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MRA welcomes and appreciates coverage from members of the media. Requests to cover MRA events must be event-specific and may be obtained by submitting a request on official letterhead of the news outlet. Please include an outline of proposed coverage, the names and duties of those assigned to the event, and the signature of the editor/director. Please also provide a phone number, fax number and address.

Media Contact:

Amy Shields
Director of Research
1156 15th Street NW, Suite 302
Washington, DC 20005
202.800.2545
amy.shields@marketingresearch.org

 


What is Marketing Research?

WHO uses research?
In addition to business manufacturers of consumer and industrial goods, users of marketing and opinion research reside in government agencies, political parties, hospitals, non-profit and religious groups, academia, the legal profession, and the media.

WHAT is the nature of research?
Marketing research functions in two ways. It identifies key characteristics and attributes of a product or service through individual interviews or group discussions (qualitative research) and it analyzes these attributes by statistical analysis of answers given in a structured set of questions such as a survey or questionnaire (quantitative research). The specific research problem determines whether to employ one or both modes.

WHERE is research implemented?
Marketing research takes place in many modes and in many places: Personal interviews, surveys within stores or other venues, focus groups at research facilities, surveys executed by telephonemail, or online in panels; all are valid venues depending upon the research design and goals.

WHY do research?
Research has always played a crucial role in the products, programs, social service programs, and laws that affect our daily lives that we all use. Companies are very responsive to what they learn from research and products are changed to meet the needs of the American public.

HOW is research executed?
Marketing researchers adhere to a systematic and objective process to identify problems, collect and analyze appropriate data and present conclusions. Researchers belonging to professional organizations adhere to guidelines such as MRA's Code of Marketing Research Standards and Bylaws, which governs acceptable interview practices and all members must abide by the Code. MRA members will never ask leading questions or try to sell products or services to respondents

 


What is Quantitative Research?

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.

 


What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a methodology of marketing research that provides an in-depth understanding about consumer behavior. It stands out from other types of research for its up close and personal approach. Observing individuals as they offer their opinions and discuss topics is typically very revealing. The results of qualitative research are exploratory, not statistically reliable. Qualitative research is an effective methodology of marketing research because of its unique ability to elicit real responses as well to provide cues through body language and, in some cases, respondent interaction.

When is qualitative used?
Qualitative research is used to understand the feelings and perceptions behind consumer behavior; discover the market’s (not always consumers) likes and dislikes; identify strengths and weaknesses in products; learn where a product line may be expanded; develop hypotheses; and understand vivid descriptions that consumers use to discuss products and topics.

What are the types of qualitative research? 
Qualitative research is conducted in a myriad of ways. Click the links below to get more information about the different forms of qualitative research

Who conducts qualitative research?
A trained professional, usually called the consultant, or moderator, is the interviewer of a focus group or in-depth interview. The consultant can make or break a focus group or interview and for this reason should adhere to the industry’s best practices. The consultant must use techniques to establish a friendly and comfortable relationship with the respondents so that they feel at ease voicing their opinions and feelings.

For more information about qualitative research, contact MRA at 202.800.2545, or info@marketingresearch.org

Did you know?
Qualitative research was discovered by sociologists during the World War II era who were given the task of testing viewer reactions to military propaganda films. The sociologists found that with proper prodding and the right questions asked, their group pf trial respondents could identify which parts of the film made them feel a certain way and why.

This concept was soon the driving force behind the successful sales of war bonds during this time. Marketers immediately picked up on this new trend and by the 1950’s, consumers were being researched in this “holistic” manner to help develop and sell products like food, automobiles and beauty products to name a few.

 


What are Public Opinion Surveys?

Public opinion polls or surveys assess public opinion. It is a form of opinion research designed to measure people’s thoughts and feelings on important social and political issues that affect everyday life. Just as marketing research aims to understand consumer attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; public opinion polls explore society’s feelings towards public issues.

What are some of the characteristics of public opinion polls?

  • Assess widespread public opinion
  • Give broadly applicable results (respondents provide a composite view of the larger population)
  • Use many of the same techniques that are used in marketing research
  • Subject matter leans toward social or political (public) topics
  • Are conducted in short time-frames due to the dynamic nature of society

Why are public opinion surveys important?
Public opinion surveys are important because they inform policy-makers, political candidates, the media, and society (itself) of the public’s perceptions and behaviors towards broad ranging issues. They may be used by governments in order to understand the effectiveness of policy and programs, by politicians to understand their constituent’s perspectives, by academic researchers in order to understand society, or by members of the public who consume polls performed by media outlets.

Media coverage places public opinion polling as one of the most recognizable representatives of the public on behalf of the survey research profession. This is particularly true in election years. They are widely available to radio, television, internet, and newspaper audiences.

Another benefit public opinion polling gives to respondents is that is allows them to participate in the political process. Respondents recognize that they can voice their opinions about public policy and will have an influence on government and public discourse.

How are participants selected in public opinion surveys?
Random sampling most commonly involves a polling organization using a list of randomly-generated telephone numbers. These people are contacted and requested to participate in the survey.

Quota sampling involves setting quotas – for example, of age and gender – and seeking out those people who, together, match those characteristics. Quota polls are frequently used by internet-based pollsters who use quota samples to select representative samples from a database of people who have already provided information about themselves.

What is “push polling”?
Political telemarketing, or "push polling," is not public opinion research. It is a telemarketing technique conducted under the guise of a legitimate opinion poll. Such calls are placed by individuals or organizations interested in influencing the outcome of a public election. They can contain derogatory and damaging statements about a candidate and are specifically designed to "push" a voter away from one candidate and toward another.

How Is This Practice Different From Legitimate Polls and Surveys?

  • The purpose of a legitimate poll or survey is to obtain opinions; the goal of political telemarketing is to "push" votes away from one particular candidate and toward another.
  • Legitimate polling firms disclose the true name of the firm or the research company conducting the interview; political telemarketers often do not disclose their name or they provide false names.
  • Legitimate polls usually are longer in duration, at least five minutes in length, and consist of many questions; political telemarketing calls are often limited to between thirty to sixty seconds and typically ask one or two questions.
  • Legitimate polls only interview a scientifically-drawn small sample of voters. Push polls contact many thousands of voters with the goal of swaying—not measuring—voter opinion.
  • Legitimate polls and surveys capture information from respondents in an effort to determine the public's opinion on a certain issue or candidate. Conversely, political telemarketing is a technique designed solely to influence potential voters.

Examples:
A public opinion survey of 1,450 Chicago residents found that public attitudes about transit are not only a function of services received but are strongly affected by people’s feelings about crime, government in general, public civility, and the neighborhoods where a trip begins or ends.

The city of Santa Barbara, California, used a public opinion survey to gauge public awareness of the causes and consequences of storm water pollution and the willingness to reduce pollution-causing behavior. This provided a foundation of information to launch its Storm Water Management Program in 2006.

 


What is Online Research?

Online research is the administering of a research survey via the internet or in email form. A rapidly growing form of marketing and opinion research that is newly-evolving and becoming more and more popular as new technologies make it faster and easier to get consumer opinions.

What are the characteristics of online research?
The use of internet research has grown massively over the last few years due to the increasing popularity and expansion of the internet for both business and personal use. Online research can be both qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative internet research can be performed as a web-survey where the respondents reply to questionnaire-based emails. This means that with the click of a mouse, the results are back in the inbox of the researcher ready for analysis. Qualitative research can be carried out in a variety of methods including setting up group forums on the internet, or by setting up group discussions using web-cams, thus mimicking the conventional group-discussion format. Qualitative research is also being conducted using blogs, and/or an instant message type system to communicate with respondents, to name a few.

What are the benefits of using online research?

  • Online survey studies usually have a faster turnaround than most traditional surveys—meaning information can be collected, tabulated, and disseminated at a faster rate than most traditional surveys.
  • Online surveys are the least expensive format of research—reduced cost comes from needing less staff, tabulation software, etc.
  • Complicated research can be conducted online with “help menus” that can assist respondents through the survey. Also visual aids can be included as part of the process
  • Online surveys are more respondent friendly—meaning they are more convenient for respondents, who can participate in the survey on their own time, complex questions are easier to handle, preserves respondent anonymity (individuals are more likely to answer questions honestly—particularly good for highly sensitive topics), for quantitative studies, the chance for interviewer error is eliminated
  • Online surveys is an easier recruiting method: most panels include respondents who have opted-in and are willing to receive e-mail invites to participate in online surveys
  • Online surveys provide a broad range of geographical coverage

Facts and Figures
According to a 2005 study conducted jointly by Cambiar and GMI:

  • 90% of major corporations will be doing online research this year (2007)
  • 61% of small corporations will be doing online research this year
  • 86% of research companies will be doing online research this year
  • The global online research market will equal $3.8 billion this year

According to the latest ESOMAR global industry trends survey, the number of online research studies increased 80% in 2005. Online research now accounts for 20% of the total data collection expenditure worldwide.

Online Interviewing
Online interviewing continues to evolve as perhaps the most dynamic form of data collection. Technological evolution, meanwhile, is rapidly expanding broadband access to the home, enabling more sophisticated online testing techniques supported by multimedia presentation and increased interactivity. The improvements in speed and usability allow for much more complex programming of questionnaires, incorporating fuzzy logic, skip patterns, and testing techniques that can go far beyond traditional monadic testing (i.e., testing one concept at a time) to include paired comparisons (testing two or more products sequentially or simultaneously), repeated pairs (differences in preferences of paired concepts) and triangulated comparisons (to determine uniqueness of a concept when compared to two other concepts, similar to one another but unlike the concept under investigation).

Online interviewing also offers numerous options for getting potential respondents to the questionnaire, including e-mail contact, pop-ups, direct links from other sites, and even off-line approaches such as mailings and telephone contacts.

Favored for its ability to collect large amounts of data quickly, online interviewing may not necessarily be faster than other methods because it can take some time to get the right number of the right kind of respondents to participate. Nevertheless, savings on such mundane details as printing and postage often balance the overall cost/benefit ratio in the long run.

Online Panels—Qualitative Research link 
Because they consist of existing, prescreened groups who are homogeneous on a range of characteristics, online panels can accelerate the screening process for an online marketing research study. And because they persist over time, extended studies can be conducted. Panel members are, by definition, predisposed toward completing questionnaires thoroughly and honestly, providing quality data. They tend to have significantly more knowledge about the topics that form the basis of their panels than the general population and offer a ready-made pool of likely respondents.

Some advantages include:

Quality/reliability of information: perceived anonymity afforded by an online discussion increases respondent’s willingness to be more frank in discussions. Furthermore, respondents who may by nature be intimidated or reserved in face-to-face group are much more likely to speak up when they are not directly in contact with other respondents. Online panels allows respondents to take their time in considering their responses to questions, and to other respondents’ comments. This differs from in-person focus groups, in which the conversation can move on before some respondents have had the opportunity to express their views, and in which dominant members of the group can more easily influence their colleagues.

Better spread of respondents: Online panels provide the ability to assemble respondents in different geographical locations. This means that there is a new opportunity to bring respondents with a similar interest together in markets with a sparsely spread audience.

Convenience to respondents: Respondents can dip in and out of an online conversation at their convenience, returning to issues of interest as extra comments are added. In face to face focus groups, clearly all respondents must be gathered in the same place at the same time and for the same length of time.

Online research is the administering of a research survey via the internet or in email form. A rapidly growing form of marketing and opinion research that is newly-evolving and becoming more and more popular as new technologies make it faster and easier to get consumer opinions.

What are the characteristics of online research?
The use of internet research has grown massively over the last few years due to the increasing popularity and expansion of the internet for both business and personal use. Online research can be both qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative internet research can be performed as a web-survey where the respondents reply to questionnaire-based emails. This means that with the click of a mouse, the results are back in the inbox of the researcher ready for analysis. Qualitative research can be carried out in a variety of methods including setting up group forums on the internet, or by setting up group discussions using web-cams, thus mimicking the conventional group-discussion format. Qualitative research is also being conducted using blogs, and/or an instant message type system to communicate with respondents, to name a few.

What are the benefits of using online research?

  • Online survey studies usually have a faster turnaround than most traditional surveys—meaning information can be collected, tabulated, and disseminated at a faster rate than most traditional surveys.
  • Online surveys are the least expensive format of research—reduced cost comes from needing less staff, tabulation software, etc.
  • Complicated research can be conducted online with “help menus” that can assist respondents through the survey. Also visual aids can be included as part of the process
  • Online surveys are more respondent friendly—meaning they are more convenient for respondents, who can participate in the survey on their own time, complex questions are easier to handle, preserves respondent anonymity (individuals are more likely to answer questions honestly—particularly good for highly sensitive topics), for quantitative studies, the chance for interviewer error is eliminated
  • Online surveys is an easier recruiting method: most panels include respondents who have opted-in and are willing to receive e-mail invites to participate in online surveys
  • Online surveys provide a broad range of geographical coverage

Facts and Figures
According to a 2005 study conducted jointly by Cambiar and GMI:

  • 90% of major corporations will be doing online research this year (2007)
  • 61% of small corporations will be doing online research this year
  • 86% of research companies will be doing online research this year
  • The global online research market will equal $3.8 billion this year

According to the latest ESOMAR global industry trends survey, the number of online research studies increased 80% in 2005. Online research now accounts for 20% of the total data collection expenditure worldwide.

Online Interviewing
Online interviewing continues to evolve as perhaps the most dynamic form of data collection. Technological evolution, meanwhile, is rapidly expanding broadband access to the home, enabling more sophisticated online testing techniques supported by multimedia presentation and increased interactivity. The improvements in speed and usability allow for much more complex programming of questionnaires, incorporating fuzzy logic, skip patterns, and testing techniques that can go far beyond traditional monadic testing (i.e., testing one concept at a time) to include paired comparisons (testing two or more products sequentially or simultaneously), repeated pairs (differences in preferences of paired concepts) and triangulated comparisons (to determine uniqueness of a concept when compared to two other concepts, similar to one another but unlike the concept under investigation).

Online interviewing also offers numerous options for getting potential respondents to the questionnaire, including e-mail contact, pop-ups, direct links from other sites, and even off-line approaches such as mailings and telephone contacts.

Favored for its ability to collect large amounts of data quickly, online interviewing may not necessarily be faster than other methods because it can take some time to get the right number of the right kind of respondents to participate. Nevertheless, savings on such mundane details as printing and postage often balance the overall cost/benefit ratio in the long run.

Online Panels—Qualitative Research link 
Because they consist of existing, prescreened groups who are homogeneous on a range of characteristics, online panels can accelerate the screening process for an online marketing research study. And because they persist over time, extended studies can be conducted. Panel members are, by definition, predisposed toward completing questionnaires thoroughly and honestly, providing quality data. They tend to have significantly more knowledge about the topics that form the basis of their panels than the general population and offer a ready-made pool of likely respondents.

Did you know?
Both qualitative and quantitative research can be conducted online. There are several approaches used to conduct online qualitative research, including positing questions on message or bulletin boards and conducting online "chat" groups. For quantitative research (where a large number of respondents is often necessary), or for longer or more complex surveys, a traditional online survey approach is more suitable.

Analysts cite online focus groups as a particularly exciting development for small business owners with limited resources. Business Week noted that traditional focus group research can take several months and a great deal of expense (as much as $100,000) to complete. But growing numbers of marketing research firms offer online focus group research services for less than $5,000 a session, the results of which can be studied and tabulated within a matter of weeks. Still, not all business ventures are equally suited to pursue this electronic alternative.

"If your customers aren't tech-savvy, or if your product relies heavily on touch and tast, you may be wiser to foot the bill for a traditional group," counseled Business Week. "But if all you require is a quick glimpse into your customers' minds, an online group could be the way to go.

 


What are some Challenges to the Marketing Research Industry?

What is research abuse?
Research abuse is the mistreatment of the research process or using it wrongly. Often times the research process is "abused" through ignorance, confusing marketing and opinion research with telemarketing or lumping it into the same category. Legitimate marketing research requires the cooperation of the general population, and of registered voters in our country. Typical abuses are:

  • Selling under the guise of research often referred to as "SUGGing"
  • Fundraising under the guise of research is often referred to as "FRUGGing"

SUGGING
The use of a marketing research survey as a guise to sell to the public. The misuse of the survey process compromises legitimate marketing and opinion research surveys conducted by professionals. It also causes distrust among the public and affects the reliability of all public opinion research. The government has legislation outlawing telemarketing calls selling under the guise of research.

FRUGGING
The use of an opinion poll to conduct fundraising defines frugging. Frugging has raised the distrust of the public to a point where they refuse to cooperate with researchers trying to obtain the opinions of any number of issues, including political campaign, and government: federal, state and local research. In a country inundated with telemarketing and direct mail fundraising it is more and more difficult for marketing and opinion researchers to get accurate data. Marketing and opinion researchers promise no selling, no request for contributions and confidentiality of personal information to respondents in return for their cooperation. Legitimate marketing and opinion researchers are only trying to obtain neutral and unbiased data. Fundraising under the guise of research obviously rejects this principle.

What are the differences between marketing survey/research and telemarketers?
Selling, in any form, is different than survey research. Whether conducted by telephone, by mail, by fax or via the internet, sales-related activities are not survey research. The purpose of a sales call, email, fax or mail solicitation is to encourage members of the public to purchase a good or service. Conversely, the purpose of research (in any form - via telephone, mail, in-person interview, door-to-door, mall or focus group) is to gather information and opinions from members of the public to measure public opinions of products and services or social and political issues. Sales or solicitation is not acceptable or permitted in legitimate and professionally conducted survey research. In fact, if a survey research company attempts to sell anything while conducting survey research, they would be in violation of applicable research industry Codes and Standards, and if conducted via telephone would violate federal law (the Telemarketing Sales Rule).

 


Respondent Cooperation and the Profession

Survey respondents are the lifeblood of the research industry. Research participants influence the type of products developed, the quality of customer service they receive and in some cases public and government policy. Through consumer involvement, survey research has made Americans’ lives easier and more enjoyable.

Researchers are truly concerned about maintaining goodwill with the public. Our priority includes maintaining respondent confidentiality, accurately reporting your opinions, and respecting respondents’ privacy, your time, and your right to decline.

To ensure that more respondent cooperation is always maintained and improved, Marketing Research Association actively endorses the Your Opinion Counts® (YOC) program, an initiative dedicated to ensuring the public voice by supporting the mutually beneficial relationship between the public and opinion research.

YOC is composed solely of legitimate survey and focus group research organizations and their clients. These organizations have pledged to maintain a high standard of respect for the public while conducting research that will impact products, services and government programs and policy--for the betterment of American society.

About “Your Opinion Counts” ®
The “Your Opinion Counts” program is a community of legitimate research organizations that have pledged to uphold industry standards as well as the “Respondent Bill of Rights.”

Anytime a respondent is contacted and hear the words “Your-Opinion-Counts” or see the YOC Seal, they will be assured that they have been selected to participate in a survey by an organization that will maintain their rights as a respondent, and will only use the information that you provide to them in order to improve products, services, or programs.

The “Your Opinion Counts” program is maintained by MRA, a nonprofit survey research association.

Researchers' Commitment to Maintaining Respondent Confidentiality 
Information obtained through survey research is provided to clients in aggregate without being individually identifiable. Researchers should never divulge your identity or individual answers unless you specifically give the researcher permission to do so.

Researchers' Commitment to Accurately Reporting Your Opinions 
Most research companies are members of one or more professional associations established for the research industry. These associations have developed Codes of Ethics, Standards and Best Practices to insure that the data collected are accurate and representative. Very specific scientific procedures and processes are used to collect the highest quality data with the least amount of intrusion on the consumer. Researcher's clients also depend on accurate data to make the best possible decisions on the products, services and policies that affect you.

Researcher's Commitment to Privacy 
The goal of the research industry is to strike a balance between the need for information to improve people's lives and protecting the privacy of the people who participate in research. Hence, interviewers should always identify themselves and state the reason for their call at the beginning of each survey. Research interviewers should be courteous and respect your time by calling back at a more convenient time if necessary. They should answer questions as completely as possible and politely honor a respondent’s decision not to participate in a particular research study if they choose so.

Respondent Bill of Rights 
Your participation in a legitimate public opinion research survey is very important to us, and we value the information you provide. Therefore, our relationship will be one of respect and consideration, based on the following practices:

  • Your privacy and the privacy of your answers will be respected and maintained.
  • Your name, address, phone number, personal information, or individual responses won't be disclosed to anyone outside the research project without your permission.
  • You will always be told the name of the person contacting you, the research organization's name and nature of the survey. You will not be sold anything, or asked for money, under the guise of research.
  • You will be contacted at reasonable times, but if the time is inconvenient, you may ask to be contacted at a more convenient time.
  • Your decision to participate in a study, answer specific questions, or discontinue your participation will be respected without question.
  • You will be informed in advance if an interview is to be recorded and of the intended use of the recording.
  • You are assured that the highest standards of professional conduct will be upheld in the collection and reporting of information you provide.

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