How to Identify Sources of Error in Marketing Research Data

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  • 0:03 Sources of Error in…
  • 0:42 Interview the Right…
  • 1:21 Ask the Right…
  • 2:32 Ensure Specific Responses
  • 4:13 Ensure the Right Sample Size
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lynn Doerr

Lynn has worked in various aspects of marketing for many years and has a Master's degree in Marketing Communication.

Market research can be valuable when companies are making strategic decisions on how to market their products. But, research is only as good as the methodology used to collect the data. This lesson examines what can go wrong in data collection.

Sources of Error in Market Research Data

Market research is a great way for a company to better understand its customers. Insights can help a company develop messaging and programs to successfully market and sell a product. But not all data is useful. Why is that? It's not unusual that the research approach needs to be tweaked after a study has begun to make sure the focus is in the right place.

In this lesson, we'll review some of the common areas where errors are likely to occur in data collection. If you review these issues before initiating a study, you can make sure the data you collect is useful in informing your overall business strategy.

Interview the Right Customers/Audience

Interviewing the right customers is a good place to start because surveying the wrong audience won't deliver the information you need. Sometimes market research companies will develop a screener, a pre-questionnaire, to ensure that they are researching the right customers. For instance, if a company wants to investigate who has eaten their frozen pizzas and why they like them, the first question might be: 'Have you ever eaten Brand X frozen pizza?' Sometimes the selected audience will be a specific gender or age group or even focused on certain professions, hobbies, or interests. The key is to make sure you're surveying the people whose opinion is valuable to you.

Ask the Right Questions & Be Consistent

Asking the right questions and ensuring consistency in methodology are probably some the toughest areas for any researcher and often demand refinement. In qualitative research, where the style more closely resembles an open interview, an interviewer may adjust questions after the first few subjects if he/she determines that the answers are not yielding sufficient information. Going back to our frozen pizza example, if the interviewer finds that the first few subjects answer 'yes' that they have tried the pizza but have only eaten one variety of the pizza, the company may decide to add another question to determine why subjects have not tried additional varieties of the brand.

In quantitative research, the questions are structured for specific responses. The interviewer needs to be sure to ask exactly the same questions with each subject. If the questions, the order of the questions, or the responses change in any way, the results of the study could be skewed. For example, you don't want to ask one subject if he/she prefers pepperoni or sausage and ask another subject if he/she prefers pepperoni or veggie. How would you measure the responses consistently?

Ensure Specific Responses

If a researcher is conducting qualitative research, he/she can always dig a little deeper with follow-up questions to better understand a participant's response. By staying focused on an end objective, an experienced interviewer can quickly make adjustments to make sure the information is focused on a specific topic or area.

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