Coding in market research is the process of taking open-ended comments and categorizing them to allow for data analysis. Many telephone surveys and online surveys include at least a few open-ended questions. An open-ended question is when a respondent is questioned and can answer through an open text box. Open-ended questions add considerable length to a telephone and online survey so be careful to not overuse them. At the same time open-ended questions can provide your business with a lot of depth and detail on particular topics. Outside of what you would normally receive through closed-ended choice-based responses (single response, multiple response, 1 to 5 scales, etc.)
Open-ended questions often result in a large variety of comments. Therefore, selection categories offered to the respondent for the particular question cannot be provided (unless you're willing to accept lots of respondents selecting "other'.) Coding typically begins by exporting these text responses into an Excel spreadsheet. It's a time-intensive task and forces the analyst to read through each and every line item of response, categorizing the comments into themes. When surveys upwards of 1,000+ completes are conducted with multiple open-ends, you can easily spend a full day to a few days of analytical time coding responses. Once categories or values are assigned, the analyst then tallies up the sub-totals of each category or theme to arrive at percentage breakdowns for your report.
Coding in market research is a valuable process and necessary for reporting. It allows respondents to express their thoughts and opinions through their own words. In addition to the rich and insightful open-ended responses, coding allows you to quantify the feedback into charts and graphs for your report. Drive Research, a market research firm in Syracuse NY, follows a structured and proven process to coding. We encourage open-ended questions in all of our online and telephone surveys because of the dual-benefits it offers for interpretation. Questions about survey design or coding.