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You think you know your target audience, but do you really? Sure, you might know a bit about their problems and needs, but is that information accurate enough to develop your marketing budget? Would you be willing to bet your product launch on those assumptions?

Customer Survey

A few comments gleaned from friends and some Internet research isn’t sufficient to get a good idea of the playing field. And even if you have enough data from different resources, it won’t help you in any way unless it’s properly analyzed. There’s just no way around it. Market research surveys are crucial to any marketing campaign or product launch, if you want to turn a profit.

The Power of Market Research Surveys

  • No Peer Pressure or Conformity
  • Unlike in focus groups, where the opinions of other participants can easily be swayed by a dominant personality in the group, market research surveys are completed individually. The survey is also completed privately, so responses tend to be more candid, because respondents don’t feel the need to choose their words carefully, unlike when they’re talking to someone in-person.

  • Cost-Effective
  • The cost of running a qualitative research method, such as a focus group discussion, can range from $5000 to $7000 and that’s just for 10 participants! To collect enough data for statistical analysis, you’ll need to conduct two to three such discussion groups, which can amount to $21,000. On the other hand, the cost for running market research surveys, even with incentives, has dropped tremendously due to the availability of online surveys.

  • Less Mistakes, More Accurate Analysis
  • Market research surveys often have a structured questionnaire with limited choices for answers. While it has less response options, unlike qualitative research methods, the data gathered can be analyzed easily and with higher accuracy using specific formulas and patterns.

  • Reveal Brand and Company Positioning
  • Information you gain from this research could be used to determine the success and failure of a brand marketing campaign, as well as possible opportunities for improvement. Of course, it also can tell you how your target audience sees your company.

  • Design Flexibility
  • Market research surveys don’t work well for open-ended questions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them for complex information-gathering. Market research surveys can be programmed with matrices, skip options, multiple choices, and can even incorporate if-then logic. Even if surveys aren’t effective in getting verbatim feedback from your target market, they makes up for it in the amount of data you can gather in one questionnaire.

  • Larger Sample Size
  • Market research surveys reach a wider audience, and that, in turn, increases your chances of getting a clearer, much more accurate understanding of your market. Many businesses mistakenly assume that 30-50 participants are enough to get a good idea of their market. It’s not. In fact, in most cases you’ll need a sample size of at least 600 participants.

  • Save Through Market Validation
  • Instead of building a product or service and then trying to find a buyer, market research surveys help you validate the demand and profitability of your idea before you invest a single cent on production, thus saving you both the cost and the disappointment that results from launching an un-researched product or brand.

  • Identify Market Desires
  • This can include new products, upgrades, modifications and tie-ins to already existing products or services. Why guess when you can use a market research survey and have customers tell you directly?

Using market research surveys will unlock a wealth of information about your target market, information you couldn’t have discovered if you relied on your own knowledge or a few peoples assumptions. The process might seem tedious if it’s your first time collecting and analyzing data, but the insight you’ll gain will more than make up for the effort involved.

About the author

Sean O’Dacre is on the marketing team of FluidSurveys, a leading enterprise survey software tool used by thousands of professional organizations around the world.

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Selling is about more than moving product. It’s about moving people. Touching them. Connecting with them.

The relationships you build with your customers top the list of your company’s most valuable assets. So how do you know if you’re connecting with them the right way?

Customer Survey

The customer survey, when done right, is one of the most effective business research tools for developing better marketing strategies.

But it’s not just about asking questions. It’s about asking the right questions that will yield truthful responses and allow comparing your customers’ awareness, satisfaction and attitude with other relevant brands, organizations and events.

These are some of the best practices for building and distributing successful customer surveys that will achieve useful and actionable results:

1. Clearly define your research objectives and address them specifically – don’t try covering everything in one shot

Cut unnecessary questions from your surveys. 
Every question you include should have a well-defined purpose and a good reason for being asked. Do you really need to know things like customer name, age or income?

Adding questions you thought are “nice to know” can make survey takers abandon your survey without finishing it.

If you think such questions are important, but not critical, add them to the end of your survey and make them optional.

2. Make your survey short to keep respondents engaged

Find the shortest way to ask a question without losing its intent. It’s not just about reducing the word count. Ask questions that are straight forward and simple to understand.

Your survey length is critical for keeping abandon rates low. Our research indicates that if you keep your survey under 25 questions you will achieve high response rates.

3. Avoid leading and loaded questions

Questions that lead respondents toward a certain answer due bias in their phrasing are harmful for your surveys.
 Try avoiding loaded questions in your surveys by eliminating emotionally charged language that hints at preferences or assumed facts.

Here are several “real life” examples of survey questions:

In the first example, a researcher wanted to better understand consumer awareness of Prebiotics:

Q1. Do you know the main usage of Prebiotics?
- Yes
- No
- No sure

Q2. To the best of your knowledge, which of the following statements about Prebiotics usage is correct (please don’t guess)?
- Prebiotics are used to treat high cholesterol
- Prebiotics are used to restore healthy bacteria
- Prebiotics are used to feed healthy bacteria
- Prebiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria
- Don’t know

While over 50 percent of the respondents responded “Yes” to Question 1, only 13 percent were able to answer correctly Question 2 (“Prebiotics are used to feed healthy bacteria”).

Take a look at another example. Subscribers of an internet magazine were asked to respond to this question:

Q. Why do you like our magazine?
- Because it’s informative
- Because it’s available on line
- Because it’s free
- Because it has great ads
- Other (please specify)

Well, if the survey is conducted to better understand the magazine readers, wouldn’t it be more meaningful to ask what is missing in the magazine and what can be improved?

Finally, take a look at this question. The question was asked following a new product presentation:

Q. How much would you pay for the product?
- $10.99
- $11.99
- $12.99

I bet you know the answers received by the researcher.

4. Add smart open-ended questions and create connection between quantitative and qualitative (open-ended) questions

While some of your most valuable and insightful feedback may come from open-ended questions, nothing may intimidate survey takers more than a huge text box.


Ask a brief quantitative (single/multiple choice, “scales”, etc.) question first to create a sense of progress, and then follow up with a targeted an open-ended question such as, “Why were you dissatisfied with the service?”. This approach will also make the answers you are looking for more specific.

5. Keep rating scales consistent, but randomize question topics

Commonly used survey scales can become confusing when the context changes.

If you start using scale where you ask survey takers to choose between 1-5, where 1 = “Strongly Disagree” and 5 = “Strongly Agree”
 keep the same pattern for all scale type questions.

Do not assign 1 to “Most Important” and 5 to “Least Important” if you had been using 5 as the agreeable answer (“Strongly Agree”) to previous questions.


If you do this, it will not only be confusing to respondents but many of them will miss the change and give inaccurate answers.

If is very beneficial however, for accuracy and quality of your survey, to randomize or mix your question topics (not scales).

6. Consider using interactive survey tools, pictures and movies, but only when necessary

In some cases respondents’ engagement and response rate can be further improved by using interactive survey tools such as Virtual Shelf, Hot Text, Heat Map or other Interactive ranking questions.

When used smart, interactive survey tools can provide better quality and accuracy of your survey results.

Do not overwhelm, however, survey takers with such tools as they also can destruct respondents from the actual question.

Follow the links for demos:
The Virtual Shelf
Hot Text
The Heat Map
The Image Rank Sort
The Rating Scale
The Stack Sort
The Rank Sort
The Slider Scale

7. Make sure your sample statistically represents the targeted population

Sampling is the foundation of all research. Reliable sampling helps you make business decisions with confidence.

A small, representative sample will reflect opinions and behavior of the group from which it was drawn.

The large the sample size the smaller the chance for an error, but the sheer size of a sample does not guarantee its ability to accurately represent a target population. Large unrepresentative samples can lead to wrong conclusions the same way as small ones.

For more information about sampling: http://www.macorr.com/sample-size-methodology.htm
MaCorr Sample Size calculator: http://www.macorr.com/sample-size-calculator.htm

8. Guarantee anonymity and confidentiality, and provide feel of neutrality

If possible, use the Respondent Anonymity Assurance (RAA) approach. This technology allows tracking who has and has not completed the survey and following up with individuals who have not completed the survey.

In addition it allows identifying each respondent and linking his/her specific responses to any additional, customer/ employee specific information such as level in the corporate structure, demographic information, tenure, etc.

In RAA enabled surveys, computer generated identification numbers for individuals are generated. The researcher, in this case, does not have access to both the respondent’s personal information as well as the response data at the same time.

Surveys conducted by an independent research company using RAA usually deliver more honest responses as compared to surveys conducted by employer or service provider themselves.

9. Choose the right timing to send your survey

Our studies found the highest survey open and click-through rates occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
Since there was no significant difference between the response quality gathered on weekdays or weekends, send out surveys first thing during a new week or on the weekend.


10. Reward the respondents

Entice customers to take your survey. Our research shows that incentives can increase survey response rates by up to 30 percent.

If possible, use discounts for your products or services. Alternatively, use easy to distribute and traceable electronic gift cards. Cash electronic cards from amazon.com, for example, will be relevant and enticing for a wide variety of survey respondents.

There is an opinion that freebies can reduce the quality of responses, but our studies show that this isn’t likely to be the case.


11. Use analytical tools and approaches for advance analysis of survey results

Research is about more than just getting answers. It’s about gaining confidence. We believe advanced analytics must be part of every company’s business intelligence strategy, regardless of its size.

If possible, consider using advanced analytical approaches such as correlation, factor and conjoint analyses, quadrant analysis, etc. to arrive at the type of conclusions that’ll drive more precise, meaningful results and, ultimately, better business decisions.

For more information about advanced analytics: http://www.macorr.com/marketing-analytics.htm

The MaCorr Team
www.MaCorr.com

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Do you believe surveys? Sometimes it is hard, we agree. But, hey, don’t we need to laugh too, so we wanted to share this digest with you. And it is a good excuse for us to say something we do believe.

You will be shocked at what some of us actually believe. Some of the numbers are funny and others are stunning. But they all say something about who we are.

 Fun Facts Survey

• 90% of all Americans believe they are eating healthy, while 36% of us are obese.

• 70% of all us do not feel engaged or inspired at our jobs.

• 60% of Americans are feeling “angry or irritable”, 10 points increase vs. two years ago. 36% of Americans admit they have yelled at a customer service agent last year.

• 65% of Americans are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of the U.S. government system. Only 8% believe that government is doing a “good” job.

• 56% of Americans believe that it is acceptable for the government to track telephone records of Americans in order to keep us safe. 51% agree that “it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism”.

• 30% of all American workers have $1,000 or less saved for retirement.

• 56% of all Americans are considered to have “sub-prime credit”.

• 29% of Americans under the age of 35 are living with their parents.

• 63% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot find Iraq on a map, according to the National Geographic Society.

• There are more Americans who believe aliens have visited Earth than those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

• 24% of people around the world consider the United States to be the biggest threat to world peace. Pakistan is on the second place…, according to a survey by the Worldwide Independent Network.

And don’t we just love technology. 61% of us believe that having a good knowledge about today’s technology is important. Well, then how do we explain this?

• 29% of us believe that “cloud computing” involves a real cloud.

• 11% think HTML is a sexually transmitted disease.

• 27% believe a gigabyte is an insect.

• 15% think software is comfortable clothing.

• 12% believe that USB is an acronym for a country.

• 18% believe Blu-ray is a sea animal.

• 42% think that a motherboard is the deck of a cruise ship.

And, finally, some facts of our every-day life:

• 48% of us sing in the shower.

• 40% never give or receive flowers.

• 18% brush teeth 3 or more times a day.

• 29% of us don’t like our neighbors.

Do we believe in surveys? Yes, we do. So let us help you with your next “meaningful” survey.

Contact
MaCorr Research a Free Consultation.

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Can math and statistics be fascinating and fun? We sure think so. Here is an example we hope you will enjoy.
One deck. Fifty-two cards. How many arrangements? Let’s put it this way: Any time you pick up a well shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again. MaCorr Research intern, with the help of TED-Ed, explains…

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You’ve got a lot to choose from when it comes to cell phone plans. And figuring out exactly who to go with and which plan to choose can be difficult.

But you’re not the only one trying to figure out the market. A few major players in the US asked us to find the differences between the prepaid and postpaid cellphone market to help them better market new plans and services to their customers.
 Cell Phone Research

So in September 2013, we conducted a survey through Computer Assisted Web Interviews among a statistically representative sample of 1,003 postpaid cellphone users and 403 adult prepaid cellphone users in the US. Here’s what we found:

• 67% of prepaid cellphone users are women. That’s larger than the 51% of postpaid cellphone users who are women.

• 60% of prepaid cellphone users have annual incomes below $35,000, with 27% reporting income over $50,000.

• In the postpaid world, only 28% of users have an annual income below $35,000, with 57% reporting income over $50,000.

• Prepaid users lack full-time employment, with only 29% report being employed full-time, and 18% of them are not working.

• Over 44% of postpaid cellphone users are employed.

• Both prepaid and postpaid cellphone users prefer football (44%), baseball (26%) and basketball (24%).

• Both groups of participants enjoy rock, country and pop music.

• Hip hop tends to be more popular among prepaid users, with 37% of prepaid users enjoying hip hop compared to just 24% of postpaid users.

At MaCorr, we’ve been a key part of helping the wireless industry understand their market. To see some of the other insight we’ve garnered, read our post on wireless carrier pricing.

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Manufacturers have a lot to think about when designing their products. Packaging plays a big part in how consumers view one product over another. But even the smartest, most well received packaging can get neglected by consumers. That’s because it’s what happens once the product hits the store that can make a world of difference between bright profit margins and dull performances.

 Virtual Retail Shelf Research

MaCorr Research was commissioned to get a better understanding of how consumers shop for lighting products.

So, we created a Virtual Shelf to figure it all out. Our Virtual Shelf simulates a real-world shopping experience for all kinds of manufacturers. For our client, we simulated an aisle in one of the major retail chains that consumers choose when shopping for lighting products.

We were able to determine several key things without actually putting the lighting product in the store. Our research was designed to figure out:

• How exactly consumers shop for lighting products.
• How to better optimize the positioning and segmentation in a retail environment that’s crowded with competition.
• Why consumers choose one product over another, and how important shelf location is in driving the purchasing decision.

What did we find? A lot of bright insight—the kind of information that helps our client optimize their retail plan-o-gram and shelf space allocation. And the end result? Profit margins that point to a brighter future.

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It’s not easy to go head-to-head with industry heavyweights that command a particular market segment. That’s especially true in the household cleaning industry, where major brands truly outshine and out-sparkle the competition.
How MaCorr Market Research helped a leading US manufacturer really clean up

But that didn’t stop one of our clients from trying to compete with the Swiffer family of products. A leading cleaning products manufacturer in the US, our client was known for its wide variety of household products, but the folks behind Swiffer had beaten them to the punch with their lineup of innovative cleaning solutions.

With a huge desire to mop the floor with the competition, our client wanted to launch a product that competed directly with Swiffer. But simply launching a competing product with the same offering wouldn’t be enough – especially given Swiffer’s market share and strong brand recognition.

So the manufacturer came to MaCorr and asked us to employ our Gap Finder and Concept Testing market research techniques.

Through our Gap Finder process, we pinpointed the gap that exists between what would-be Swiffer users deem most important about a product and the reality of what Swiffer actually delivers.

After narrowing down the gap, we took the rough, sketched out idea, and then tested and analyzed its potential. Our testing process included features expectations analysis, packaging and logo testing, name and USP assessment, and even at-home testing.

The result? Our client has successfully launched their product, which you can find in major retail chains – not to mention in clean homes all over North America.

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There’s lots of talk in the wireless industry. And we’re not referring to subscribers talking to one another. We’re speaking of all the chatter about how the wireless industry will look six months, a year, and three years from now.

New wireless entrants. Takeovers. Mergers. Local carriers going global. Popular handsets becoming exclusive. Other handset makers shunning exclusivity. Voice plans threatened by free apps. And so much more.

Wireless carriers, even those that are recording record profits, have good reason to be worried about what’s ahead.

That’s why one wireless carrier came to MaCorr Market Research Online.

They wanted to know what’s most important to their customers. They wanted to know if they’re satisfied. And they wanted to find out the correlation between satisfaction, important, and expectations.

We didn’t just look at overall satisfaction. We looked at everything.

Value for money. Contract length. Pricing. Choice of handsets. Coverage. Network reliability. Technical support satisfaction. Customer service perception. And even self-service and online experience.

While the results are confidential, we can tell you that the information helped our client fine-tune what was most important to their customers. And today, they’re able to offer a better experience plus better-perceived value—without having to lower their prices in preparation of a different wireless tomorrow.

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It doesn’t take market research and online surveys to know that more and more people want to do their part to help the environment. Most environmentally aware citizens recycle. We don’t litter. And a lot of us have switched from plastic bottled water to a reusable aluminum one.

So bringing a reusable fabric bag when you grocery shop seems like a no-brainer. You’ll keep plastic out of landfills. If fewer bags are made, less energy is spent producing them. And, if the grocery store charges for bags, you’ll save money.

But are US consumers embracing the eco-friendly grocery bag option as much as they have embraced the blue box? A recent market research study from MaCorr reveals the truth.

53% still buy single-use plastic bags
While the majority of frequent grocery shoppers in the US (53%) still use single-use plastic bags, 39% (or 2 out of 5 market research respondents in an online survey) have already switched to reusable polypropylene or fabric bags.

Forgetfulness and inconvenience leads to plastic bag use
Of the grocery shoppers who said they still use plastic bag in a recent market research study, 63% admit they do so because they forget to bring their reusable bag into the store.
market research

An overwhelming number choose fabric bags to help the environment
The majority of those who choose reusable grocery bags do so because they care about the environment.
customer survey

More than half of respondents leave their reusable bags in the car
57% of frequent grocery shoppers who choose reusable bags keep them in the car. 30% of market research respondents keep them in the kitchen. 68% usually take four bags or less into the store.
online survey

Bottom line? There’s still some resistance to fabric grocery bag use among US grocery shoppers mainly due to convenience, but those who value the environment go out of their way to make using fabric grocery bags a priority.

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Recently conducted study explored the role of North American kids and their parents in the cell phone purchase decision making process.

The main objective of the study was to identify barriers and motivations of the first cell phone purchase for kids, explore intentions to buy and pricing expectations.

The study revealed that only 10% of tweens currently have a cell phone. 20% of parents of tweens are, generally, open to the idea and 70% reject it.

As expected, parents’ rejection of the idea decreases with increase in their kids’ age. By the age of 16 almost 60% of teens own a cell phone and only 20% of parent reject the idea.

Tweens see the importance of having a phone in case of emergencies or to call their parents. Safety is more important for them than social connection.
Teens, on the other hand, see the value in being able to connect for social reasons and to keep in touch with friends and family.

Parents of tweens are more inclined to want their child to have a cell phone in case of emergency (the same as tweens themselves), to teach them responsibility and time management.
Parents of teens are more interested in being able to reach their teen when needed and to keep in contact.

The “optimal” plan desired by parents and their tweens/teens include:
-Unlimited text and call display (common in parents and teens wish lists)
-Parents, in addition, would like the ability to monitor their child activities and handset replacement guarantee
-Kids, on the other hand, following text and call display, would like a cool phone, games and limited voice calling

Parents don’t want their kids to have long distance calling, BBM and unlimited data.
Parents’ purchase intent is strong at $20 level for single line and $15 for an additional family plan line.

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