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★ Market Survey Types detailed in table showing research method strengths " weakesses★

Market Survey Types

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Strengths &

Type 1: Qualitative Market Surveys Types

Online Research Disucssion Forums  

Targeted research respondents, B2B or consumer, are recruited into a 3-day bulletin-board-like forum.

Respondents log on each day of the study, see new questions offered by our moderator.

Most questions are qualitative, open-ended; however quant-like survey questions may pepper the discussion process.

Participants in the research study may "talk to each other" after they offer their own responses to the first questions of the day.

As with focus groups, clients may observe in progress by logging on to forum.

Media, such as video and graphics, are easily included in the forum.

Forum is led by an active moderatior who frequently checks in on forum activity; allows for probing on individual text responses.


Enables recruitment regardless of location. Other logistics issues minimized.

Minimizes self selection problems because of ease of participation. Very busy people more likely to participate.

Fast implementation.

Participants may "talk" as much as they like; extensive verbatims generated.

Interaction invited, however, must offer their own views first.

Less costly than focus groups.

No face-to-face interaction; this is both an advantage and disadvantage.

Cannot read body language (unless webcam used.)


Focus Groups

Groups of 6 to 12 people in single locations.

Traditionally, in live group setting with moderator

Online groups conducted via internet

Phone conference w/ web or video

Moderator must know how to engage in non-directive questioning. (If moderator is merely to pepper people with structured questions, do quant market surveys instead.)

Traditionally, in live group setting with moderator

Online groups conducted via internet

Phone conference w/ web or video

Group interaction can stimulate unplanned reactions.

New ideas spawned

Group-think can occur.

Individuals have little time to speak individually in a typical 90 minute session.

Participants may hide or be passive; other may dominate the research discussion.

Often an artificial "performance mentality" as clients view behind one-way mirror.

Depth Interviews


Long, in-depth interviews using open-ended questioning.

Usually one-on-one, however dyads and triads may be used.

A non-directive approach often useful to explore how respondent thinks about category.


Lack of group interaction may limit range of thought process.

Reluctant or introvert respondents have time to think and speak.

New ideas spawned

With one-on-one research interviews, or dyads, plenty of time to "go deep".



Ethnography (watching behavior over time)

Observational method; "watching" rather than "asking".

Participants interact with product or solutions to need.

Participant take video of relevant situations under study, e.g. their pet, their car,
customer interactions in store, etc.

Diary kept, & report behavior and attitudes to interviewer.

Typically confined to consumer research studies.

Watching user behavior can reveal good insights about their attitudes.

Participants get highly involved in study.

Unforeseen relationships may be discovered.

Somewhat forced environment as people may modify behavior .

Type 2: Quantitative Market Surveys

Telephone Surveys

Random probability samples can be generated from firms such as Survey Sampling, Inc. (SSI)

Best for mostly close-end questioning, when dimensions and ranges of issues are known.

Success depends highly on filtering sample to those consumer or business users who find topic or category relevant.

10-12 average interview length is maximum target unless highly specialized population or incentives paid.

Optimum use is for top-of-mind awareness, branding and brand comparisons, and perception studies.

Response rate is critical, especially with growing privacy issues and phone screening among consumers and business executives alike. Tracking response rate necessary ensure sample is representative of target sampling frame.

Low relative cost.

Generally, fast implementation.

Skilled marketing research interviewer can extract more information than a self-administered method (mail, unmoderated online)


Personal Interviews


Central Location Interviews

Random probability sample -OR- convenience sample, depending upon design. (Central location usually use a convenience sample, i.e. mall traffic)

Used where a face-to-face environment is desired.

In B2B research, personal interviews may be done by appointment where interviewer goes to respondent's office.

Some special consumer studies may be done in-home by appointment.

Often respondents are recruited to come to a central location, or recruited from mall traffic to a nearby office to conduct interview.

Used for complicated or sensitive issues, B2B environments, or where extensive physical or visual display requirements exist along with need for specialized interviewing skills (depth probing, time for evaluation and reaction.)

High cost.

Can provide good hybrid method combining features of qualitative and quantitative research by asking quant-type questions first, followed by in-depth probing questions and projective techniques.

Skilled interviewer can extract more information than a self-administered method (mail, online)

Online Surveys

(Web Surveys)

Can employ true random probability sampling

Complicated survey questionnaire formats can be used. For example, piping, rating, rankings, constant sum questions, etc.

Easy to display visual information previously available only in a face-to-face interview format. (advertising copy, concept statements, projective stimuli, etc.)

Allows deployment of complicated respondent tasks. (card sorts, conjoint ratings, etc.)

Low relative cost

Generally, fast implementation.

Sampling control is critical.

Large pre-recruited panels allow quick access to willing respondents, although sampling validity must be carefully assessed.

Hybrid Survey Methods

Hybrid methods combine two or more techniques to optimize response or measurement validity.


  • Mail or phone invitation to online surveys.
  • "Online surveys with phone follow-up to permit depth probing of key market research questions by expert interviewer.
  • Quantitative surveys from which participants are selected based on their answers for a follow-up qualitative phase (focus group, depth)
  • Panel recruited from a one-time quantitative survey. (see market research panels details.)

Higher cost

More time required for implementation.

Enhances quality through higher response rates, and better response quality or validity.