What is the purpose of marketing research?

The primary objective of marketing research is to help clients obtain a better understanding of their customers or market segments so they can make informed business decisions.  Better decisions lead to faster growth, higher profits and reduced risk.


What are the typical applications of marketing research?

Marketing research is used to solve problems or identify opportunities.  Other applications include the generation, refinement and evaluation of potential marketing ideas.


Does ARI provide turnkey solutions?

Yes.  ARI helps you define problems, specify customized research designs, collect and analyze data and prepare a final written report with actionable recommendations.


When is marketing research warranted?

Marketing research should be undertaken when you want to clarify problems or investigate changes in the marketplace.  These situations are usually characterized by information gaps which represent the research objectives for your project.  To what extent do our customers want extended banking hours could be a research objective for a financial institution.


What is the difference between primary and secondary data?

Primary data is information gathered by a consultant specifically for the client’s project.  Secondary data has been gathered by someone else for some other purpose not defined by the research objective.  Survey results are a good example of primary data.  Almanacs, encyclopedias, references guides, online databases and professional directories are frequently used as secondary information resources.  Reports utilizing secondary information always include detailed bibliographies.





How does ARI protect the privacy of clients and respondents?

ARI protects the confidentially of anything learned about a client’s business as a result of access to strategic or sensitive information.  The identity of individual respondents is never revealed to clients or members of the public, unless a respondent requests such a disclosure.  Adherence to this business ethic enables clients and respondents to collaborate on projects in an environment of trust and anonymity.



Does ARI distribute unsolicited e-mail to recruit respondents for marketing surveys?

No.  ARI only contacts individuals when they have a reasonable expectation that they will receive e-mail contact for participation in market research.  The Council of American Survey Research Organizations states that such an agreement can be assumed when all of the following conditions exist: (1) A substantive pre-existing relationship exists between the individuals contacted and the research organization, the client or the list owners contracting the research,

(2) Individuals have a reasonable expectation, based on the pre-existing relationship, that they may be contacted for research,

(3) Individuals are offered the choice to be removed from future e-mail contact in each invitation and

(4) The invitation list excludes all individuals who have previously taken the appropriate and timely steps to request the list owner to remove them.


What are the advantages of online surveys?

Online surveys are fast, inexpensive, accessible and they can be customized to accommodate all of the standard question formats.  Online surveys also offer better response rates compared to conventional surveys sent through the mail.


How do you control multiple survey submissions by the same respondent?

Multiple survey submissions are controlled by the use of two different options which:

  • Allow only one response for each e-mail address or
  • Allow only one response for each user id or password or both


Does ARI develop conventional surveys which are distributed through the mail?

Yes.  These surveys still have their place for those respondents who do not have access to a computer or the Internet.


What incentives do you use to encourage survey participation?

ARI uses egotistic appeals which emphasize the importance of consumer participation which ultimately drives the development of better products and services.  Product discounts can also be offered at the discretion of the client.     




What should be the size of a focus group?

The optimal size of a focus group is 7-10 people. 


Who should be in our focus group?

The best focus groups are composed of participants with similar demographic characteristics.  i.e. age, gender, occupation or education.  By controlling the demographic composition of our group we can be assured that differences among these variables will be less likely to affect the topic of discussion.


How should focus group participants be recruited and selected?

Prevailing logic tells us that the selection of focus group participants should be guided by the research objectives.  If the purpose of a focus group is to evaluate a proposed advertising campaign targeted at college seniors, then it will be necessary to recruit students from a nearby university.  The most common participation incentives include money or free products/services.


Where can a focus group be conducted?

ARI will conduct a focus groups in any facility that offers good accessibility to its participants.  Accessible locations include conference rooms, hotel suites and meeting rooms in office buildings or even churches.  An optimal environment is a roundtable format in a spacious facility. 



How do you obtain samples for online surveys?

ARI uses three different sampling alternatives to accomplish this task.

(1) If your population is defined as visitors to your website then online intercept sampling is the best way to gain access to this population.  Many Java-based or html-imbedded routines will select website visitors on a random basis. 

(2) If your population is defined by customers that have an established relationship with your business, then an invitational sampling technique is the best way to gain access to this population.  This occurs when potential respondents are notified that they may fill out a questionnaire that is linked to the ARI website.  Invitations can be delivered via invoices, receipts or direct mail. 

(3)  If your population is defined by specific demographic variables such as age, income, gender, education and/or occupation, then ARI can secure a pre-profiled sample from a leading online panel vendor.  A panel vendor offers access to consumers who agree to participate in online surveys.  Participants from these samples offer minimal non-response and excellent representation of targeted populations.


Is there a relationship between sample size and sample representativeness?

No, because the selection method, not the size of the sample, determines a sample’s representativeness.  The size of a probability sample depends on a client’s desired accuracy balanced against the cost of data collection for that sample size.


How do you determine the proper sample size for a survey?

ARI uses a proven statistical formula to calculate a sample size based on three factors. These factors are:

(1) Estimated variance in the population, (2) Desired accuracy and (3) The level of confidence needed for your estimate of the true population value.  Variance is always expressed as an estimated percentage.  Desired accuracy is also expressed as a percentage.  i.e. plus or minus 5%  A larger probability sample offers more accuracy but at a greater expense.  The level of confidence is a value used to estimate the distribution characteristics of your sample.  These values enable us to scientifically determine the correct sample size for a survey.  Other practitioners may advocate the simplistic rule of thumb approach.  i.e. A sample should be at least 5% of the population to be accurate.  This method is never used by ARI because there is no relationship between sample size and population size.  In other words, a sample can be a very small percentage of the total population and still offer a high degree of accuracy and cost efficiency.


How do you determine the composition of a sample?

The actual specification of a sampling design begins with the identification of the population to be surveyed.  In other words, who should be included or excluded from our survey or focus group?  This is usually defined by the research objective of your project.  If a client wants to develop a packaging design that targets Hispanic consumers, then we need to draw a random sample of Hispanic participants for our focus group.  Random in this context means that the probability of any one person being included in the sample is precisely equal to the probability of including any other.  ARI uses probability and non-probability sampling techniques.  The distribution of survey invitations to patrons leaving a restaurant is an example of a non- probability sampling technique.  The random selection of 150 customers from a bank’s computerized database is an example of a probability sampling technique.   


Are online samples representative of the population?

If your population of interest is characterized by people who do not have computers and/or Internet access, then online samples are not considered representative.  In these situations, conventional survey techniques are used to collect marketing data.  If your population of interest knows how to use a computer and/or the Internet, then online samples are indeed representative.  

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