In a cross-cultural survey of marketing managers from English-speaking African countries. questionnaires were mailed to 565 firms. A total of 192 completed questionnaires were returned. of which four were discarded because respondents suggested that they were not in charge of overall marketing decisions. The decision to discard the four questionnaires was based on the consideration that the sample size was sufficiently large and the proportion of unsatisfactory respondents was small.
Coding means assigning a code usually a number to each possible response to each question. If the questionnaire contains only structured questions or very few unstructured questions, it is precoded. This means that codes are assigned before fieldwork is conducted. If the questionnaire: contains unstructured questions, codes are assigned after the questionnaires have been returned from the field (postcoding). Although precoding was briefly discussed in Chapter 10 on questionnaire design, we provide further guidelines on coding structured and open-ended questions in the next section.
The respondent code and the record number should appear on each record in t~e data. However, the record code can be dispensed if there is only one record for each respondent. The following additional codes should be included for each respondent: project code. interviewer code. date and time codes. and validation code. Fixed-field codes. which mean that the number of records for each respondent is the same and the same data appear in the same column(s) for all respondents, are highly desirable. If possible, standard codes should be used for missing data. For example, a code of 9 could be used for a single-column variable, 99 for a double-column variable. and so on. The missing value codes should be distinct from the codes assigned to the legitimate responses.
Coding of structured questions is relatively simple. because the response options are predetermined. The researcher assigns a code or each response to each question and specifies the appropriate record and columns in which the response codes are to appear. For example.
Do you have a currently valid passport?
1. Yes 2. No (1/54)
For this question, a “Yes” response is coded I and a “No” response, 2. The numbers in parent. theses indicate that the code assigned will appear on the first record for this respondent in column 54. Because only one response is allowed and there are only two possible responses (I or 2), a single column is sufficient. In general, a single column is sufficient to code a structured question with a single response if there are fewer than nine possible responses. In questions that permit a large number of responses, each possible response option should be assigned a separate column. Such questions include those about brand ownership or usage, magazine readership, and television viewing.
Which accounts do you now have at this bank? (“X” as many as apply)
Regular savings account Ο (162)
Regular checking account Ο (162)
Mortgage Ο (162)
Now account Ο (162)
Club account (Christmas, etc.) Ο (162)
Line of credit Ο (162)
Term savings account (time deposits, etc.) Ο (162)
Savings bank life insurance Ο (162)
Home improvement loan Ο (162)
Auto loan Ο (162)
Other services Ο (162)
In this example, suppose a respondent checked regular savings, regular checking, and term savings accounts. On record lI.a I will be entered in the column numbers 162, 163, and 168. All the other columns (164,165,166,167,169, I7Q. 171. and 172) will receive. Because there is only one record per respondent, the record number has been omitted.
The coding of unstructured or open-ended questions is more complex. Respondents’ verbatim responses are recorded on the questionnaire. Codes are then developed and assigned to these responses. Sometimes. based on previous projects or theoretical considerations, the researcher can develop the codes before beginning fieldwork. Usually, this must wait until the completed questionnaires are received. Then the researcher lists 50 to 100 responses to an unstructured question to identify the categories suitable for coding. Once codes are developed, the coders should be trained to assign the correct codes to the verbatim responses. The following guidelines are suggested for coding unstructured questions and questionnaires in general.
Category codes should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Categories are mutually exclusive if each response fits into one and only one category code. Categories should not overlap. Categories are collectively exhaustive if every response fits into one of the assigned category codes. This can be achieved by adding an additional category code of “other” or “none of the above.” However, only a few (10 percent or less) of the responses should fall into this category. The vast majority of the responses should be classified into meaningful categories.
Category codes should be assigned for critical issues even if no one has mentioned them. It may be important to know that no one has mentioned a particular response. For example. the management of a major consumer goods company was concerned about the packaging for a new brand of toilet soap. Hence, packaging was included as a separate category in coding responses to the question, “What do you like least about this toilet soap?”
Data should be coded to retain as much detail as possible. For example. if data on the exact number of trips made on commercial airlines by business travelers have been obtained, they should be coded as such. rather that grouped into two category codes of “infrequent fliers” and “frequent fliers.” Obtaining information on the exact number of trips allow, the researcher to later define categories of business travelers in several different ways. lithe categories were predefined; the subsequent analysis of data would be limited by those categories.
Developing a Data File
The code for a response to a question includes an indication of the column position field) and data record it will occupy. For example. gender of respondents may be coded as I for females and 2 for field represents a single variable value or item of data. such as the gender of respondent. Although numeric information is mast C0Jl11ll0n in marketing research, a field can also contain alphabetic or symbolic information. A record consists of related fields variable values such as sex marital status age and so forth. all pertaining to a single respondent. Thus. each record can have several columns. Generally. all the data for a respondent will be stored on a single record. although a number of record, may be used study that are grouped together for storage in the computer. If a single record is used for each respondent. records represent rows in a data file. In such a case. a data file may be viewed as an matrix of numbers or values, where n is the number of respondents and the number of variables or fields. It is often helpful to prepare a codebook containing the coding instructions and the necessary information about the variables in the data set (see the opening Project Research example).
In Table 14.1. as well as in the corresponding EXCEL and SPSS files. the columns represent the fields, and the rows represent the records or respondents. as there is one record per respondent. Notice that there are seven columns. The first column contains the respondent ID. and the second column contains the preference for the restaurant. Columns three to six contain the evaluations of the restaurant on quality of food, quantity of portions. value, and service. respectively. Finally. the seventh column contains the respondent’s income, coded as specified in the codebook. Each row contains all the data of a single respondent and represents a record. There are 20 rows or records, indicating that data for 20 respondents are stored in this data file. Note that Table 14.1 is a 20 x 7 matrix, as there are 20 respondents and 7 variables (including ID). Databases consist of one or more files that are interrelated. For example, a database may contain all the customer satisfaction surveys conducted quarterly for the last 5 years.
Are There Any Patriotic Feelings Toward the New England Patriots?
Visit www.themarketingresearch.com and conduct an Internet search using a search engine and your library’s online database toobtain information on why people attend professional football games. As the marketing director for the New England Patriots, what information would you like to have to formulate marketing strategies to increase the attendance at the Patriots home games?
Asurveywasadministered to attendees at a Patriots home game to determine why they were attending. What principlewiUyou foUowin checking the questionnaire, editing, and coding?