QUANTITATIVE market research is used to measure brand performance post-launch, map out a marketplace pre-launch or comprehend reactions to the latest marketing plans or product developments.
Traditionally, such research has been conducted either by telephone or structured face-to-face interviews. In the late 1990s, however, the Internet emerged as an alternative methodology. Now online market research has well and truly come of age. It has gained credibility among marketers and researchers for a number of reasons:
The general public now have very high levels of internet access, with over 80 per cent of the UK adult population connected either at home or work
online fieldwork has proved faster , with surveys completed and results available much more rapidly than traditional methodologies.
Images and concepts can be shown on a multimedia platform (including audio and video), randomly or in sequence, as stimulus material within a survey.
Lower project management costs and the lack of fieldwork staff offers significant cost advantages over traditional research, bringing it within reach of clients who may previously have thought of bespoke market research as being too expensive.
SMS has seen an increasing demand for online research following recent large contract wins from major blue chip companies. SMS is able to offer these services as part of a complete research project as opposed to expensive consultancy and specialist organisations. The company has recently used online research for global brand leaders to evaluate competing product concepts, advertising executions and product profiles.
We have seen an increased demand for product placements co-ordinated via online research. SMS have recently conducted a number of large-scale product placements across the UK. We are able to re-package test products and distribute these via our dedicated packaging a distribution centre. Respondents were recruited online and test products were then mailed to the respondents. Following the defined usage period the respondents were then invited to access the online recall questionnaire for completion.
SMS has found that in designing online projects there are certain factors to be aware of. As an online survey requires respondent self-completion, the survey needs to be sufficiently obvious for even the least computer literate people to be able to point, click and type their way through it without encountering any problems. SMS therefore ensures the suitable design and smooth running of online surveys, utilising the expertise of our team to deliver an accessible and stimulating survey experience.
Respondent fatigue can be an issue with this methodology with the danger that the respondents will not complete the survey. As a general rule SMS advises that a survey should take no longer than half an hour to complete. SMS focuses on continuing respondent engagement and thus the minimising of drop out rates.
Open questions in search of a more detailed response are also best avoided. One or two per survey can work but only when the questions are engaging. This type of question works best when helped along by a professional interviewer in a face-to-face environment, as utilised by SMS in other quantitative methodologies.
There are also technical issues to consider like programming and survey set-up, SMS employs a QA procedure that ensures our surveys are of the highest quality and consistent with our client's expectations.
Currently around 65-70% of quantitative research undertaken in the USA is via online research and we can expect the trend to follow this in the UK (current estimates are around 25 to 35% of all quantitative projects) While there will always be specific applications where telephone and structured face-to-face surveys are the more suitable methodologies it is surely only a matter of time before the internet becomes the dominant methodology.