Research Design

The problem definition pertains to the research objective — it tells us what to measure. The research design pertains to methodology, questionnaire design and sampling — it is concerned with how to measure. A good design is essential to ensuring the validity of the results that we eventually report.

The methodology is dependent on the research objective, and the nature of the problem that needs to be solved. Quantitative methods might work well for some types of problems. For other types of problems it may be more appropriate to use alternative research tools.

Competent analysts are skilled in the use of several different methods of analysis for any particular research objective. They are adept at adopting the best methods to address the research objectives and resolve business issues.

There exist numerous methods for addressing diverse research problems and applications, including many that are based on quantitative research, e.g. tracking of brand image, measuring brand equity, advertising evaluation, price optimization, product validation and so on.

Common to each of these studies, the following steps outline the framework for the execution of the research programme:

  • Information: List of research output required to address the business issues. This should cover the parameters and the units of measure. For instance, top-of-mind, aided and unaided awareness of ABC cooking oil among main grocery shopper. Or household consumption of cooking oil in litres per month.
  • Respondents: Individuals from the target population, who can answer all of the information required in the study. For example main household grocery buyer.
  • Coverage area: Geographical area to be surveyed.
  • Data collection method, for instance online, door-to-door, controlled location and telephone, depends on the nature of the study.
  • Sample frame: List of population units that can be sampled, for instance, telephone directory or area maps (door-to-door).
  • Sampling: The sample size and methodology is dependent on the parameters to be measured. This is covered in detail in Chapter Sampling.
  • Interview length varies with the length of the questionnaire, and the nature of the study. Guidelines on the length of interview vary dependent on the data collection method.
  • Questionnaire design includes the sequencing and flow of questions, and presentation of any relevant stimulus.
  • Analysis and interpretation: The analysis process, and the interpretation and recommendations.
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