Picking the Right Research Method

One of the most important choices in any research project is the methodology used to collect data. Every method has its strengths and weaknesses, and they are sometimes used together in a project.

Let's look at two of the most popular choices, surveys and focus groups. Surveys are composed of a series of questions used to gather opinions, thoughts, and feelings from a sample of the population. They are conducted over the phone, via email, and online. Focus groups are a gathering of 10-12 people who are asked about their perceptions and opinions during a session led by a trained moderator.

SURVEYS:

  • Quantitative—data is gathered using a quantitative (numerical) process.
  • Gathered from a statistically valid sample of your target market/population.
  • Help you identify trends, measure awareness, gauge satisfaction, and overall interest.
  • Are often used for benchmarking.
  • Can be conducted in-person, online, over the phone and by mail.

FOCUS GROUPS:

  • Qualitative—data is gathered using qualities or characteristics.
  • Good for in-depth questions.
  • Help you obtain information about motivations, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
  • Allow you to easily test images, concepts, and campaigns.
  • Are most often conducted in-person.

Some projects require a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data in order to comprehensively meet your goals. Choosing the right method can mean success or failure, so choose wisely.

Debra Power

Power Marketing Research, 804 Phoenix Drive, Ann Arbor, MI, 48108