- Have you ever noticed that well written articles use an inverted pyramid structure for the flow of information? It starts with the broad information first, Who, what, when, where, and why, to give the reader the basic information, set the context for what follows, and generally engage the reader. The article then moves to the important details of the story, and finishes with background information. A similar approach is used for structuring the questions in a market research survey or discussion guide.
In most cases, you are going to structure your questions from broad basic questions to more specific ones. This funnel approach serves several purposes. First, it allows the respondent to ease into their participation. The first questions are crucial as they set the tone for the rest of the survey or interview. If the first questions are threatening or uninteresting the respondent may refuse to answer the rest of the questions. Start with easy to answer factual questions that are on topic.
These initial questions may not even be relevant from an analysis perspective, but may simply relax the respondent and gain their cooperation for answering the more specific questions later. Second, it gives you context for the subsequent answers. If they share with you that their car was recently in the shop three times for repairs, and you later ask what factors are most important in a new car purchase, you have some context for why they might put reliability and warranties at the top of the list.
Third, it lends itself to a degree of logic, which is a requirement for a good survey. Jumping from topic to topic confuses the respondent, and can therefore result in potentially contradictory answers. Fourth, it minimizes the likelihood that early questions will bias the answers to later questions. If a respondent is asked first about how prices compare among products, and whether they think the products are reasonably priced, and then later you ask them what aspects of the product are most important, chances are price will be over emphasized, because you've already introduced it, which to some degree implies that it's important.
Finally, it establishes rapport, so that the respondent is more open to answering more sensitive or specific questions later. As an example, let's say you want to get a reaction to a new over-the-counter pain medication. You might start with general questions like, under what circumstances do you use an over-the-counter pain medication? How often do you use them? Which brand or brands do you use today, and why? These are not too personal, so they are relatively easy to answer, and serve to warm up the respondent for the topic at hand.
Then you might move to what are the most important characteristics of pain medications? What do you like and dislike about the current products? What would an ideal pain medication look like? These are a bit more personal, as they involve some level of judgement, but by now the respondent is engaged. Additionally, by asking what is top of mind you've not biased their thoughts on the new product that will be shown next. Then finally you move into a description of the new product, and ask what their thoughts are.
Likes and dislikes, and how likely they would be to use it. You have a context for their responses, as they previously shared what they thought an ideal medication would look like. As you structure the survey or discussion guide, keep the inverted pyramid in mind. Introduce broad topics first, and then drill down to more specific topics. Begin with framing questions, before moving to more specific questions. If you give the respondent an opportunity to warm up, relax, and get engaged before honing in on the key questions, you have substantially increased the likelihood of getting information that will be useful in solving your research problem.
The course also explores how marketing research evolves throughout a product lifecycle and identifies possible stumbling blocks and ethical considerations when performing market research.
- Understanding market search
- Determining the research approach
- Understanding the types of research: qualitative to quantitative
- Developing questions
- Collecting data
- Analyzing data
- Preparing reports
- Identifying potential issues in marketing research