I’m Told I Have No Opinion

Marketing Research Association

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I love Merrell shoes. The sole is like walking on sponges and the designs is really cool. I love Kitchenaid appliances because they look good, they are sturdy, and baking is so much easier. I love Tall Girl clothing because the pants are just the right length and the price is right if you get the sales. I could bore you profusely about even more merits and downfalls of each but unfortunately, I am not permitted to have an opinion of them.

You’ve seen those screener questions. “Do you or any member of your household work in the marketing research industry?” Why is this question so important? Why can’t I answer the survey if I do work in the industry?

Perhaps I am going to steal confidential questions.
Perhaps I am going to try to skew data because I have a competitive client.
Perhaps my opinions will be biased because I understand the purposes of the questions.

Well first, various research codes say I must behave ethically which means no stealing and no biasing.
Second, as I rush through the survey like everyone else who is disgusted with low quality questions and bored with ridiculous questions, I am certainly not paying any more attention to the purposes of the questions than anyone else.
And third, why aren’t my opinions valid? Doesn’t Merrel and Kitchenaid and Tall Girl want to know what one of their most loyal customers thinks? Even worse, since my spouse lives in the same household as someone who works in the marketing research industry, why aren’t his opinions valid? He’s never even heard of a likert scale and would probably stab himself in the heart if I tried to explain it to him.

Besides, if I truly am going to lie and cheat and bias answers, why would I ever confess that I work in market research so please don’t show me your survey?

And if you’re curious, I DO answer competitive surveys (just like you do). My rule is answer every question, except the screener, completely honestly or don’t finish the survey. Just how I’d want to be treated.


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7 responses

  1. The use of an MR screener has become mostly obsolete. MR professionals know exactly what the question is seeking to do and will always answer just to get past the question anyway. It gets a little trickier with other professions/industries. Questionnaire designers should move toward a more specific screener finds other ways of screening out respondents that may introduce bias. In reality, MR professionals probably provide more thoughtful and meaningful responses to questions that result in better data.

    1. I wish it was obsolete but i know that many, many still use screeners. too bad.

  2. Finally, sweet jeebus, some very much needed common sense! MR-ers are people too! Oh, and the same goes for people working in journalism and PR, and if the survey is about, say, toothpaste, then you can’t answer if you’re working a “manufacturer/processor/wholesaler/distributor of health&beauty aids”. So if I work as a an accountant for a company that sells stuff to retailers does that mean that I cannot answer your stupid survey because I am somehow biased towards toothpaste and not able to be “objective” in my opinion? What are the theoretical assumptions behind these questions anyway??

  3. I am always been very grateful for those screener questions as it allows me to evade phoners without feeling rude!

    1. Are you saying you hate answering surveys or that you’d bias surveys or that you don’t have time to answer surveys? 🙂

  4. I usually take the phone surveys when they call (except the blatantly biased political calls masquerading as surveys), much to the annoyance of my spouse.

    Why? I work for an analytical software company (SAS). Even though I don’t know whether the calling research company will use my product to analyze their data, they might. I figure it’s good karma to help the nice folks do their job, since they help me, indirectly, to do mine.

    Chris @ SAS

    1. Researchers love you! 🙂

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