We have covered the basic survey methods. Other survey methods are also used, which are variations of these basic methods. The more popular of these other methods are described in Table 63.
Selection of Survey Methods
As is evident from Table 6.2 and the preceding discussion, no survey method is superior in all situations. Depending upon such factors as information requirements, budgetary constraints (time and money), and respondent characteristics, none, one, two, or even all methods may be appropriate.I’ Remember that the various data-collection modes are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they can be employed in a complementary fashion to build on each other’s strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. The researcher can employ these methods in combination and develop creative methods. To illustrate, in a classic project, interviewers distributed the product, self-administered questionnaires, and returned envelopes to respondents. Traditional telephone interviews were used for follow-up. Combining the data-collection modes resulted in telephone cooperation from 97 percent of the respondents. Furthermore, 82 percent of the questionnaires were returned by mail.32 In the chapter introduction, we illustrated how election polling successfully used telephone and Internet interviewing. However, caution should be exercised when using different methods in the same domestic marketing research project (also called the use of mixed-mode surveys). The method used may affect the responses obtained and hence the responses obtained by different methods may not be comparable. The results of studies examining the effect of survey methods on respondents are not very consistent. The following department store project example illustrates the selection of a survey mode, whereas the P&G example illustrates the use of a combination of survey methods
Personal In-Home Interviews
In the department store project. personal in-home interviews were utilized, for a number of reasons. Many diverse questions were asked. Some questions were complex and a relatively large amount of data had to be collected. The information obtained was not sensitive or threatening. Trained students were used as interviewers, thereby reducing the cost. Another critical consideration was that the personal interviews could be conducted without subcontracting the data collection to a field service organization
Telephone methods were not chosen due to the complexity of the questions and amount of data needed. Mall intercept and CAPI were not appropriate either, because so much data were needed. The use of a central location facility would have necessitated subcontracting with a field service organization. Mail surveys were ruled out due to low response rate and complexity of the information needed. Mail panels were inappropriate given the complexity of information needed; a self-administered questionnaire was not considered to be appropriate. Electronic methods were not chosen because many people in the target market did not have access to e-mail or the Internet when the survey was conducted.
P&G’s Tide: Getting the Buzz with Nielsen BuzzMetrics
Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ Brand Pulse suite of products-BrandPulse and BrandPulse Insight-measure consumer-generated media to help companies understand consumer needs, reactions, and issues. BrandPulse helps answer basic and fundamental questions about the volume, spread, and influence of word-of-mouth practices and consumer-to-consumer recommendations on a company or brand. BrandPulse Insight provides the latest information on hot consumer trends, up-to-the-minute data about growing consumer concerns, safety/quality issues, or sudden shifts in consumer opinions. It generates verifiable data about the online consumers who are best suited to influence and shape word-of-mouth behavior.
The .one of the most popular consumer brands in the world from P&G, wanted to boost its consumer image for a variety of reasons. TIde’s feedback system needed to spread information and brand data more quickly to receive complete data and identify niche markets. The chose BrandPulse suite to redesign its feedback system. The is now capturing and assimilating on one platform consumer feedback from all incoming sources, including word of mouth. TIde’s Web site has a whole new look and feel, with consumers receiving instant self-service answers to many of their queries about TIde products and issues. Those requiring follow-up are automatically routed to the appropriate consumer relations representative. Consumers with stain questions are linked to TIde’s “Stain Detective: and when appropriate, other consumers are offered surveys, study opportunities, coupons, or special promotions. All functions are powered by Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ tools but maintain the look and feel of The’s Web site. Such proactive gathering of information helps in the development of new products as well. This is reflected in the number of product improvements Tide has made. P&G had modified this product 22 times in its 21 years of existence. It also makes modifications to cater to market segments such as geographies. For example. a Tide bar was introduced in the Indian market after considering the opinion of its Indian users
Observation methods are the second type of methodology used in descriptive research. Observation involves recording the behavioral patterns of people, objects, and events in a systematic manner to obtain information about the phenomenon of interest. The observer
observed. Information may be recorded as the events occur or from records of past events. Observanonar mernocrs may be structured or unstructured, direct or indirect. Furthermore, observation may be conducted in a natural or contrived environment
Natural Versus Contrived Observation
Natural observation involves observing behavior as it takes place in the environment. For example, one could observe the behavior of respondents eating fast food at Burger King. In contrived observation, respondents’ behavior is observed in an artificial environment, such as a test kitchen set up in a shopping mall.
The advantage of natural observation is that the observed phenomenon will more accurately reflect the true phenomenon. The disadvantages are the cost of waiting for the phenomenon to occur and the difficulty of measuring the phenomenon in a natural setting. The Canon Cameras example in the “Overview” section presented an example of unstructured, disguised observation in a natural setting
Observation Methods Classified by Mode of Administration
As shown in Figure 6.3, observation methods may be classified by mode of administration as personal observation, mechanical observation, audit, content analysis, and trace analysis
In personal observation, a researcher observes actual behavior as it occurs, as in the Canon Cameras example in the “Overview” section. The observer does not attempt to control or manipulate the phenomenon being observed. The observer merely records what takes place. For example. a researcher might record traffic counts and observe traffic flows in a department store. This information could aid in designing store layout and determining location of individual departments, shelf locations, and merchandise displays. Companies like Microsoft also make use of personal observation in learning about the software needs of users.l” Another example is provided in the context of the department store project.
Mirra Nonsticking Itself from a Sticky Situation
The objective of the research was to determine what characteristics could be added to their kitchenware in order to be more beneficial to the user. The company hired Meta phase design group to conduct observational market research by using in-house personal meetings with female heads of households. The cities that Metaphase targeted were St. Louis. Boston, and San Francisco. All in-house observations were videotaped for later analysis. The results showed that the most problematic activities involving kitchenware were its pouring characteristics, its storage problems, and its difficulty to clean. More specifically. the company found. “Pouring was a problem. as was moving food in and out of the pan. And people didn’t know what to do with their lids while they were cooking. They complained about the mess that lids leave when you have to set them on the counter or on the stove top.” Metaphase also noted that most consumers were unhappy with the ability of “nonstick” pans to not stick.
Content analysis is an appropriate method when the phenomenon to be observed is communication, rather than behavior or physical objects. It is defined as the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the. manifest content of a communication.43 It includes observation as well as analysis. The unit of analysis may be words (different words or types of words in the message), characters (individuals or objects), themes (propesitions), space and time measures (length or duration of the message), or topics (subject of the message), Analytical categories for classifying the units are developed and the communication is broken down according to prescribed rules. Marketing research applications involve observing and analyzing the content or message of advertisements, newspaper articles, television and radio programs, and the like. For example. the frequency of appearance of blacks, women, and members of other minority groups in mass media has been studied using content analysis. Suppose we wanted to examine how the portrayal of women in U.S. magazine advertising has changed, positively or negatively, over the IO-year period from 1998 to 2008. We could select a sample of 100 magazines that were in circulation in 1998 as well as in 2008. We could select 10 advertisements featuring women for each of these magazines, from different issues of each magazine, for 1998 as well as 2008. This will give us a sample of 1,000 advertisements for each year. We could then develop positive as well as negative categories for classifying the advertisements based on how they have portrayed the role of women. The number and percentage of advertisements falling in the positive and negative categories could then be compared. The analysis might look something like this:
This analysis indicates that the positive portrayal of women in U.S. magazine advertising has gone up dramatically, increasing from 45 percent in 1998 to 70 percent in 2008. The greatest increase is in the contribution to society category, which has increased from 20 percent in 1998 to 35 percent in 2008. On the other hand, the negative portrayal of women as sex symbols has markedly decreased from 35 percent in 1998 to 15 percent in 2008.
In the department store patronage project, content analysis may be used to analyze magazine advertisements of the sponsoring and competing stores to compare their projected images. Content analysis has also been used in cross-cultural advertising research, as in the following example.