Bias. The sheer uttering of the term sends chills down the spine of a market researcher. Blind testing in market research assures any type of bias in quantitative or qualitative studies is eliminated.
In a market research project, everything must be done to identify the threat, eliminate the threatening bias, and use precaution to prevent the threat from happening again.
Purity in market research is essential. Any knowing or unknowing bias built into a focus group, survey, or in-depth interview (IDI) could significantly skew the results.
Any outcomes of bias survey documents should never to be seen again. Learn more about the importance of blind testing in market research below.
What is Blind Testing in Market Research?
Bling testing or blinding in market research is the process of removing brand names, logos, or any other identifying criteria as part of the research project. Brands and logos carry heavy perceptions and emotions about the products and services associated with them.
Take Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi for Example.
So if Coca-Cola is trying to evaluate a new beverage through a taste test, slapping the Coke logo on the can before participants drink will heavily skew the results.
Pepsi loyalists would likely rate the product low just because of the brand association. And Coca-Cola loyalists the same in the opposite direction.
In order to get a truthful, honest, and unbiased appeal rating, the product must be blinded in the market research.
Sponsors of market research are often blinded during online surveys as well.
By not mentioning the sponsor of the market research it avoids conceptions that will impact answers to questions.
A negative of not being able to mention the sponsor in blinded research is that it does hurt the response rate. If the respondent is unsure of who the sponsor is they may be leerier of the market research and choose not to complete the survey.
Pros and Cons of Blind Testing in Market Research
The Pros of Blind Testing
If the respondent is informed of the research sponsor and its brand, then they most likely have a preconceived notion of the brand.
The respondent’s perception of the brand leads to bias results that could skew the data and disrupt the research study.
In short, the advantages of blind testing in market research include:
- Eliminates bias from the study
- Avoids conceptions that will impact answers to questions
The Cons of Blind Testing
If the respondent is unaware of who the sponsor is, then they may be leerier of the market research study and choose not to complete the survey due to distrust.
In short, the disadvantages of blind testing in market research include:
- Excluding the market research sponsor could hurt the response rate
- The target market can be difficult to reach
- Respondents might feel uncomfortable disclosing personal information
Examples of When to Blind Test in Market Research
Here are some examples of market research studies where it is best practice to blind the sponsor of the project.
1. Taste Testing
Taste-testing is a blind testing tool used to assess the taste of a product. This type of study can compare one product to another or be featured on its own for participants to try.
As stated above, any type of appeal or interest market research should make every attempt to be blinded.
This new product development and new service development projects must separate brand associations from actual product benefits.
When testing new packaging or a series of new packages, ensuring the sponsor is blinded is key to truthful results.
2. Image & Awareness Studies
These types of studies gauge the level of awareness and brand equity for a specific company. An awareness study is conducted with a random sample of respondents who are representative of the total market.
Obviously, it’s difficult to get a true awareness figure (unaided or aided) if the sponsor is announced in the survey’s first sentence. "Company ABC is sponsoring this survey. Have you heard of Company ABC?"
Well, yes. You just mentioned it.
3. Competitive Studies
Competitive studies consist of identifying a competitor and evaluating its product or service offerings’ strengths and weaknesses.
If you ask respondents to rate their satisfaction across 3 or 4 different companies, the results will be less biased if they do not know which 1 of the 4 is the sponsor.
Examples of When Not to Blind Test in Market Research
Here are some examples of market research studies where it is best practice to be transparent about the sponsor:
1. Customer Surveys
Customer surveys are conducted to obtain valuable feedback from consumers to measure customer satisfaction and understand the needs of the individuals.
If your company collects feedback from customers, respondents likely wonder how the market research firm obtained their email address unless the sponsor is addressed.
Mentioning the sponsor also helps with response rates here.
2. Intercept Surveys
Intercept surveys are a research methodology used to collect real-time data and useful feedback from survey participants. It often involves an interviewer standing near the exit of a store, event, concert venue, etc. The interviewer asks participants about their experience inside.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer because they occur on-site at the client's retail location or the event in many cases.
Still unsure if you should blind test your next market research study? Our experts can help. Drive Research is a national customer experience firm. Our customer experience services include online surveys, transactional surveys, and email surveys to customers of your organization.
In a digital age, your customers interact with your brand 24-7-365, so your market research needs to reflect this giving your customer ample opportunity to provide feedback quickly and in-the-moment.
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George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.
Learn more about George, here.