabulary of consumers, which can be useful, for example, when conducting an advertising campaign, compiling questionnaires, etc.
Familiarization with the needs of consumers, their perception, motives and their attitude to the studied product, its brand, and methods of its promotion, which is very important in determining the goals of marketing research.
A better understanding of the data collected during the quantitative research. Sometimes members of the focus group help you better understand the results of the survey.
Study of emotional and behavioral responses to certain types of advertising.
Usually, the work of the group is recorded using audio and video equipment, and its results can be the basis for quantitative research, for example, by means of a survey.
It is obvious that the possibilities and effectiveness of using this method are strongly influenced by the culture, traditions of communication, etc.of residents of different regions and countries. This is taken into account when forming a focus group, for example, determining its size, role, and degree of activity of the lead.
The optimal size of the focus group ranges from 8 to 12 people. With a smaller number of participants, the necessary dynamics are not created for the productive work of the group, and the leader has to make a lot of effort to activate the work of the group. With a group size of more than 12 people, it is difficult to engage in productive discussions. the group can be divided into subgroups where conversations on abstract topics can be conducted, and only a few people participate in the discussion itself.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the composition of the group in advance. For example, 12 people are willing to participate in the discussion, but only 6 people are actually present.
As for the composition of the group, it is recommended to form it based on the principle of homogeneity of the composition of its members (by age, type of activity, marital status, etc.). In this case, it is considered to create the best conditions for uninhibited discussion.
The choice of group members is primarily determined by the goals of the study. For example, if the goal is to generate new ideas about product packaging, consumers who bought a particular brand are invited to participate in the focus group. Usually, potential participants are invited to participate in the discussion by phone, although sometimes those who want to participate in the group are found among customers right in the store. It is desirable that the leader participate in the process of forming the group.
When “recruiting” group members, they use both a monetary form of payment for their work, and in-kind in the form of free provision of certain goods. Very often, on the eve of the focus group day, potential participants are reminded of this. In this case, if you refuse to participate in the discussion, it is possible to replace such participants.
It is best if the discussion is expected to last more than 1.5 hours, to hold it in a room adapted for such discussions, preferably at a round table, in an environment of peace and quiet that promotes mental work.
The success of the focus group depends largely on the effectiveness of the moderator, who manages the discussion based on a deep understanding of the goals and objectives of the discussion without direct intervention in the course of the discussion. It should strive for a balance between natural discussion among participants and avoiding the topic under discussion. The moderator must be a highly communicative person who takes a deep interest and participation in the positions and comments of the group members. Usually, even before the start of the discussion in the focus group, the moderator prepares a detailed plan of its work, to try to increase the level of their knowledge on the discussed issues.
When analyzing the results of the group’s work, two important factors should be considered. First, to translate the statements of the participants in the discussion into the language of categories and concepts of the topic under discussion and to determine the degree of consistency of their opinions.
Secondly, it is necessary to determine to what extent the characteristics of the focus group participants are typical for consumers of the target market being studied.
The main advantages of the focus group include the following:
The ability to honestly and freely Express their opinions, generate fresh ideas, especially if the discussion uses the method of brainstorming.
The opportunity for the customer to participate in the formation of the goals and objectives of the discussion, to observe the work of the group causes a high level of confidence in the result of its work. Sometimes the customer begins to use these results in practical work even before receiving the official report.
A variety of ways to use this method, as discussed earlier.
The ability to study respondents who, in more formal, structured situations, are not amenable to study, not wanting, for example, to take part in the survey.
To sum up, the disadvantages of this method include possible unrepresentativeness, subjective interpretation of the results obtained, and high cost per group member.
The fact that the results of the focus group may not be representative, in relation to the General population as a whole, they are determined as follows. As a rule, respondents who are more active and willing to respond to offers of this type in comparison with the General population as a whole take part in the work of such a group. In addition, this is facilitated by the small, usually homogeneous composition of the focus group, which may include professional respondents at the last moment.
The subjective interpretation of the results of the group’s work is due to the fact that it is possible to focus on the facts that support the point of view of the leader and ignore other points of view. Further, the customer’s participation in the preparation and conduct of the focus group may also lead to the desired results. As noted earlier, the customer can use the results of the group’s work even before receiving the official report.
The costs of using this method are determined as follows. For example, in the United States, the cost of conducting multiple telephone conversations is expressed in approximately $ 25 per participant. The reward for participating in a focus group costs approximately $ 30. The salary of a qualified presenter for one session is $ 1500-2000. In addition, you should take into account the cost of renting a room, the cost of using technical means. Typically, these costs are hundreds of dollars per hour of rent. Further, there are hidden costs that are not directly included in the total costs, for example, due to the participation of the customer in the ongoing research.
The use of modern communication technologies expands the range of use of focus groups. For example, organizing interaction between two groups that hold a session in different cities.
4. Other qualitative methods
The following qualitative research methods will be briefly described below: in-depth interviews, Protocol analysis, and projection methods.
An in-depth interview consists of a series of probing questions being asked by a qualified interviewer to the Respondent in order to understand why they behave in a certain way or what they think about a particular problem. The Respondent is asked questions about the topic under study, which he answers in any form. The interviewer asks questions like “ ” Why did You answer this way?”, “Can you justify Your point of view?”, “Can you give any special arguments?”Answers to such questions help the interviewer better understand the processes occurring in the Respondent’s head.
This method is used to collect information about new concepts, design, advertising and other methods of product promotion; it helps to better understand consumer behavior, emotional and personal aspects of consumer life, in making decisions at the individual level, and to obtain data on the use of certain products.
Here, first of all, it is necessary to achieve a benevolent atmosphere when communicating with the interviewee. To do this, it is necessary that:
the interviewer listened patiently and amiably, but was critical;
the interviewer did not put pressure on the interviewee;
I didn’t discuss it.
He can speak and ask only under certain conditions:
to help the interviewee speak out;
to dispel his anxiety, which may prevent the establishment of contact between the interviewer and the interviewee;
to return the conversation to a question that was skipped or not covered enough.
It is desirable for the interviewer to be attentive both to the verbal design and to the feelings contained in the words.
The most difficult task is to summarize individual survey data in the final report. When using this method, a tape recorder is used or detailed recordings are made.
The analysis of the Protocol consists in placing the Respondent in a certain situation when making a decision, while he must verbally describe all the factors and arguments that guided him in making the decision. Sometimes when using this method, a tape recorder is used. The researcher then analyzes the protocols submitted by the respondents.
The Protocol analysis method is used when analyzing decisions that are distributed over time, such as a decision to buy a house. In this case, the researcher gathers into a single whole the individual decisions made at its individual stages.
In addition, this method is used when analyzing decisions that have a very short decision-making process. In this case, the Protocol analysis method seems to slow down the speed of decision-making. For example, when buying chewing gum, people usually do not think about this purchase. Analysis of the Protocol makes it possible to understand some of the internal aspects of such purchases.
When using projection methods, respondents are placed in certain simulated situations in the hope that respondents will Express information about themselves that cannot be obtained during a direct survey, for example, regarding drug use, alcohol, tips, etc.the following specific methods that are part of projection methods can be identified: associative methods, testing by completing sentences, testing illustrations, testing drawings, role-playing, retrospective conversations, and conversations based on creative imagination.
Methods include associative associative associative interview and a test of words or verbal Association. In the process of associative conversation, the Respondent is guided by questions of this kind “ ” what makes you think this or that…?”, “What thoughts do you have now in connection with….?”etc. This method allows the interviewee to say whatever comes to mind. If some respondents have difficulty clarifying their level of preference, if only because of a lack of vocabulary, they are limited to a few possible answers.
An associative word test consists of reading the words to the Respondent, who in response must pronounce the first word that comes to mind. For example, words used in advertising, product names, and brands are tested. Thus, an attempt is made to reveal the true feelings of the respondents in relation to the object of the test. This also fixes the response delay time, meaning that a large response delay means that there is no clear Association of the tested word with some other words (nice, beautiful, ugly, unsightly…). For example, we tested variants of the names of a new soft drink. The student respondents matched one of the names with words such as ” light, Sizzling, cold”, which significantly corresponded to the real consumer properties of this drink.
The challenge of completing a sentence is to provide respondents with an unfinished sentence that they must complete in their own words. It is assumed that when performing this task, the Respondent will provide some information about themselves. Let’s assume that a tea supplier has decided to expand its market to teenagers. The researcher suggested that students from one of the schools complete the following sentences:
The one who drinks tea is……..
Tea is good to drink when……..
My friends think tea is…..
Then the endings of sentences are analyzed. For example, the endings of the first sentence are dominated by words such as “healthy”, “cheerful”. The rest of the offers are treated the same way. The result of such research may be a desire to promote tea to the market segment being studied.
Testing an illustration means that participants in the study are shown a specific illustration (drawing or photo) depicting people who are put in a typical situation and solving some problems, and are asked to describe their reaction to it. The researcher analyzes the content of these descriptions in order to determine the feelings and reactions caused by this illustration. This method is used when selecting the best advertising options, illustrations for brochures, images on packaging, etc., as well as their accompanying titles. Analysis of the materials obtained shows that in many cases, people transfer their own problems to the characters and, thus, it is easier to give information that they would not dare to provide directly.
Testing illustrations may involve recording in a free space above the head of one of the actors, usually depicted simply as an outline, his comments about the situation depicted in the figure, followed by analysis of these records. The interviewee must put himself in this character’s place and answer for him.
When playing roles, participants are asked to enter the role of one of the characters in a particular situation (friend, neighbor, co-worker) and describe their actions in the studied situation. In this way, positive or negative hidden reactions, feelings, and value systems are studied. For example, a participant is introduced to a situation where a friend bought an expensive car of a certain brand and is asked to comment on this purchase to a third party.
During a retrospective conversation, the interviewee is asked to recall some scenes, some actions that are indicative of the area they want to study. The examiner helps the interviewee recall and describe in detail what he remembers. For example, during a conversation, the interviewee describes how he smokes his first cigarette of the day.
When conducting a conversation based on the creative imagination of the interviewee put in a hypothetical situation. The method of conducting a conversation is to energetically encourage a person to imagine their reactions, feelings, and behavior that would be inherent to them if they were in a similar situation. He projects on the future their relations, feelings, views on the studied topic.
The implementation of all the above methods is based on the high professionalism of the persons conducting them, which leads to a high cost of their implementation. This is especially true for interpreting the results. Therefore, these methods are not widely used in commercial marketing research.
Usually, these methods are used after the researcher has already received information based on the survey that allows him to formulate several hypotheses, which will either be confirmed or disproved.
Further, qualitative methods include physiological measurements based on the study of respondents ‘ involuntary responses to marketing incentives. Special equipment is used for such measurements. For example, the pupil dilation and movement is recorded when studying certain products, images, etc.in Addition, the electric activity and sweat production of the respondents ‘ skin can be measured, which characterize the degree of their arousal. However, this technique is unusual in nature, so it can make respondents nervous. Its use does not make it possible to separate positive reactions from negative ones.
An example is the conduct of special experiments to determine the attitude of children to various toys. In the course of their implementation, the behavior of children is monitored. Various toys (of different types, colors, and materials) are laid out in front of children, and eye movement, pupil size, pulse rate, perspiration, and the sequence and nature of learning toys are recorded using contact and contactless sensors and video recording.
For these reasons, physiological measurements are rarely used in marketing research.
5. Survey methods
Let’s describe in more detail the quantitative methods of collecting primary data or survey methods.
The survey consists of collecting primary information by directly asking people questions about their level of knowledge, attitudes to the product, preferences, and purchasing behavior. The survey may be structured or unstructured; in the first case, all respondents answer the same questions, in the second case, the interviewer asks questions depending on the answers received.
When conducting a survey, a group of respondents may be subjected to either single or multiple surveys. In the first case, a cross-section of this group is obtained in many parameters for a fixed point in time ( cross-sectional study–. For example, editorial offices of magazines and Newspapers conduct one-time sample surveys of their readers on such parameters as age, gender, level of education, occupation, etc. Since these studies typically use large samples, these studies are usually referred to as sample surveys.
In the second case, the same group of respondents, called the panel, is repeatedly studied over a certain period of time (longitudinal study–. Different types of panels are used in many market research projects. In this case, it is often said that the panel survey method is used.
Survey methods have the following advantages.
A high level of standardization, due to the fact that all respondents are asked the same questions with the same answers to them.
The ease of implementation lies in the fact that it is not necessary to visit respondents by sending them questionnaires by mail or by phone; it is not necessary to use technical means and attract highly qualified professionals, as in the case of using the focus group method, in-depth interviews, etc.
The ability to conduct in-depth analysis is to pose consecutive clarifying questions. For example, working mothers are asked how important it was to consider the location of the school when choosing it for their children. The next question is how many schools were considered as possible options. Then questions are asked about occupation, job characteristics, income, and family size.
The ability to tabulate and perform statistical analysis is based on the use of mathematical statistics methods and corresponding application packages for personal computers.
Analysis of the results obtained in relation to specific market segments. This is due to the ability to subdivide the overall sample into separate sub-samples according to demographic and other criteria.
Example of questionnaire
1. Do you like wearing t-shirts?
2. What do you like about this t-shirt?
– something else (please specify)
3. What do You not like about this t-shirt?
– something else (please specify)
4. How do you assess the quality of this t-shirt?
5. If you decide to buy this t-shirt, what price will suit you?
enter the number in rubles ________
6. If you buy a t-shirt, for what purpose?
for everyday wear__
for others as a gift__
Data about the Respondent
15-24 | 25-34 | 35-44 | 45 and more
Enter your total family income (in us dollars):
Before 25 | 25-50 | 50-100 | 100-300 | 300-1000 | More than 1000 thousand dollars.
There are three ways to collect information from respondents when conducting surveys:
By posing questions to respondents by interviewers, the answers to which the interviewer records (in table. 2. an example of a questionnaire used when interviewing customers about their attitude to t-shirts of a certain brand is given);
By asking questions using a computer;
By self-filling out questionnaires by respondents.
The first method has the following advantages:
The presence of feedback from respondents, which makes it possible to manage the survey process.
Ability to establish trust between the Respondent and the interviewer at the beginning of the survey.
The ability to take into account the characteristics and level of education of the respondents during the survey, for example, to help the Respondent understand the gradations of the scales used.
The disadvantages of this method exactly correspond to the advantages of the second and will be discussed below.
The advantages of the second method are as follows:
High speed of implementation of this approach in comparison with personal interviewing. The computer can quickly ask questions adapted to the answers to previous questions; quickly dial randomly selected phone numbers; take into account the characteristics of each Respondent.
No mistakes of the interviewer, he does not get tired, it is impossible to bribe him.
Use of images, graphs, and video materials integrated into questions that appear on the computer screen.
Real-time data processing. The information received is sent directly to the database and is available for tabulation and analysis at any time.
The interviewer’s subjective qualities do not affect the answers received, especially personal questions. Respondents do not try to give answers that the interviewer will like.
The disadvantages of the computer-based survey method include relatively high costs due to the acquisition and use of computers, software, cleaning of computer viruses after each survey, and so on.
The main specific feature of the third method is that the Respondent answers the questions of the questionnaire submitted or sent to him independently without the participation of the interviewer or using a computer.
The advantages of this method are as follows:
Relatively low cost due to the lack of interviewers and computer equipment.
Independent organization of answers to questions by respondents who independently choose the time and speed of answers to questions, create the most comfortable conditions for answering questions.
The absence of a certain influence on the part of the interviewer or computer, which creates more comfortable conditions for respondents to answer questions.
The disadvantages of this survey method are, first of all, that since the Respondent independently controls the answers to the questionnaire questions, their answers may contain errors due to misunderstanding, lack of due attention, etc., be incomplete; the survey deadlines may be violated or the questionnaires will not be returned at all. As a result of the above, the questionnaires should be developed very carefully and contain clear and complete instructions.
6. The panel survey method
The basic concept of this method is the concept of a panel.
A panel is a sample set of units that are subject to repeated research, and the subject of the study remains constant. Members of the panel can be individual consumers, families, trade and industrial organizations, and experts who, with certain reservations, remain permanent. The panel survey method has advantages over conventional one-time surveys: it allows you to compare the results of subsequent surveys with the results of previous ones and establish trends and patterns of development of the studied phenomena; provides a higher representation of the sample in relation to the General population.
All types of panels are divided by time of existence, the nature of the studied units (subjects), the nature of the studied problems (subjects of study), and methods of obtaining information.
The panels are divided into short-term (no more than a year) and long-term (no more than five years) by their lifetime.
Long-term panels can provide continuous or periodic information. Continuous information is recorded in the diaries on a daily basis, and the diaries themselves are sent to the organizers of the study at certain intervals. Periodic information is received as surveys are conducted in the form of completed questionnaires.
By the nature of the units studied, the panels are divided into:
consumer, whose members are individual consumers, families, or households (so in the United States by NFO Research, Inc. a consumer panel has been created that includes 450,000 households);
trade organizations whose members are trade organizations and individuals engaged in trade;
industrial enterprises that produce the products under study;
experts-specialists on the problem under study.
The information received during the surveys largely depends on the composition of the panel. The most difficult is the formation of family and individual consumer panels. The advantage of trade panels, industrial panels, and expert panels is that they have fewer members than consumer panels, which reduces the cost of creating and monitoring them.
According to the nature of the problems studied, panels are divided into General and specialized ones. Specialized panels can be created to study individual products or product groups. For example, they are used to test products and concepts of new products; track market trends, for example, to study the dynamics of the market share indicator; identify sources from which consumers receive information about new products; and test advertising videos.
If General panels are formed representative of the composition of the region’s population, then specialized panels can be formed as a sample of the entire population (all families); all potential consumers of the studied goods; all actual consumers (owners) of the studied goods.
A specialized panel can also be non-representative, for example, it can be formed as a panel of activists, i.e. people who have a certain product and are willing to give information about it. These panels are used for preliminary analysis of the problem.
According to the method of obtaining information, there are four types of panels:
members of the panel send the required information (completed diaries, questionnaires) by mail;
panel members are interviewed;
panel members fill out diaries or questionnaires, but special workers collect information;
panel members are interviewed at regular intervals, and information is sent by mail within the time interval.
In the course of conducting panel surveys:
identify factors that affect the solution of the problem under study, and their dynamics;
study the opinions and assessments of the subjects regarding the goods and organization of trade, their changes over time;
identify the decisions and intentions of the respondents and their implementation;
identify differences in the behavior of consumers belonging to different social strata, living in different regions and cities and localities of different types;
they study the purchase motives and predict their development, etc.
Panels are divided into traditional and non-traditional. The latter include widely used public panels (omnibus panels). When using traditional panels, the same questions are asked each time the panel members are surveyed. When using the public panel, each survey may have different goals, and different questions may be asked, with only one or a very limited number of questions being asked to a large number of respondents. This type of panel is based on the use of existing, repeatedly used sources of information that can be quickly used for a variety of research purposes. It turns out to be an instant photo of certain opinions, attitudes, etc. Due to the limited number of questions asked and proven channels for obtaining information, this type of panel survey is relatively cheap. For example, a marketer using this method, using, say, a well-established public opinion research system created by an organization specializing in this field, can quickly get information about the opinion of a certain group of consumers regarding a product of two different brands. On the basis of the traditional panel, these same parameters are studied in dynamics, for example, by studying the dynamics of purchases of a certain brand of goods made by consumers of individual market segments. Here you can study the number of products sold, the market share indicator, the change in consumer attitudes to a particular brand of product, its switching to the use of another brand of product, that is, market trends. However, this is done on the basis of a specially conducted study.
The appropriateness of using these or other panels is determined by the nature of the tasks to be solved and the amount of funds allocated. Therefore, before conducting consumer surveys, based on the research goals, you must select the type and size of the panel. Larger panels give more reliable results or have smaller confidence intervals if they are equally reliable. But larger panels also require a lot of money.
It should be noted that there are difficulties in ensuring the representativeness of the generated panel. In addition to the General problems of forming a representative sample, there are problems due to the fact that traditional panels are created for multiple studies. Panel members can simply opt out of further collaboration, move to another city, switch to another consumer panel, or die. In addition, the panel participants, feeling under control, consciously or unconsciously change their usual behavior: Housewives are better prepared for purchases, the share of spontaneous purchases decreases.
As an example of using the panel survey method, consider the study of medical services and the drug market in France . The panel included 1,600 doctors (one in twenty doctors) working with a private clientele. Members of the panel wrote out prescriptions once every three months for one week in a special tear-off book with spines. This allowed you to simultaneously get a duplicate prescription and certain information written on the spine: the patient’s characteristics, diagnosis, therapeutic effect, expected from the prescribed medication, etc.
The process of creating a panel in this example included:
division of territory into regions and categories of cities;
division of medical personnel into categories by specialty and age;
draw lots in each category to select the desired number of doctors;
checking the sample for many parameters (the doctor’s title, the number of his clientele, etc.).
In addition, monthly statistics were collected on the sale of medicines in pharmacies (the panel included 307 pharmacies).
7. Methods for obtaining data from respondents
The following methods of data collection can be distinguished when conducting surveys with the participation of interviewers or when respondents fill out questionnaires on their own:
Interviewing performed at the Respondent’s home. It is possible to pre-agree on the terms of the interview by phone. It is usually easier to establish trusting relationships, it is possible to display product samples, advertising materials, etc. the Home environment sets up a fairly long interview with a high degree of concentration on the survey. However, this is an expensive method of collecting data.
Interviewing visitors to large stores. Companies conducting such surveys may have their own offices in large stores. Store visitors are interviewed by an interviewer in the store or can be invited to give an interview in the office. Using this method, without using special methodological approaches, it is difficult to ensure the representativeness of the survey results and the thoughtful attitude of the respondents to the questions asked. This method is cheaper than the first method.
Interviews in offices. It is usually used when collecting information about production, technical and office products. This method has essentially the same advantages and disadvantages as the first method, but has a higher cost of conducting due to the use of more qualified interviewers.
Traditional telephone interview. The advantages of this method and data collection include the following: relatively low cost, the ability to reach a large number of respondents and provide a high level of representativeness, and the ability to conduct research in a relatively short period of time. This method has the following disadvantages: the inability to show something to the Respondent, the inability for the interviewer to have a personal impression of the meeting with the respondents. (However, the lack of personal contact sometimes helps to get truthful answers to questions about alcohol consumption, contraceptives, etc.). Then there is the difficulty of getting lengthy answers to a large number of questions, since the Respondent’s patience may run out. In addition, it is difficult to check the quality of the interview and determine whether all the planned respondents were actually interviewed. To control the quality of the survey, management can organize repeated verification calls to previously interviewed respondents.
Telephone interview from a specially equipped room where several interviewers work in parallel, and supervisors can connect to their phones. In addition to good opportunities to control the quality of interviewers ‘ work, this method, in comparison with traditional telephone interviews, reduces costs by combining resources (material, software, etc.).
Telephone interview using a computer. Many companies that conduct consumer surveys provide specially equipped rooms for telephone interviewing with special computer equipment. This technique automatically dials the respondents ‘ phone numbers, then an introductory text appears on the monitor, followed by consecutive questions with possible answers. The interviewer reads out questions to the Respondent and uses the code to fix the named answer option. In this case, the next question is formulated depending on the answer to the previous question. This technology facilitates the work of the interviewer, speeds up the conduct of surveys and reduces the number of possible errors. The computer database of responses and their statistical processing are performed automatically in real time. In some cases, analyzing only part of the responses allows you to make certain decisions and stop further questioning, saving time and resources.
Fully computerized interview. In this case, in addition to the previously described method, the Respondent answers questions by pressing the buttons on their phone, or the questions appear on their computer monitor, and the Respondent enters the answers using a normal computer keyboard.
Group self-completion of questionnaires. This approach is used to make interviewing easier and cheaper. For example, twenty or thirty members of the group are shown a commercial, after which they individually answer questions on the questionnaire regarding the evaluation of this video. Group members can be students of the same class, students of the same study group, vacationers of a holiday home, etc. feedback from the interviewer is Possible.
Self-completion of the left questionnaires. It is a variant of the survey based on self-completion of questionnaires. After a preliminary oral explanation of the goals and objectives of the survey, the questionnaire is left with the Respondent. After a certain time, the completed questionnaire is either taken away from the Respondent, or they send it by mail in an envelope with a paid response. This method is used when conducting surveys in a limited area that does not require the interviewer to move much. This method is characterized by a high return rate of responses, minimal influence of the interviewer on the respondents, relative cheapness and good control over the formation of a group of respondents. The respondents can select employees of a single organization, hotel guests, visitors to the store, etc.
A survey in the mail. Questions and answers are sent by mail. The advantages of this method are due to the fact that it is not necessary to hire interviewers, the ease of forming groups of target respondents, and its cheapness. This method has the same disadvantages as the methods of self-filling out questionnaires without the participation of the interviewer. They were discussed above. In addition, this method is characterized by a low percentage of returned responses, it is aimed mainly at sufficiently literate people living in countries with an effective postal system. There is a possibility of distortion of the results due to the fact that the respondents who answered the questionnaire differ in their social status, attitude to a certain product, advertising, etc.from those who did not answer the questionnaire (self-selection of respondents).
In table. 3 data describing the advantages and disadvantages of the most frequently used interviewing methods are presented.
Advantages and disadvantages of the three main interviewing methods
Available for a small group
Possible one-sided response-
researchers’. Low cost-
tov, due to a small number of-
most. Ease of organization.
scrap answers. Impossibility
There is no influence from the storo-
to clarify the issues. History-
interviewer’s answers. Can be
the nature of explanations and explanations
illustrations are used.
Poor quality of responses to
On the phone
Low cost. Field
Limited to respondents,
research can be for-
your phone number.
completed quickly enough.
Can’t be showing the GP-
Suitable for collecting as
rosnik and illustrations.
actual data, and given-
It’s hard to maintain interest
data describing the issues
more than 15-20 minutes.
It’s hard to ask complex questions
The depth of the survey.
Ability to demonstrate
It is difficult to check the degree
product. Possibility of Priko-
interviewer’s influence on RES-
pay attention to the response-
pondents. Interview can
dent for a long time-
be interrupted. Is required
meni. Ability to listen
large interview team-
8. The choice of particular survey methods
The choice of specific survey methods is based on taking into account the following groups of factors: the goals and resources of the researcher; characteristics of respondents; characteristics of questions asked by the researcher. We will briefly describe these three groups of factors.
The data collection goals are derived from the goals of the marketing research being conducted. Their definition is based on the requirements for obtaining information of the desired quality. The latter is determined by the time allowed to make a decision and the available resources.
The most quickly implemented methods include telephone surveys and interviewing visitors to large stores. Much more time is required for the implementation of personal interviews, surveys by mail.
The lack of sufficient funds also affects the choice of data collection method. For example, if a researcher wants a sample of 1,000 respondents and $ 5,000 is available for these studies, it seems impossible to hire interviewers at a cost of $ 20 per interview, since in this case the interviewers will have to pay $ 20,000. In this example, you will have to use cheaper methods, such as a telephone interview.
The quality of the collected data is evaluated by many parameters, which will be discussed in detail in the following sections of the book. Here, only two aspects of the concept of “quality of data collected” will be noted: the ability to distribute the conclusions obtained from the collection of information for a particular sample to the entire population as a whole, and the completeness of the information received from each Respondent. These criteria, for example, are much more satisfied with the information received during a personal meeting of the interviewer with the Respondent than when interviewing over the phone.
At least four characteristics of the target group of respondents that influence the choice of data collection method should be considered:
1. The extent of coverage (incident rate) describes the percentage of respondents who have the required characteristics in the total population of respondents. For example, if the concept of low-calorie food prepared in a microwave oven is being tested, then the target respondents should be Housewives who have microwave ovens and have purchased low-calorie food in the past six months. Only about 5% of Housewives who meet these requirements meet this qualification. The coverage indicator in this case means that only one in twenty Housewives interviewed at random meets the goals of the survey.
The data collection process in this example, accompanied by a high cost of money and time to find respondents with the required characteristics, may require more time and money than the interview itself. Perhaps you should use the mail survey, using the principle of self-selection, according to which the questions are answered only by respondents who meet the qualifications given in the questionnaire.
2. Desire to participate in the survey. The researcher is always concerned about the high degree of refusal of respondents to participate in the survey. It is possible to distinguish two types of reasons for the reluctance to participate in any survey. The first is due to some generalized feelings of suspicion and the desire to prevent anyone from entering your personal life: a certain category of people simply do not want to take part in any survey. The second is due to the specific circumstances of a particular survey. For example, some respondents do not want to discuss certain topics. The chosen survey method affects the degree of willingness to participate in the survey. So people find it more difficult to refuse to participate in a personal interview than in a postal survey. Various methods are usually used to stimulate the desire to participate in the survey: cash payment, small gifts (pens, lighters, etc.), etc.
3. Possibility of taking part in the survey. Even if a potential Respondent meets the above two requirements, they may not participate in the survey for various reasons (business trip, illness, unexpected family circumstances, forgetfulness, etc.). Usually, personal contacts with potential respondents increase the likelihood of their participation in the survey, while mail surveys do not have such a stimulating social impact.
4. The diversity of respondents characterizes the extent to which prospective respondents have some key features. For example, if only a small part of the target population visits large Department stores, then the survey of visitors to such stores will not give representative results. The more diverse the target group, the more personal approach researchers should take to ensure that the right respondents participate in the survey.
The choice of data collection methods is largely determined by the nature of the questions. Here, first of all, it is necessary to highlight the level of complexity of the tasks that are set for respondents. For example, testing the taste of a food product or testing a television ad requires a fairly complex preparation, special equipment, separate rooms and clear control over the procedures for their implementation.
Further, it should be noted that the amount of information requested from respondents varies greatly from one study to another. For example, one study aims to get a variety of information about a product and its brand, about the lifestyle of customers and their demographic characteristics.
While the other only tries to find out what the store visitor remembered from the ad at the entrance to this store.
Traditionally, telephone surveys are the shortest, while personal interviews are quite lengthy.
All other data collection methods occupy an intermediate position. Several data collection methods are often used in combination. For example, after a short telephone interview, a survey is conducted by mail.
A significant influence on the choice of data collection method is the degree of sensitivity of the topic being studied, that is, the degree of personal interests, views, moral and ethical aspects (blood donation, racial problems, personal hygiene, donations for charitable purposes, etc.). The experience of studying these problems suggests that a personal interview is less suitable here, and most often a telephone interview or an interview using a computer is used. In General, when choosing a survey method, you should be guided by the answers to the following question “ ” Which method of data collection will allow you to get the most complete representative information within the allotted time and money?”
Questions for verification
Define quantitative and qualitative marketing research; specify how they differ from each other?
What is the observation method? What is observed and what is registered in the process of its implementation?
Describe at least three different ways to use the focus group method.
What is formed by the composition of the focus group?
Should the members of the focus groups to be similar or different from each other and why?
Should the marketing Manager act as the lead during the focus group?
What does the definition of “projection” mean in the name “projection method”?
The head of the marketing service of the wine and vodka factory is concerned about the low level of consumption of liquors in comparison with other alcoholic products of the plant. Help him choose two projection methods to study this problem and justify their application in this case.
Describe the main advantages and disadvantages of survey methods compared to qualitative methods.
What features of the computer-based survey method are the most attractive?
What is common and what is the difference between interviewing done at home, in the store, and in the office?
Why are phone surveys so popular?
What three resource factors influence the choice of the survey method?
The security alarm manufacturer chooses the method of interviewing apartment owners regarding the proposed alarm system. If a thief enters the apartment, a sound signal is activated and the barking of a guard dog is simulated. The firm would like to know how many potential customers have information about the existence of this system, what they think about it and whether they are going to buy it next year. Which of the survey methods considered is most suitable in this case and why?
1. Burns Alvin C., Bush Ronald F. Marketing Research. New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1995.
2. Paul Hague, Peter Jackson. Marketing Research in Practice. 1992.
3. Kotler Philip. Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation, and Control. Seventh Ed. Prentice Hall, 1991.