TRUE GRIT – Report Highlights Three Key Factors in Market Research Study Design

Market research design
Greenbook’s market research industry GRIT Report is the gold standard for understanding the state of the market research industry and what clients are looking for. In this recent report, I was struck by three of the most important factors in study design:

  1. Proven methodology
  2. Participant engagement
  3. Trust in the results

These key factors caught my attention for two reasons: 1) These factors are not new, but, despite evolving methods and improved technology, they continue to weigh heavily on market research professionals; and 2) (And this is how we know they’re not new) These are the very same factors that clients come to us to help them with, over and over again. This being the case, I thought it would be helpful to explain why dial testing is an effective technique in addressing these three factors and provide some outside testimony to back it up.

Most important factors in market research study design
Credit: Greenbook GRIT Report Q3 – Q4 2016

Factor 1: Proven Methodology

While market researchers are willing to investigate new methods and techniques, there’s no question, the tried-and-true methods that have delivered in the past are the ones that researchers have built their businesses and reputations on.

For 30 years, dial testing has been the preferred method for market researchers seeking to capture in-the-moment perceptions and opinions. It’s been a critical tool for testing and refining TV pilots, advertising, political and policy messaging, sales presentations, product positioning and even legal arguments and testimony.

Per growth hacking strategist, consultant and keynote speaker Kristin Luck, “Dial testing is amazing at determining what specific points are resonating with your target audience… it was instrumental in nearly every trailer and TV test I conducted during my entertainment research years.”

Factor 2: Participant Engagement

This factor seems to be a much hotter topic of discussion as of late. There was a point in time, not that long ago, when researchers gave little thought to the experience of participants in their studies, assuming the incentive was motivation enough to keep participants engaged and focused throughout. As we now know, this is not the case. Study design that does not factor in participant engagement typically leads to poor results.

Whether in-person or online, dial testing enables participants to give moment-to-moment feedback as they are viewing, listening and experiencing. In doing so, participants understand that every moment gives them an opportunity to communicate their opinions and perceptions to the researcher. In addition, participants often comment that the simple act of continuously dialing and the unique design of the hand-held dial (in-person) and the slider (online) keeps them more focused on and attentive to the subject matter.

As Renee Cameron, Global Account Director for The Optimization Group explains, “What I hear over and over again from clients is that they like the dials because all the participants seem much more engaged and the insights provided are much richer.”

Factor 3: Trust in the Results

Seventy-five percent of research buyers (i.e., end clients) surveyed in the GRIT report named, “Trust your results” as the key factor in research design—by far, the biggest factor. This is where dial testing really pays off as it allows you to add that critical layer of data to add credibility to your qualitative findings. Additionally, dial testing uniquely allows you to capture Moments of Truth through its ability to gather real-time and individualized feedback. In doing so, dial testing mitigates the impact of some of the main challenges of traditional research like recall bias and groupthink.

Charlton McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at New York University, uses dial testing to measure the impact of race-based messaging in political ads. Here’s how he puts it, “The dials help us get those participant reactions in real-time… revealing more accurate reflections of what each participant is thinking and feeling at that time.”

To summarize, dial testing has been a proven mainstay of the market research industry for more than 30 years. It engages participants by allowing them to continuously react to material. And, because it captures moments of truth as they occur, before thoughts get away and options become tainted by groupthink, it’s trusted to provide the most granular insights that could otherwise be lost.

A client of ours Kathy Alexander of Mindseye Research Group said it well, “The real-time, moment-to-moment data we get from dial testing gives us unique insights that allow for more focused and valuable discussion and analysis. Our clients love it.” At the end of the day, that’s the factor that means the most.

Want to learn more about what dial testing can do, take 2 minutes and watch this short video. Then, let’s connect and see how we can help you out.