Market researchers use a variety of methods to gather data. Each has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of effectiveness, cost, reliability and expedience.
Here’s a rundown of various research methods and their pros and cons. The information is derived from the Web site of market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch:
Telephone surveys Telephone surveys can ensure qualified respondents, allow the researcher to probe the respondent, provide good response rates and allow the researcher to gather and quantify the information quickly. On the down side, they can be moderately expensive.
In-person surveys Like telephone surveys, these can ensure that the respondents are qualified and interviewers can delve deeply into the attitudes and opinions of those being questioned. They also enjoy good response rates and active respondent involvement. The disadvantages are that interviewer bias can skew the results, turnaround time is slower and they are expensive.
Internet surveys These kinds of surveys are inexpensive and eliminate interviewer bias. The problems are that they don’t ensure qualified respondents and they can produce biased respondent demographics. Also there’s no opportunity to probe for more information.
Mail surveys As with Internet surveys, mail surveys prevent interviewer bias and are usually low in cost. However, they don’t ensure that the respondents are qualified or offer the ability to probe for more information. Response rates and turnaround time are often poor. How to reach: Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch, www.intersearchcorp.com