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Common – Yet Fatal – Mistakes When Interviewing Market Research Participants

Midsection of a businessman shaking hands with a female interviewer in office-582472-edited.jpeg

Common – Yet Fatal – Mistakes When Interviewing Market Research Participants

market research participantsOne of the biggest challenges that businesses face when they conduct market research, is that participants do not, well, participate as well as they should. As a result, the information and insights gleaned from the effort are biased and unreliable, and can lead to some remarkably bad decision making. Indeed, there are numerous examples of “can’t miss” and “sure fire” products and services that, alas, both missed and misfired because the market research that businesses relied on were riddled with low quality data.

Of course, this does not suggest that market research participants are deliberately deceitful, or have something against businesses that are trying to solicit their opinions. Most often, the root problem is the interview is not handled with the requisite expertise. Here are some common – yet fatal – mistakes that indicate the information gleaned is not intelligent, reliable or actionable:

1. Market research participants try and give the “right” answer.

Most participants are reasonably friendly, and prefer harmonious and agreeable conversations to those that are stressful and confrontational. As such, both consciously and subconsciously, they can attempt to provide the “right” answer to each question. And what is the correct response? In their view, it is the one that the interviewer wants to hear! This is especially a risk when an incentive is at stake.

2. In an attempt to build rapport, the interview gets too personal.

Skilled interviewers know how to build rapport and establish a foundation of trust that is the basis of the conversation. After all, if market research participants are afraid or feel vulnerable, they cannot provide accurate responses.

Yet untrained and inexperienced interviewers often go too far in terms of building rapport, and lose sight of the fact that they – and not the participant – must firmly remain in charge of the engagement, and lead it accordingly. Finding the balance between formal and informal, and between control and empowerment, is what separates pros from amateurs.

3. Market research participants lie – but without meaning to.

Untrained interviewers (i.e. those that do not specialize in it) can ask leading questions that engineer certain responses. Or, just as often – and yet harder to detect – they ask questions in a certain order that leads to inherently biased responses, or their questions have multiple points of entry. The result is that market research participants give answers that “feel like the truth at the time,” but are nevertheless not the full or accurate story.

For example, if you ask “did you like Product A better than Product B?”, that can be seen as a leading question as the participant might assume that you want them to say Product A was indeed better. By phrasing the question as “which product did you prefer?”, you are leaving the direction of the answer up to the participant.

Learn More

At Communications For Research, our in-house expert interviewers know how to structure surveys so that they are free of bias, generate valid responses, and at the same time engage market research respondents in a manner they find agreeable and enjoyable. It is both an art and a science, and we have been leading the way for more than a decade.

To learn more, contact us today and schedule a time to speak with our co-CEO Colson Steber. With over 15 years of experience, Colson can pinpoint your market research opportunity and give you a quote based on your timeline and budget.

For more information on the value of market research and how to communicate it to your clients, download our FREE eBook:

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