What is Collectively Exhaustive in Market Research? | 101 Glossary

Survey writing is a science. In order to eliminate bias and obtain accurate results for your market research study, you want to ensure the questions are worded properly. Poorly written surveys can create a disaster when it comes to interpreting the data and taking action with the results.

One of the most commonly used terms in survey writing is what is called collectively exhaustive. In this post I will go into greater detail on its meaning and some examples.

what is collectively exhaustive in market research

Drive Research uses the term collectively exhaustive when writing surveys on a daily basis. Here is the meaning, an example of how not to write a question, and the fix.

What is Collectively Exhaustive?

Collectively exhaustive is one half of the MECE survey writing 101 tip. You want to ensure your questions are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE).

Collectively exhaustive is defined as ensuring all of your survey responses cover the realm of all possible answers a respondent can select. It means the collection of responses are exhaustive of all answer responses.

An Example of a Question Not Collectively Exhaustive

This is one of the most common mistakes with rookie survey writers. This is why it is helpful to work with a professional market research company to design your scripts.

For this example, let's say:

Which of the following social media platforms do you use? Select all that apply.

(a) Facebook

(b) LinkedIn

(c) Twitter

It is clear based on the given responses, not all social media platforms are covered. What if the respondent uses Instagram? What if the respondent uses Snapchat? What if the respondent does not use social media?

Fixing the Question

The survey writer must adjust the question to make all responses collectively exhaustive.

Here is an example of the question change:

Which of the following social media platforms do you use? Select all that apply.

(a) Facebook

(b) LinkedIn

(c) Twitter

(d) Instagram

(e) Other(s) (please specify)

(f) None of the above

Using these answer categories ensures all of your bases are covered. The answers include additional category choices as well as a catch-all "other" in case anything was missed. An answer for "none of the above" is also included.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY. We work with clients to custom design and script survey documents. As a full-service market research company we manage projects from start to finish handling survey design, fieldwork, and analysis.

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