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Consumer surveys are statistical surveys focusing on the measurement of aspects of [[consumer behavior, consumer attitudes etc.

Surveys can be conducted using a number of different mehtods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

Survey methods

There are several ways of administering a survey, including:

Telephone surveys

    • use of interviewers encourages sample persons to respond, leading to higher response rates.[1]
    • interviewers can increase comprehension of questions by answering respondents' questions.
    • fairly cost efficient, depending on local call charge structure
    • good for large national (or international) sampling frames
    • cannot be used for non-audio information (graphics, demonstrations, taste/smell samples)
    • three types:
      • traditional telephone interviews
      • computer assisted telephone dialing
      • computer assisted telephone interviewing
  • Mail
    • response rate 5% - 30%[How to reference and link to summary or text]
    • the questionnaire may be handed to the respondents or mailed to them, but in all cases they are returned to the researcher via mail.
    • cost is very low, since bulk postage is cheap in most countries
    • long time delays, often several months, before the surveys are returned and statistical analysis can begin
    • not suitable for very complex issues
    • no interviewer bias introduced
    • large amount of information can be obtained: some mail surveys are as long as 50 pages
    • response rates can be improved by using mail panels
      • members of the panel have agreed to participate
      • panels can be used in longitudinal designs where the same respondents are surveyed several times

Online surveys

    • can use web or e-mail
      • web is preferred over e-mail because interactive HTML forms can be used
    • response rates sometimes 90% before 2000, but have been dropping fast since then (now 2% - 30%)
    • often inexpensive to administer
    • very fast results
    • easy to modify
    • response rates can be improved by using Online panels - members of the panel have agreed to participate
    • if not password-protected, easy to manipulate by completing multiple times to skew results
    • data creation, manipulation and reporting can be automated
    • data sets created in real time
    • some are incentive based
  • Personal in-home survey
    • respondents are interviewed in person, in their homes (or at the front door)
    • very high cost
    • response rate 40% - 50%[How to reference and link to summary or text]
    • suitable when graphic representations, smells, or demonstrations are involved
    • suitable for long surveys
    • suitable for locations where telephone or mail are not developed
  • Personal mall intercept survey
    • shoppers at malls are intercepted - they are either interviewed on the spot, taken to a room and interviewed, or taken to a room and given a self-administered questionnaire
    • response rate about 50%[How to reference and link to summary or text]
    • socially acceptable - people feel that a mall is a more appropriate place to do research than their home
    • potential for interviewer bias
    • fast
    • easy to manipulate by completing multiple times to skew results
  • Methods used to increase response rates
    • brevity - single page if possible
    • financial incentives
      • paid in advance
      • paid at completion
    • non-monetary incentives
      • commodity giveaways (pens, notepads)
      • entry into a lottery, draw or contest
      • discount coupons
      • promise of contribution to charity
    • preliminary notification
    • foot-in-the-door techniques - start with a small inconsequential request
    • personalization of the request - address specific individuals
    • follow-up requests - multiple requests
    • claimed affiliation with universities, research institutions, or charities
    • emotional appeals
    • bids for sympathy
    • convince respondent that they can make a difference
    • guarantee anonymity


Surveys are conducted for a number of reasons associated with advertising, customer satisfaction,customer relationship management, marketing etc

See also


  1. Groves, R.M. (1989) Survey Costs and Survey Errors. New York: Wiley.