Market research surveys

A survey can be a useful tool to gather information about the market. They can be conducted:

  • online via website links, email and social media
  • by telephone
  • face-to-face
  • by mail

Surveys can be used to:

  • reach a specific audience
  • gain insight into your customer demographics
  • research a target market
  • identify any product or pricing opportunities
  • measure and test brand awareness

Undertaking your own survey

Undertaking your own survey involves several steps:

  1. Define your survey objectives
  2. Develop your survey questions
  3. Pilot the survey
  4. Undertake the survey
  5. Analyse the results

Define your survey objectives

Having a clear idea about why you are conducting the survey and what information you need to collect will help you design the survey.

For example, if you want to discover what people think of your brand you will need qualitative questions. However, if you want to measure the effect of a price increase on sales you may ask more quantitative questions.

Your survey objectives will also help determine the size and demographics of your sample group.

Develop the survey questions

For best results keep your survey simple and brief.

The most difficult part of the survey process is developing the questions. To avoid errors in the information you collect, your questions should:

  • use simple, familiar and non technical language
  • avoid abstract or vague concepts
  • be short and to the point
  • not lead the respondent to a particular answer
  • not ask more than one question at a time.

TIP: Try to avoid questions asking for personal information such as level of income. If they must be included offer an option such as ‘prefer not to respond’ so you do not deter people from completing the survey.

Survey questions can be ‘closed’ or ‘open’. Closed questions normally offer fixed answer options while open questions allow the respondent to answer using their own words.

Closed questions are easier to analyse, whereas answers to your open questions can vary significantly making it harder to identify trends.

The questions should be:

  • arranged in a logical order, starting with very general questions and becoming more specific
  • grouped together based on how they relate to one another

Demographic information should be collected at the end of the survey when the respondent is ‘warmed up’. These questions will help you to segment responses based on age, gender, location, education level, income etc.

Pilot the survey

It is useful to pilot your survey with a small sample group before distributing it to a wider audience. A pilot will identify whether the questions are appropriate and how the answers relate to your survey objective.

Correct any questions that may not be appropriate before distributing to your wider sample group.

Undertake the survey

There are several methods to conduct your survey including online, via telephone or face-to-face. The method you use usually depends on your budget and timeframe.

Regardless of the method used to distribute your survey you will need to ensure your sample size is sufficiently large enough to produce reliable results. A small sample size will have a greater risk of error and may produce misleading results.

As a general rule 100-200 respondents should be sufficient for a small area, 400-500 for the metropolitan area and 600-1000 for the whole of Western Australia. These sample sizes will provide reliable results.

You can survey smaller groups of people however you will not be able to statistically rely on the data.

You can engage market research companies to undertake the survey on your behalf or purchase direct marketing lists online.

Before purchasing direct marketing lists make sure that the lists comply with relevant spam and privacy legislation.

TIP: There are a number of free or low cost online survey tools available. These tools collate the survey responses and provide you with reports to help you analyse the data.

Analyse the results

It is critical to analyse the results of the survey against your initial objectives. For quantitative or numeric questions you can use graphs and tables to collate the information and segment data according to certain respondent characteristics.

Qualitative data is a bit harder to analyse. Comments should be sorted into categories or themes in order to identify trends.

You will be able to make some decisions as to further action required based on the results of your market research.

More information