What Does it Mean for a Market Research Study to be Blinded?

One of the most frequent questions our market research company hears is, "What does it mean or a market research study to be blinded?

Let's say you've decided to field an online survey among the customers of your product or service.

Before you start designing the questions and moving too far ahead, there is an important question to ask yourself: do I want to want to remain anonymous as the sponsor of the survey?

If the answer to that question is "Yes," then the best option for your market research may be a blind study.

Blind studies are very common and usually have more to gain from the research by keeping the brand anonymous. This post will cover what different blind studies can look like and the specific benefits and drawbacks.

What Does it Mean for a Market Research Study to be Blinded?

Conducting a blind study is one of the best ways to reduce bias in market research. Take the extra step to prevent valuable data from losing its reliability.


What Does it Mean for a Market Research Study to be Blinded?

A blind study, or blind survey in the example mentioned above, is a market research study that does not disclose the research sponsor to the respondent.

Conducting a blind study is one of the best ways to reduce bias in market research. Take the extra step to prevent valuable data from losing its reliability.


Single-Blind Study vs. Double-Blind Study

There are a couple of types of blind studies in the context of market research.

Double-blind study.

A double-blind study is when both the respondent and interviewer are not informed of the research sponsor.

Some in-depth interviews or focus groups fit this type of blind research where both the moderator and the participants are unaware of the sponsor.

Double-blind studies offer an additional layer of protection from bias, as there is no risk of interviewer bias.

Single-blind study.

In contrast, single-blind studies are those in which only the respondent is unaware of the sponsor.

An example of this study would be a questionnaire read in-person or over the phone by a researcher.


What is the Process for a Blinded Study?

Most market research methodologies can be made blind without issue. As previously mentioned, online surveys frequently use this practice.

This usually generically mentions the sponsor at the beginning of the survey as a company within a particular industry such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, etc.

The rest of the study must be careful not to reveal the sponsor, such as singling out the sponsor by name in questions.

Another version of a blind study is taste testing a sponsor's product. Taste testing is exclusively done blind, as this research’s value stems from the unbiased comparison of feedback on foods. 

Another product testing may also be performed as a blind study, such as an in-home usage test (IHUT) in which consumers test products in the context of daily life.

The product is stripped of any labeling or branding.


Benefits of a Blinded Study

Using a blind study is a generally simple change but capable of positively impacting the data.

The main reason they are so popular for market research projects is how they take response bias out of the equation.

If the respondent is aware of the sponsor's brand, they likely have a perception of the brand that could alter the answers they provide.

A brand loyalist may have a more challenging time saying or rating the product negatively if they know it is associated with the brand.

On the flip side, a consumer who has had issues with the sponsoring company may be unfairly critical as they answer questions. Not disclosing the sponsor eliminates both of these biases.


Drawbacks of a Blinded Study

There are a few exceptions to a blind study being the right fit for your market research.

One reason to reconsider a blind study is if the target respondents are a difficult audience to reach.

Withholding the sponsor’s identity naturally makes respondents less likely to participate, not knowing what organization they are helping out.

Another scenario in which a blind study may not work is if the respondents are contacted via information from a customer list.

Respondents may be upset, believing their personal information was given to a third party without permission. In these cases, the sponsor must be disclosed.


Real-World Example of a Blinded Study

In the early 1990s, there was a study done to determine the impact of branded versus blind taste tests, regarding Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. 

In the blind taste test, Diet Pepsi was the preferred choice of beverage over Diet Coke.

The study determined that 51% of participants liked the refreshing taste of Diet Pepsi more than the flavor of Diet Coke. However, there was a significant difference when the study was not blind. 

When the brands were revealed to the participants, 65% of taste testers preferred Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi.

As a result of the study, it was clear that the brand had a major impact on the perception of the respondents. Therefore, a blind study can eliminate bias and can uncover the truth.


Contact Our Market Research Company

Would a blind study accomplish what you are looking for in a market research project? Reach out to our team of professionals to see how we can design a study uniquely for you and your business.

Contact our market research firm below with questions.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

tim gell - about the author

Tim Gell

As a Research Analyst, Tim is involved in every stage of a market research project for our clients. He first developed an interest in market research while studying at Binghamton University based on its marriage of business, statistics, and psychology. 

Learn more about Tim, here.


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