Wording of survey invitation impacts accuracy of results
WIMBLEDON, London --- 25 September 2006 --- A recent study by Lightspeed Research, a leading online market research provider, revealed that including the research topic in a survey invitation can increase the number of false responses in the survey.
Lightspeed Research is driving the debate about how to ensure high quality results from online research in response to the increased number of companies offering market research using online panels. As part of its “Research on Research” project the company investigated in how far mentioning the actual topic of a survey in the invitation influences the accuracy of the results.
Respondents who were told about the topic were more likely to pretend to belong to the target group in order to receive the incentive. As part of the study they were asked to indicate which brands they knew and used. 14% of those who had been told the topic up front claimed to use brands that in fact do not exist.
David Day, CEO Europe at Lightspeed Research commented: “Our study highlights how important it is for research buyers to understand the different approaches and methodologies used for online research. Even the very beginning of any project, the invitation process, can significantly impact the quality of the data collected. Targeted invitations that provide subject matter and incentives for qualifying could cause respondents to take a survey just to receive the incentive, even if they know they do not qualify, which clearly could invalidate the entire research undertaken.”
The study took a sample and divided it into two groups, demographically matched by age and gender. A ‘non-targeted’ invite was sent to one group and explained that the survey would last about 5 minutes and if completed, respondents would win 10 entries for the monthly prize draw. There was no mention of the questionnaire subject matter. The second group was sent a targeted invite clearly indicating that the study was looking for people who went fishing at least once a month and if they qualified and completed the survey they would receive a three Euro electronic gift voucher.
In both groups, those that met the qualifying criteria were then asked four questions regarding fishing rod brands. The list of brands was made up of 15 real brands and 10 non-existent brands. Amongst the group that had received the targeted invite 21 % claimed to be aware of non-existent brands compared to 9 % of the non-targeted group. A similar result was also shown when respondents were asked to list the brands they actually used. In the targeted invite group 14 % of respondents claimed to use non-existent brands, compared to 5 % of non-targeted respondents.
Day added “At Lightspeed Research we aim to always provide the highest quality research. As part of our quality procedures, we do not include the subject matter in our invitations to ensure we do not influence the results before the actual survey has even begun”.
About Lightspeed Research
Lightspeed Research is a trusted quality online market research solutions provider delivering rapid, reliable research results through global online panels. Through its network of proprietary panels and accredited panel partners, Lightspeed Research can provide access to household members across 34 countries in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.
Lightspeed Research's proprietary panels are recruited and maintained to ensure quality and representative sampling to support studies that range in scope and complexity across most industry sectors. Lightspeed Research operates specialty panels covering healthcare, financial services, automotive, B2B, telecommunications, family and more. The company also provides custom panel solutions for clients, building customised panels to address specific client needs.
Through Lightspeed Research, clients can reach both low-incidence and large samples cost-effectively, access extensive background information, and find their target audience through unique screening capabilities.
Lightspeed Research is a member of WPP, one of the world's leading communications services companies. For more information, please visit www.lightspeedresearch.com or send an e-mail to