Bias. The sheer uttering of the term sends chills down the spine of a market researcher. Everything possible must be done in a market research project to identify it, eliminate the threat, 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.
Outcomes of survey documents which incur bias. Never to be seen again.
What is Blind Testing or Blinding in Market Research?
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.
So if Coca-Cola is trying to evaluate a new beverage through a taste taste, 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 response rate. If the respondent is unsure of who the sponsor is they may be more leery of the market research and choose not to complete the survey.
Examples of When to Blind Test
Here are some examples of market research studies where it is best practice to blind:
As stated above, any type of appeal or interest market research should make every attempt to be blinded. These 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.
Image & Awareness Studies
Obviously really difficult to get a true awareness figure (unaided or aided) if the sponsor is announced in the first sentence of the survey. "This survey is being sponsored by Company ABC, have you heard of Company ABC?" Well, yes. You just mentioned it.
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
Here are some examples of market research studies where it is best practice to be transparent about the sponsor:
If your company is collecting 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.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer because in many cases they occur on-site at the client's retail location or the event.
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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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