The best methodology in market research is in the eye of the beholder. Each unique method has pros and cons. What is a benefit to one methodology might cause a drawback to another. Choosing the best market research methodology is a bit of a science. Understanding project objectives, outcomes, and needs help drive direction on which path to choose.
Choose the right path. Use a market research firm to help you decide on which methodology best addresses your project objectives.
Here are 3 unique takes on methodology of choice from 3 employees of our Buffalo market research firm. Opinions include: (1) Emily Palermo, Research Analyst, (2) Chris Coville, Project Manager, and (3) George Kuhn, Owner and President.
Here is what each had to say.
Emily Palermo, Research Analyst
What’s so great about online surveys? Well, for starters they are quick, measurable, and more agile than other types of research.
Online surveys are quick.
How quick can online surveys be? A typical online survey project lasts between 1 to 3 weeks. The difference in timing depends on the amount review time needed from the client and for fieldwork. This timing is quicker than other types of market research, like focus groups and IDIs, which can take 3 to 5 weeks to complete.
Our market research firm also use the term “Speedback Surveys” to refer to online surveys that can be completed in as little as 48 hours. (Yes, this includes survey drafting, programming, fieldwork, and reporting.) If you’re looking for results fast, Speedback Surveys are for you.
Online surveys provide measurable results.
A key benefit to online surveys is the ability to use the data to measure. When working with a market research team, an appropriate methodology for the objectives will be developed. This could mean sending an online survey to all employees, customers, specific market areas, or consumers with specific traits.
Online surveys are agile.
Lastly, online surveys are agile because they provide results as needed to the client. For example, results can be shared with end-users periodically (e.g. weekly or monthly). This is ideal for organizations looking to continually measure key performance indicators (KPIs) like net promoter score and customer satisfaction.
Organizations can turn the results from online surveys into data based strategies to give it a competitive edge in the market.
Online surveys can also come with a live data link which can be used at any time to see up to the second survey responses. If this sounds appealing, online surveys are your goldmine.
Another reason online surveys are agile? The various ways they can be distributed. Online surveys can be sent via email, social media, a website, an online research panel, and more by sharing the link. With the variety of options, what’s not to like about online surveys?
Chris Coville, Project Manager
My favorite market research methodology would have to be in-depth interviews (IDIs), for quite a few reasons.
IDIs are a Wealth of Insight
First off, research interviews always produce a wealth of insights, and the honest feedback is often eye-opening for everyone involved in the project. From interview to interview, the ideas generated and the knowledge shared by participants can be extremely valuable. In fact, I've completed interviews before where the insights from a single individual's feedback likely justified the cost of an entire research project.
IDIs can be Flexible
The key advantage to conducting IDIs is the flexibility it provides to the research team. While our team always develops a discussion guide to make sure the research objectives are addressed, the analyst conducting the interview has flexibility when it comes to the actual interview script, and how the interview is conducted. For example, if you're speaking with a high-level executive or another highly specialized audience, the time allotted can vary greatly from interview to interview. In these situations, we'll make the interview more conversational and prioritize the questioning to make sure key objectives are addressed.
Any additional time given by the interviewee will be used to address secondary objectives and generate other insights that may provide value to the overall project. Another example of flexibility with IDIs is when a participant brings up an interesting idea; the analyst can follow-up on that idea to learn more and even consider presenting that same idea to other future interviewees to see if the idea has merit.
IDIs Work for All Industries and Clients
Lastly, conducting IDIs allows us to obtain valuable feedback when our target audience is limited in size, or difficult to reach. For example, if you're working with a B2B organization that has a limited number of customers, conducting interviews will provide significantly more value than trying to conduct a survey. Additionally, interviews can be scheduled around the participant's availability, greatly increasing the participation rate for these audiences and ensuring your project is a success.
George Kuhn, Owner & President of Drive Research
My choice would be intercept surveys. Although they depend on the right client and right environment, intercept surveys can prove extremely valuable and offer a high ROI. Intercept surveys are in-person surveys where interviewers are placed on-site to collect feedback from patrons with a clipboard or tablet.
Intercept Surveys Offer In-The-Moment Feedback
Why? Because they are conducted in-the-moment. The data and feedback will never be more accurate than it is during or right after a customer experience took place. This could be at a fair, event, concert, show, or retail store. By intercepting consumers as they shop or have finished with their experience, the data reliability is very accurate and reliable. Better than asking a participant to remember an experience weeks or months ago through an online survey or phone interview.
Intercepts Offer Person-to-Person Communication
One of the strengths of traditional methodologies over digital is the person-to-person interaction. Intercept survey interviewers can dive deeper on questions, ask why, and build rapport with respondents to uncover additional feedback. This is an area where digital-based methodologies and even phone surveys can fall short.
Intercept Surveys are Fun
An intercept survey is as engaging as the interviewer. If the interview team has fun with the process like we do at the New York State Fair, it makes an impact. It's engagement that is hard to recreate unless you can be there on-site collecting data in-person.
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