Data Collection & Preparation in Marketing Research

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  • 0:03 Getting Data in the System
  • 1:45 Analyzing the Data
  • 3:10 Online Surveys
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

Regardless of whether your sample is large or small, how you process the data you collect from marketing research will have a huge impact on its value. In this lesson, we'll examine how data is tabulated from traditional methods and online surveys.

Getting Data in the System

You've mailed out 2,000 surveys and received 200 responses. Now it's time to compile and tabulate the data. How does the process work?

It depends upon how the form was designed. If it was designed to be scanned via optical character recognition (OCR), that would be the data entry process. Machine scanning is quicker, but may also miss things that the human eye could check. If the form had handwritten short-answer questions, for example, the responses would have to be keyed in manually. You could do this processing in house or hire a data entry service to do the work.

Your service needs to look at the survey responses for the following criteria:

  • Incomplete, inadequate answers
  • Directions were followed
  • Missing pages
  • Illegible responses

Data cleaning is the process of finding and correcting (or removing) errors and inconsistencies. Here, we are looking for the outliers, the items that don't make sense. If a response is missing, you can decide whether to substitute a neutral value (maybe the mean for the variable) or use an imputed response, which is implied by the respondent's other answers.

If there are survey questions that don't use a numeric scale, you can use coding to assign an alpha or numeric code to frequently occurring answers. Assigning a code to an answer allows it to be part of a data set that can be run through statistical analysis.

Let's say you hired an outside firm to perform a phone survey or run a focus group. Many vendors will help you with the survey design. They provide a file with the data in a form. You can import this into a spreadsheet or another package for statistical analysis. Some vendors run the data analysis for you and present you with the results.

Analyzing the Data

Market researchers can tabulate data or use statistical analysis tools like frequency distributions. Putting the data into a table with columns and rows like a spreadsheet allows for cross tabulation, which is comparing two more variables simultaneously. Cross tabulation makes data easy to interpret for market researchers who are not statistically inclined. For example, let's say you put together a two-column table with one column for age and one column for race. Once the data is in, you could immediately see the most prevalent group, by age or race, by who responded to the survey.

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