Market Research Terms
The following terms are from either the Market Research Association's glossary of terms, the industy's leading professional association for market research, or the American Marketing Association's glossary of terms, the industry's leading professional association for marketing.
Data that is rolled up from a smaller unit to show summary data.
A technique used to aid memory, something that stimulates remembering, i.e., picture, words. Reading or showing the respondent the possible answers to a specific question.
To review information gained from the responses of questionnaires completed for a study; to arrive at conclusions and to make the necessary decisions and recommendations on the subject being studied.
A form of a cluster sample in which areas (for example, census tracts, blocks) serve as the primary sampling units. The population is divided into mutually exclusive and exhaustive areas using maps, and a random sample of areas is selected. If all the households in the selected areas are used in the study, it is one-stage area sampling, while if the areas themselves are subsampled with respect to households, the procedure is two-stage area sampling.
Every contact with a potential respondent; whether, or not, anyone is actually reached and whether, or not, a completed interview results.
A survey conducted to obtain information on how people feel about certain products, ideas or companies.
A word or phrase used to describe the idea, product or object being evaluated.
A measure of a respondent’s knowledge of a particular product, company, service or commercial. Categories of awareness or recall often employed in marketing research include “top of mind awareness,” “unaided awareness,” and “aided awareness.”
A series of cross tabulations between a criterion or dependent variable, and several, sometimes many, explanatory variables in a single table.
The required number of interviews requested to be completed.
A study conducted to obtain a snapshot or reading of current conditions prior to some change in market conditions or the introduction of some test conditions. These results are then used as a standard for comparison. Often used to refer to the first study in a series of like studies to be conducted over time at some regular interval.
Questions which are phrased or expressed in such a way that they influence the respondent’s opinion. They may provide information which leads the respondent to consider the subject in a specific way. Bias may be introduced through verbal or facial expressions, body language, or by paraphrasing questions.
An untrue statement of an opinion or attitude given by the respondent. This biased or untrue reporting can be conscious or unconscious.
A sample that is not representative of the Universe of the targeted audience.
A technique used to evaluate a package or product without benefit or influence of the brand name.
Refers to interviewing a specific person following a product usage or refers to attempts, after the first attempt, to contact potential respondents who were not previously available for interview.
Generally refers to a complete canvas of the population being studied.
Survey questions designed to describe respondents in terms of demographics such as age, income, occupation, etc. Sometimes these questions are called “control questions” or “background questions.”
These questions have the possible answers printed on the questionnaire. The interviewer is required merely to indicate the respondent’s answer from the possible choices.
Combining similar answers and assigning a numeric code so they may be processed by a computer. Usually done by a staff of people called Coders working from a code sheet of answers with their assigned code numbers.
Completion Rate (Completes Per Hour - CPH)
The number of interviews completed per hour of interviewing. Factors influencing completion rate are accuracy of sample, study incidence, interview length, screener length and cooperation rate (i.e. how many qualified respondents will actually complete the survey).
Questionnaires that are completed through a pre-determined question sequence and are included in the final data set for the study.
Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
The conduct of telephone surveys using computers to manage the sequence of questions and in which the answers are recorded electronically through the use of the keyboard.
A brief written description of a new product or service idea.
A test of consumer reaction to a description of a product or service rather than to the product or service itself.
A measure of how reliable a statistical result is, expressed as a percentage that indicates the probability of the result being correct. (This measurement is used with the margin of error calculation.)
Confidentiality refers to the act of not divulging two types of information in a research study. First, confidentiality is maintained when study information such as client name, brand name, purpose of the research, concepts and/or pro-ducts (except as directed by the study instructions) is only provided to those who have a need to know. Confidentiality also refers to maintaining the privacy of any information collected from or about any individual respondent.
A multivariate technique used for estimating the value people place on the attributes or features which define products and services. Conjoint analysis is a versatile marketing research technique that can provide valuable information for market segmentation, new product development, forecasting and pricing decisions. Respondents trade product attributes against each other to establish product (brand) preference and the relative importance of attributes. The advantage of conjoint analysis is that respondents are asked to evaluate products in the same manner as consumers; that is they trade off characteristics against one another during the evaluation process (the term conjoint is a contraction of CONsider JOINTly).
Cooperation Fee (Co-op)
Money paid to stores, respondents, etc. for cooperation on audits, focus groups, etc. Also called an incentive.
The percent of all qualified respondents who agree to complete an interview. The cooperation rate is impacted by length of interview, subject matter and type of person being interviewed.
Method of determining the degree of understanding, impact, awareness and believability that an ad may generate. Respondent is shown the ad, then questioned about his/her opinions.
CPI (Cost Per Interview)
This cost is determined by dividing the number of completed interviews into the total budget for a project.
Cross-Tab (X-Tab)/ Cross-Tabulation
A table which shows the frequency and/or percentage of respondents, who gave various answers to a question in the survey, and which simultaneously shows these answers for various sub-groups of respondents.
The term frequently used to describe the contents of surveys or polls. A group of facts or statistics.
The gathering of information (figures, words or responses) that describe some situation from which conclusions can be drawn. The gathering of information from administered questionnaires.
Data Collection Instrument
Any device used to gather information from a respondent, for example, questionnaires, computers, tape recorders, or video tape machines.
Demographics pertain to vital statistics, such as age, income, education and other personal characteristics of the respondent.
This is in-depth interview involving two people, the interviewer and the respondent. Also known as a "one-on-one."
A log, where information is recorded relating to respondent's experiences with a subject or product. Diaries can also be a record of regular purchases or viewing habits. Often given to respondents when they receive a product to use at home.
Provided by the client to help the respondent picture or understand the product/ideas under discussion.
A person who meets certain criteria set for a particular study and thus qualifies to be included in the study. Respondents may be qualified on such characteristics as age, income, brand used, etc.
Ethnography is a qualitative method of studying and learning about a person or group of people. Typically, ethnography involves the study of a small group of subjects in their own environment. Rather than looking at a small set of variables and a large number of subjects ("the big picture"), the ethnographer attempts to get a detailed understanding of the circumstances of the few subjects being studied. Ethnographic accounts, then, are both descriptive and interpretive; descriptive, because detail is so crucial, and interpretive, because the ethnographer must determine the significance of what she observes without gathering broad, statistical information.
Executive or Business-to-Business Interviews
Interviews that involve talking with business men and women in companies of all sizes.
See Management Report.
See Qualitative Research.
Eye Tracking Studies
Studies using Eyetools technology to track the eye movements of print or web page readers, in order to understand reading and click-through patterns.
The physical location where the interviewing takes place.
An unstructured interviewing technique where a small group (8 to 10) of eligible respondents are invited to participate in a discussion about a particular topic. A trained moderator guides the discussion of the respondent group. A type of qualitative research. (See also Online Bulletin Boards and Online Focus Groups.)
The number of times a specific condition exists. This is usually recorded by number of times per day, per week or per month.
Full Service Research Company
A company hired by a manufacturer or service company to design and manage the implementation of a research project, as well as analyze and interpret the data. The full service company may collect the data themselves or hire a data collection company for this phase of a project.
Head of Household (HH)
One person in a household is termed as the "Head." The Head is usually the person who has primary decision-making responsibility for the household and lives in the dwelling. When two or more people share this responsibility, the client will specify which individual should be surveyed. It may be the person earning the greater income in the household. Survey assignments will generally specify male or female Head of Household to be interviewed.
A survey where an interviewer enters a respondent's home to take an actual inventory of particular products on hand in the house at the time of the interview.
Home Use Test (HUT)
The placement of a test product with the respondent to be used under in-home usage conditions over a specific time period. The test product may be "identified" or labeled as to what it is, or the product may be "blind," only identified by a code letter or number. Respondents may be questioned before they are given the product to use. They are definitely questioned about their reactions to the product after their in-home use experience.
A statement that specifies how two or more measurable variables are related.
In-depth Interview (IDI)
An interviewing approach which delves into the respondent's reactions to questions in an unstructured manner. In all in-depth interviews, a guide is essential, enabling the interviewer to direct the flow of conversation to relevant subjects. In many cases, the interviewer will be a trained focus group moderator. A type of qualitative research.
See Cooperation (Co-op) Fee.
In marketing and opinion research, incidence is a measure of the level of effort needed to reach qualified or eligible respondents. A percentage of the population or group that qualifies for inclusion in the sample using some criteria. The frequency of something occurring in the population. It usually refers to persons and is stated as a percentage (i.e., the percentage of people in the U.S. who eat cereal for breakfast).
This occurs when a respondent refuses to participate in a survey at the interviewer's initial introductory statement.
Asking questions and recording answers via computer.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Research
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) research allows respondents to take surveys by interacting with a computer using a telephone touch pad instead of a computer keyboard, incoming telephone call, direct mail questionnaire or face-to-face interview. Respondents call a toll-free phone number, enter a code and then take a survey. Respondents enter their responses by using the touch-buttons on the phone's keypad. If a "voice capture" feature is used, open-ended responses are digitally recorded when the respondent speaks into the phone's mouthpiece. The data captured are available almost instantaneously to the researcher. It should be noted that IVR research technology can be combined with more traditional research techniques to form a hybrid interview methodology. For example, if certain stimuli need to be presented, such as pictures of new package designs, the stimuli can be provided to the respondent on paper and then the survey administered via IVR.
A term used to describe a study conducted in person with respondents who are approached or intercepted in high traffic locations such as grocery stores or shopping malls.
The exchange of information between the interviewer and the respondent. A questionnaire is the vehicle used for this exchange. The interviewer records the respondent's responses to a question or series of questions. The exchange can be in person or on the telephone; answers can be recorded on paper or via computer.
The person conducting the interviewing by asking questions.
An influence on answers to questions caused by the presence, attitudes or actions of the person asking the questions.
Length of Interview
The actual number of minutes it takes to ask the questions and record the answers in a survey. This should include the time it takes to taste any products, review concepts, etc. Screening time should be shown separately so that accurate completion rates can be calculated.
An investigation involving a sample of elements that is measured repeatedly through time.
A collection of respondents who have been recruited to participate in surveys conducted through the mail. The organization that has developed a mail panel generally has classification data about the household to allow the client to select a sample of respondents with whom to conduct a survey. Mail Panels can be local or national in scope.
A survey conducted via mail. Respondents may, or may not, be recruited ahead of time to participate.
Interviews conducted in shopping malls by randomly selecting people from among those present to be screened. The main part of the interview can take place either on the mall floor or inside the offices of a data collection company located within the mall.
A summary report of the survey data covering the highlights or key findings.
Margin of Error
In statistics, a measurement of the accuracy of the results of a survey. The smaller the margin of error, the more accurate the data. (This measurement is used with the confidence level of a survey.)
A process used to define the size, location, and/or makeup of the market for a product or service.
The geographic area or areas in which a research project takes place. A market may be a region of the country, a state, a county, a city or some portion of a city.
Marketing & Opinion Research
A process used by businesses to collect, analyze and interpret information used to make sound business decisions and successfully manage the business.
This term refers to methods of message communication. Media is the plural of medium. Magazines, newspapers, radio, television and billboards are referred to as advertising media.
Research that is centered on issues of media selection and efficiency.
Research method that examines the impact of advertising through various media.
Procedure by which data are collected (i.e., mall intercept, telephone survey, focus group, etc.).
Someone who is the leader of a focus group discussion, in-depth interview, or other meeting. Often works from pre-determined outline of subjects to be covered.
A study or part of a study in which the respondent evaluates only one stimulus on its own merits, rather than comparing it to other test stimuli. The stimulus can be a product, concept, advertisement, etc.
A quality control measure which may involve observing, auditing and checking the interviewing for the purposes of ensuring required procedures are followed and to give feedback and instruction to the interviewers. Monitoring is one means of validating or giving assurance that data is collected from qualified respondents who are interviewed under prescribed conditions. Monitoring can be done in person for face-to-face interviews or by telephone for telephone interviews.
A person sent into a business location to act in the role of a customer to evaluate business and/or employee performance. A type of observational research.
Mystery Shopping is a research technique used by a wide variety of commercial, governmental and other organizations. Its purpose is to help to assess and improve the standards of service they provide to their customers by comparing their achieved performance against their own targets and against the standards provided by competitors and other organizations. Provided that it is carried out professionally and with appropriate safeguards, Mystery Shopping is a valid and legitimate form of marketing research. It does have certain unique characteristics that distinguish it from other types of research. In particular, “respondents” are not aware that they are the subjects of research. Also, contrary to other Marketing Research standards, identifying the respondent’s name to the sponsor is usually part of the process. This is because one of the most common uses of Mystery Shopping is to evaluate a company’s training program as it relates to customer service delivery. An individual respondent’s performance may be assessed as part of the process. Additionally, it is not unusual for companies to use the outcome of Mystery Shopping as a way to identify employees who need further training or who deserve bonuses or rewards. The approach involves the use of evaluators who are specially trained to observe and measure the nature and quality of the services being offered to customers. These evaluators, or Mystery Shoppers, pose as consumers and chronicle detailed information about their Mystery Shopping experience using questionnaires or narrative reports. Mystery Shopping is used not only by Marketing Researchers but also by merchandisers, security firms, private investigators and employee training groups and organizations.
N.A. (No Answer/Not Applicable)
The accepted abbreviation to indicate no response to a question because the respondent refused to reply, the question did not apply, or it was skipped for some reason.
A means of collecting data through watching the situation of interest and recording behaviors, pertinent facts or actions.
A survey which examines a number of unrelated topics or issues. This may be a "shared expense" study in which a number of different clients participate.
One-on-One Interview (1-on-1)
An interview conducted by an interviewer with one respondent at a time.
A sheet of glass which, when viewed from one side, appears to be a normal mirror, and when viewed from the other side, is transparent. Utilized in marketing research when observation of respondents is desired without their being aware they are being observed. A one-way mirror is often used in Focus Group Discussions.
Online Bulletin Board (Type of Focus Group)
Bulletin Board Focus Groups are designed uniquely for market research on the Web. A professional moderator facilitates the online focus group discussion over an extended timeframe. This methodology allows for highly involved discussions, as participants are free to login at their own convenience and spend time providing thoughtful input to a sequence of questions posted methodically by the moderator. Key attributes include reaching diverse geographic and specialized participants and highly detailed transcripts.
Online Focus Group (Type of Focus Group)
Online Focus Groups are similar to in-person focus groups but designed for the Web. They are advantageous when wanting topline input in real time, as well as needing to reach participants in diverse geographic locations.
Open-End (O.E.) Questions
Questions which have no set of anticipated responses listed on the questionnaires. The interviewer records the respondent's verbatim response. When the survey is interviewer-administered, the respondent is encouraged to respond completely and freely with the use of probing and clarifying techniques. These questions may also be self-administered.
The problem which occurs when the sequence of questions or answers on a questionnaire tends to influence respondents to answer in a certain manner.
Paired Comparison Evaluation
A study or part of a study in which the respondent compares two or more test stimuli (i.e., products, concepts, labels, etc.) according to some criterion, such as preference.
A general term used to describe a pre-selected group of homogeneous people used more than once over a period of time to collect information.
A group of techniques for visually depicting where your products and services are versus the competition. You can see the product or service's image in the market and how it compares to that of the competition. The outcome of perceptual mapping, a "product map", provides a visual cue that often identifies an opening where there is little or no competition for a product or service. The product map produces a picture or map of a market. The map shows how products are perceived on specific features or attributes such as reputation, price, quality etc. Product maps show which products compete in the consumer's mind and suggests how a product can be positioned to maximize preference and sales.
Respondents are questioned face-to-face by the interviewer. The interviewer may cover any topic. The personal interview can be conducted in the respondent's home, place of business, or at a central location facility. These interviews can be long or short, depending on the topic to be discussed. Exhibits are often used in this approach to aid the respondent in answering questions.
The physical location where product is actually purchased. This term may be used to refer to materials used at the point of purchase to promote or call attention to a product or sale (P.O.P. Materials). It may also refer to conducting research at the point of purchase to obtain the purchasers top of mind reaction to the product just purchased.
Used by government agencies, officials, candidates and political parties to determine the opinion of the electorates.
The total number of people in a country or region or any geographic area or political subdivision.
Consumers or business professionals are contacted either by telephone, mail or in person and invited to participate in a study scheduled for a future date and time, if qualified. People who agree and are eligible are often compensated for their participation in the interview.
A phrase used to describe two different activities. "Pre-test" is used most often to describe a procedure where the design or questionnaire itself is tested on a small scale before it is put to use in a full-scale study. It is conducted to assure that the questionnaire and the actual study are designed properly to elicit the desired information. Pre-test is also a term used by many advertising agencies to describe a procedure where people are asked what they think of certain advertising headlines and/or advertising before they appear in magazines or on TV. Also referred to in this sense as a "Bench Mark."
An interviewing technique used to obtain more information from the respondent. Often used on open-ended questions.
Projective Test Technique
A method of getting the respondent to project himself into role-playing. Used in qualitative research.
A model or mock-up of a proposed product or package.
A means of grouping people based on lifestyle and attitude characteristics, rather than demographic.
Purchase Intention Measurement
A measure of the respondent's attitude toward buying a product or service.
A sample of households which report their purchases of pre-designated items on a continuous basis.
This occurs once all qualifying questions have been asked. The respondent is eligible for the test, but for some reason, refuses or is unable to complete the study.
See Eligible Respondent.
See In-depth Interview.
Research that yields an in-depth understanding about an issue. Qualitative research typically focuses on a small number of people. Since these people are interviewed in-depth, interviews tend to be longer and are often unstructured. An outline of discussion points, rather than a questionnaire, is often used. This type of research also tends to be conducted in person, either in focus groups or one-on-one interviews.
Research used to statistically estimate the viewpoints of a population providing estimates of percentages or averages. This research usually employs larger samples and takes less of the respondent's time. Telephone surveys, mail surveys, intercept surveys, central location studies, in-home use studies, door-to-door studies are all used in quantitative research.
The printed or computer form or instrument used to ask specific questions. Questions are to be asked exactly the same way by all interviewers on a study.
The total number of interviews to be completed by a data collection company. Quotas may also be defined by market, by product, by interviewer, by rotation, etc.
Given a specified sampling procedure, all consumers within the universe have an equal chance for respondent selection.
A procedure requiring the respondent to order a set of items with respect to some designated property of interest such as first, second, third, etc., on overall preference or a specific product characteristic. Note: Each rank level may only be used once by a single respondent.
A procedure used to evaluate the concept, product, advertisement, etc. being tested. It requires each re-spondent to select one response from a scale to indicate the degree of his/her opinion.
A respondent recounting what he/she remembers about something they have read, heard or seen without the benefit of stimuli. The method is used in measuring brand and advertising awareness.
To invite respondents who meet specific eligibility criteria to take part in a research project. Recruiting can be conducted in person, on the telephone, or by mail.
The percentage of people who refuse to participate in a particular study.
Respondents who will not participate in an interview. Refusals are tracked at various points within a survey, i.e., initial refusal, qualified refusal, etc.
Selection of a sub-set which proportionately represents the total universe from which it was selected.
The person who is interviewed. No matter what type of survey is being conducted, the person being interviewed is always called the respondent.
See Cooperation Fee.
A reply or answer to a question or statement on the questionnaire.
A term meaning that a person can pretend he/she is someone other than who he/she is to influence response. This technique is sometimes used by moderators while conducting qualitative interviews. Most often it refers to the procedure used by interviewers to prepare for conducting an interview.
The manner in which various questions are asked or exhibits/products are shown in different order for every interview, as instructed. This process eliminates the possibility of order bias that could develop if all questions were asked and exhibits shown in exactly the same order for every interview conducted on a particular study.
The statistical selection of some respondents to represent the opinions of many. The answers of the interviewed respondents (sample) are used to predict the opinions of the larger number of persons they represent.
The number of interviews to be completed in a study.
Procedures an interviewer is to follow in selecting re-spondents to interview. These sampling instructions may also be called sampling plans or procedures or respondent selection. Must be followed exactly to assure accurate respondent selection.
A measurement device which allows a respondent to report the "degree" of his/her opinion. Scales are usually in the form of statements or numbers. Pictures may be used in face-to-face interviews. They are sometimes printed on exhibit cards for easier understanding.
The procedure which involves interviewers asking specified questions to determine if respondents are eligible or qualified for a particular study. Done at the very beginning of the interview.
These are the questions, usually at the beginning of a survey, which determine whether a respondent is qualified or eligible to participate in the study. Some of these questions are intended to prevent people with special interest in the study's subject from gaining access to the study information through participation in the study.
A questioning technique which uses an unfinished statement which the respondent must complete with the first words which come to mind.
Sequential Monadic Evaluation
Two or more similar stimuli (products, advertising, etc.) are each evaluated monadically, that is, separately, one after the other, by the same respondent. The stimuli are usually rotated so they are not evaluated in the same position (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) by all respondents.
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes were developed by the federal government to classify US businesses by their type of activity. Similar companies are grouped together and assigned a code. It is important to be able to compare companies against similar companies in their industry. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system allows researchers to make these comparisons. SIC codes are 4-digit codes, designed by the Federal government, to classify business by industry type. For example, SIC 3571, Electronic Computers, is the classification for companies that manufacture computers. Many business research sources are arranged by SIC. When beginning your research on an industry, it is important to determine your SIC code. In 1997 the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS, pronounced "nakes") was adopted jointly by the U.S., Canada and Mexico to replace the SIC. These codes were designed to be more descriptive than the SIC system and include emerging industries. However, many sources have yet to migrate to the NAICS system.
Skip patterns involve the process of skipping particular questions depending on how the respondent answers one or more previous question(s). These skip patterns (directions) will be pre-printed on the questionnaire or programmed into a computer survey.
Details furnished by the client outlining the project. Generally, the specifications will include start date, deadline, respondent qualifications, incidence, number of surveys to be completed, interview length, etc.
Elements and materials that are utilized or being tested in research, such as a Web site, advertisement, creative concept, etc.
See Closed-End Questions.
An interview conducted to collect information. The interviewer records facts or opinions from the respondent.
A single research study conducted by a research company with its results available, for sale, to multiple client companies.
Tabulation (Tab Report)
Tables which show the results of each question asked in the survey and which are used for analyzing the data.
Respondents evaluate the taste of a product, either absolutely or compared to something else. Generally, taste tests are conducted at a central location, but, if the product(s) can be shipped or carried home, the test can be conducted in the respondent's home.
Respondents are interviewed via the telephone. The telephone interview is normally conducted from a central telephone facility.
When an interview is stopped before completion. This may occur for one of three reasons: 1) the respondent gives a nonqualifying response and the interviewer is instructed to TERMINATE AND TALLY; 2) the interviewer decides to terminate the interview because of a language problem or disability on the part of the respondent; or 3) the respondent refuses to complete the entire survey.
Top-of-Mind Awareness (TOMA)
A measure of a respondent's first mention to questions such as unaided brand awareness, unaided advertising awareness, unaided brands purchased.
A preliminary report showing the responses (frequencies and/or percentages) to all or a portion of the questionnaire.
An in-depth interview involving three people; two respondents and one interviewer.
Triangular Product Test
A blind test of two similar products to determine the degree to which consumers can differentiate between them. In actual practice, the respondent is permitted to try three products; two are identical, one is different. The task is to correctly identify the product that is different.
A respondent's recall of a brand name, commercial, etc. without any cues or prompts from the interviewer. The answer list is not read.
Questions that are read in such a way that they do not influence the respondents or provide information which may color the opinions of the respondents.
Usability Testing is the assessment of a product or service's effectiveness and efficiency as viewed by a specified group of users. It is customer-focused and based upon actual product/service trial. Usability Testing is most frequently employed with Web site testing, but is also used for myriad other applications such as assembly instructions, packaging use, product preparation and other consumer-based actions. Usability testing is a technique for ensuring that the intended users of a system can carry out the intended tasks. During a Usability Test, a professional facilitator gathers feedback to improve product design. The immediate result of a Usability Test is a list of specific recommendations as to how to improve the product. Cameras and microphones are used to record the participant's expressions and movements while participating in the actions required. Usability Testing not only provides a disaster check, but also, when properly employed, can provide direction for appropriate product design and marketing.
The procedure used to confirm the fact that the interview was conducted according to all specifications and instructions, and with the person indicated by name, address and/or telephone number on the questionnaire. Validation can be performed by the data collection company and/or client in person, by telephone, or by mail.
Word-for-word. Questions on the survey are asked exactly as written and responses to a question are recorded exactly as the respondent says them, in the first person, without any omissions, abbreviations or interpretations by the interviewer.
A research technique where the respondent is given one word or a name and asked to respond with whatever other words come to mind. This technique is sometimes used as a part of the evaluation of new product names.