Market research is a cornerstone of success for any business, but sometimes the data gathered from market research studies can be misleading.
Whether due to shoddy planning, faulty methodology, human error, or outright deceit, there are many ways to end up with inaccurate study results. If your analysis relies solely on data from a single source, you’re putting your business at risk.
That’s why it’s important to conduct all your market research with a healthy amount of skepticism. Here are 10 examples of how research studies can go wrong:
|Approach research findings critically.|
|Verify data sources and research methodologies.|
|Consider potential biases and limitations.|
|Question assumptions and conclusions.|
|Strive for well-rounded and validated insights.|
|Balancing trust and skepticism leads to informed decisions.|
The Research Wasn’t Conducted Properly
The quality of market research is directly related to the quality of the research itself. Proper market research requires a good plan, good data collection and good analysis.
A good plan starts with a clear definition of the problem, a good understanding of your target audience and a thorough understanding of the process for gathering data.
A proper data collection process includes:
- Good sampling methods (that is, collecting representative responses from your target audience)
- Good questionnaire design (that is, creating questions that are simple enough for respondents to understand)
- Good response rates (getting as many people as possible to answer each question)
Discovering the top rules of marketing research is crucial for success. Don’t overlook the importance of prioritizing your next marketing research effort to make the most of your resources and achieve actionable insights.
The Sample Size Was Too Small
The sample size should be large enough to ensure the results are representative of the entire population.
You want to know that the information you get from your research is accurate, so you must select a sample big enough for your study to be representative of everyone in your area or demographic group.
If you choose fewer people than necessary, there may not be enough data points (e.g., average height) for each person in the population, which can make it harder for you to draw any conclusions about them as a whole group because they’re too diverse.
In order to ensure that this isn’t happening in your study, never choose more than 10% more people than will actually participate which means if only 10% of those eligible are going to take part in the survey then pick less than 110 people out at random (since 110 divided by 100 is 1).
Why did this happen?: It’s possible that someone else has already done research on this topic and found similar results!
The Responses Came From The Wrong People
It’s easy to forget that, in research studies and surveys, there is a certain amount of human error. The wrong people may have been asked the wrong questions.
The right people may have been asked the right questions at the wrong time. Or, even worse: The right people may have been asked the right questions at the right time!
This is why it’s important that you remain skeptical of your findings and take steps to confirm any trends or patterns discovered in your research study or survey even if they appear obvious or intuitively true.
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The Way The Question Was Asked Influenced Or Even Biased The Answers
If a question is worded in a certain way, you can bet that people will answer it in the same way. This is especially true if they’ve been asked questions like this before. You may want to find out how much people make on average, or how many hours they work per week.
But when you ask them their salary or hours worked per week, respectively, you’re setting up what’s called a “laboratory” experiment.
This means that your results have less credibility than if you had asked them an open-ended question about their income and work schedule (i.e., “How much do you make?” versus “How much do you earn?”).
The Question Shouldn’t Have Been Asked In The First Place
The first step in making sense of a problem is to establish a baseline. What’s the data you have? What questions can be answered by that data?
When conducting market research studies, it’s common to run into problems with the questions being asked. The reason for this is that either:
- Your question was too vague and didn’t ask anything specific enough (or)
- Your question was too specific and didn’t leave room for other possibilities or interpretations (or)
- Your question was open-ended and gave respondents too much leeway in what they could answer (or)
- Your question was closed-ended and didn’t give respondents any room for interpretation at all (or) *Your survey was conducted online rather than offline through personal interaction with people on their own turf
The Study Goals Were Unclear And Ill-Defined From The Start
Before you start a study, you need to determine what your goals are. This is an important step that can have a huge impact on the outcome of your research.
If you don’t know what your goals are, then there’s no way for you to measure whether or not those goals were met or even if it was worth doing the research in the first place!
The good news is that setting clear and measurable goals from the start is something anyone can do. It just takes some practice and planning. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Make sure your individual studies have specific, concrete objectives (more on this in Step 2).
- Write down all of these objectives in one place so they don’t get lost amidst everything else going on in a busy day (more on this in Step 3).
- Think broadly about why these objectives matter not just as part of this particular study but also within broader organizational/industry context (more on this in Steps 7 & 8).
Uncover hidden gems in the world of marketing research tools. Learn about the top 10 most powerful marketing research tools you haven’t heard of that can enhance your data collection and analysis capabilities.
A Truly Random Sampling Of People Was Impossible Because Of The Logistics Involved
When a market researcher has to select a sample of people or businesses to survey, they have to be sure that their choices are truly random.
This means that the selection process is unbiased, and the end result will represent all segments in the population equally.
If your survey doesn’t include enough responses from each group, then it won’t reflect overall consumer opinion on an issue as accurately as it could.
This can happen for several reasons:
- The number of respondents was too small (a low response rate)
- A bias was introduced during data collection (respondents were not properly selected by chance)
- The intended audience was not correctly identified (the wrong questions were asked)
There May Be Too Many Variables For People To Control For When Collecting Data
It can be difficult to collect and analyze data in a way that controls for all the factors that could affect your research.
For example, if you’re trying to measure how people react to a new product at different price points and stores, it might be hard to know exactly what store they were in when they bought the product or how much they paid.
This is because there are so many variables that can affect someone’s behavior and perceptions of products the amount spent on groceries before going into a store may impact their willingness to buy something new;
What kind of mood they’re in when they shop might also matter; where they parked in the parking lot could impact how long it takes them to get inside; whether or not there was traffic on the way can influence their level of stress…and so on!
People May Have Been Too Embarrassed To Give An Accurate Response
While it’s important to always be skeptical, it’s equally important not to take a single study as gospel. In this case, there are three main things that might have caused the results of your market research study to seem inaccurate:
People may have been too embarrassed to give an accurate response because they didn’t know the answer.
This could be particularly true if you asked them questions about their personal experience with your products.
Or services and then compared those answers with their perceptions of those same experiences based on other people’s opinions (as opposed to asking them how much they enjoy themselves when using your product).
People may have been too embarrassed to give an accurate response because they didn’t want to admit that they don’t know something about your product or service because then maybe it’s not as good as everyone else says it is!
You can prevent this from happening by making sure all of your questions are phrased in a way that lets respondents feel comfortable answering honestly without feeling embarrassed by saying something wrong or admitting their ignorance on the topic at hand (e.g., “What do you think?” versus “What do people think?”).
Skepticism is a valuable approach in the world of market research. Delve into these 13 things that I learned while conducting my marketing research to gain insights from real-world experiences and develop a critical mindset.
Humans Can Only Answer Questions About Their Conscious Minds, Not Their Subconscious Minds
As you conduct your market research studies, remember that people are not always honest. They may not be aware of their own biases and motivations. They may not be aware of their own intentions and wants. They may not even be aware of their own needs!
And while this is bad news for most marketing departments, it’s great news for you. If you’re doing your job right as a market researcher, you’ll know when people aren’t being fully honest in their answers.
And that can lead to all kinds of insights into what’s really going on in the minds (and wallets) of consumers.
Prioritizing and deciding on the right research methods is essential. Get practical guidance on how to interpret marketing research for startups, tech companies, and businesses to make informed choices and extract meaningful insights from your data.
So if you want to get a good idea of what someone is thinking, you need to ask the right questions in the right way, and then be prepared to dig deeper into the actual answers. We all have subconscious biases that we don’t know about until we’re forced to confront them.
The only way to uncover those biases is by approaching your research with an open mind and a healthy amount of skepticism.
ACR – Enhancing the Validity and Credibility of Marketing Research: This article explores techniques to improve the validity and credibility of marketing research, ensuring more reliable insights.
Countering Scepticism of Market Research: Discover strategies for addressing skepticism in market research, helping you gain trust and cooperation from participants.
FAO – Conducting Market Surveys and Understanding the Data: This resource provides insights into conducting effective market surveys and interpreting the gathered data for informed decision-making.
And now, here’s the “FAQs” section based on the semantic of the TITLE:
How do I enhance the credibility of my marketing research?
Enhancing credibility involves meticulous methodology, transparent reporting, and minimizing biases in your research process.
What can I do to address skepticism in market research?
To counter skepticism, establish transparency in your research objectives, methodologies, and communicate the benefits of participation.
How can I effectively conduct market surveys?
Effective market surveys require careful questionnaire design, a representative sample, and thoughtful analysis of collected data.
What strategies can I use to interpret market research data?
Interpreting data involves identifying trends, patterns, and correlations, while considering the broader context and business goals.
How can I ensure the validity of my marketing research findings?
Ensuring validity entails using appropriate research designs, validation techniques, and rigorous data collection methods to support your conclusions.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.