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Market Research Glossary

Listed in alphabetical order


Access panel

Also known as a Market Research Panel. A  panel made up of people who have either applied or been invited to become panel members. Panel members are then invited to take part in research projects that are aligned to their profile and registered interests. Respondents are often incentivised with a monetary gift. Panels can be consumer or business-oriented. If you would like to join Meenthe’s panel, please visit:

Accompanied shopping

Observing and interviewing a respondent as they participate in a shopping activity.

Accompanied Surf

Observing and interviewing  a respondent as they interact with a website or app. The respondent may follow their instincts or be aided by instructions from an interviewer. Accompanied surfs can occur remotely or in usability testing suites that can collect additional information such as eye tracking or facial expression monitoring.

Ad Concept Testing

Also known as an Ad Lab. Used as a qualitative and quantitative method, ad concept testing involves the trialling of ad concepts with individual respondents or groups of respondents. These tests observe the relevance, understanding, impact and appeal of the product or service being advertised. A relatively new development in ad concept testing involves measuring the respondents’ neural responses to the ads by asking them to wear a skull cap with sensors attached during the tests (see Neuromarketing Research)

Ad Hoc Research

This refers to studies which are carried out at a particular point in time as opposed to ongoing or longitudinal research. Most qualitative market research is ad hoc in that it is used to answer questions that are important at the time but do not need to be followed up in the future.


Stimulus material where key frames for a television, online video or cinema advertisement are computer generated or drawn and shown in research accompanied by a soundtrack to gauge respondents’ reactions before engaging in full production of the ad.


B2B Research

Abbreviation for Business to Business research. This type of research targets respondents in relationship to their work as opposed to their behaviour as consumers. It often involves gathering their views on particular products or services which they use in their job, or which they are responsible for purchasing on behalf of their employer.

B2C Research

Abbreviation for Business to Consumer research. This describes the types of market research that businesses (and other organisations) conduct with consumers who use their services or products, or may be interested in using them in the future.

Best/Worst Scaling

A survey question type which offers an alternative to Rating Scale questions. Rather than asking respondents to rate attributes on a standard scale (e.g. from 0 to 5 where 0 means not at all important and 5 means very important), respondents are asked shown all of the attributes at once and asked to identify just the most important and the least important. This is designed to overcome personal and cultural differences in responding to rating scales and also any tendency for respondents to say that most attributes are fairly important.


The meaning of bias varies somewhat between qualitative and quantitative research. In qualitative research, bias tends to refer to personal preconceptions that influence decisions and judgements, or to the way in which unskilled moderators can influence the findings of the research through the way in which they conduct the discussion. In quantitative research, it commonly refers to sample bias, i.e. a situation where the sample of people who complete the survey does not accurately represent the population that the research is trying to assess. For example, people who are not confident in using a computer or smartphone will tend to be under-represented in online surveys. However, poor questionnaire design can also introduce bias into quantitative research.

Blind Market Research

Market research in which the participants do not know the name of the end client. See also Double-Blind Market Research. The technique is used to avoid introducing bias into the research findings.

Brand Price Trade Off Research (BPTO)

Brand Price Trade Off provides a way of assessing how consumers place relative value on a product or brand and its impact on brand consumption. In BPTO studies, respondents are expected to consider a basket of brands at a number of different price points. At each price point, respondents select their preferred brand(s). This helps to build a view of price ranges that brands can operate in and still retain customers.

Brand Tracking Research

Brand tracking measures the health of a brand in terms of customer usage and opinion. This can be carried out for both B2B and B2C brands with the aim of obtaining  insight into a brand’s progress at a macro level and diagnosing the changes that will deliver improvement. Key brand tracking metrics will typically cover awareness, consideration, usage and loyalty, as well as attitudes and perceptions.

Bulletin Board Focus Group (BBFG)

An online bulletin board that invites and encourages interaction amongst participants, as well as a dialogue between each participant and the moderator. This approach is often used to collect feedback on product concepts or features.


CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing)

Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) is an interview method where the interviewers talk face-to-face with the respondents but follow an electronic script with built in routing on a tablet computer, typing in the respondent’s answers to each question as the interview proceeds. CAPI can be more efficient in terms of data entry than traditional pen and paper techniques and ensures that the correct question (based on the respondent’s previous answers) is always presented to the interviewer.

Cartoon Completion

A Projective Technique that involves the respondent viewing a cartoon dialogue with two speech bubbles. One of the speech bubbles is empty for the respondent to fill in their answers.

CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interviewing)

Computer Assisted Self Interviewing (CASI) is an interview method where the interviewee communicates directly with a computer instead of the interviewer. Online surveys are a form of CASI, although the term is more commonly used in situations where respondents attend a central location (e.g. to view, taste or smell a product) and then complete a survey about it on a tablet computer.

CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing)

Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) is an interview method where the interviewers call the respondents and follow an electronic script with built in routing, typing in the respondent’s answers to each question as the interview proceeds. The routing ensures that each respondent is always asked the correct questions based on their previous answers.

CATS (Computer Automated Telephone Survey)

A survey in which a computer telephones respondents and asks pre-recorded questions, which they answer using a touch-tone phone or by giving a short answer. Nowadays it is more common to conduct these surveys by sending the questions as text messages to the respondent’s mobile phone.

Causal Research

Research designed to find out if changes in one variable causes a change in another variable, for example, how the amount of advertising that a person sees for a particular brand influences their likelihood of purchasing  that brand.


A mass collection of data from members of the population of interest.

Chat Room

A virtual space where an online focus group takes place. Individuals discuss a topic online, usually through instant text messaging.


A form of interpreting where the interpreter sits alongside moderator and whispers a simultaneous interpretation of what is being said. The term comes from the French word for “whispering”.

Closed question

A type of question where the respondent has a set of predefined answers to choose from. See also Open Question.

Cluster Analysis

A statistical method which is used to group similar objects into categories retrospectively. Cluster analysis is often used to identify psychographic segments.

Cluster Sampling

A sampling approach where the clusters of the population are separated into units (for example, households may be separated by income level or household structure). Respondents are then typically selected at random from each unit.


A qualitative research technique in which customers work together (with each other, with a moderator or with representatives of the client conducting the research) to solve a problem, improve a product or service, or develop aspects of a brand.

Code of Conduct

All professional market research societies have a code of conduct that outlines the rights and responsibilities of those involved in a research project. Meenthe complies with the ICC/Esomar code of conduct which can be found  here:


The translation of respondent answers into a form which is easy to analyse, such as numerical codes. Open-ended questions in quantitative surveys, where respondents may have used different words to express similar concepts, are often processed in this way.

Cognitive Bias

Short-cuts in thinking that lead people to make imperfect decisions. Human decision-making is heavily influenced by past experience, emotional predisposition, social influence or cognitive limitations. This is helpful in the sense that it enables us to avoid being overloaded by the volume of information that is available to us, but can lead us to make poor choices, particularly in unfamiliar situations. Well-designed market research will typically aim to minimise the impact of cognitive bias.

Comparison Testing

Research in which each participant is shown two or more products or concepts and asked to compare them, as opposed to Monadic Testing where each participant is shown a single product or concept.

Concept Boards

The starting point of the creative process which acts as a stimulus for the product, service, advertising and/or pack designs.

Concept Testing

Research based on respondent reactions to the description of a product or service as opposed to the actual product or service itself. Concept tests can be used in either qualitative or quantitative studies to enable clients to determine if the description of a product or service has enough merit to be pursued, as well as highlighting changes that need to be made before further development takes place.

Conflict Interviews

The qualitative research approach of recruiting respondents with conflicting attitudes, values or beliefs in relation to a specific topic. These interviews aim to explore a topic from different perspectives while unlocking subject matter, exploring the strength of the issues and opinions held and finding common ground between different attitudinal or behavioural groups of consumers.

Conjoint Analysis

A survey-based statistical technique which provides a quantitative measure on how respondents value different features of a product or service.

Consecutive Interpreting

A form of interpreting where the interpreter speaks in the gaps between speech, e.g. the moderator asks a question and pause while the interpreter translates it, the interviewee then replies and pauses while the interpreter translates the answer. This form of interpreting is often used in Depth Interviews, particularly if the moderator, interviewee and interpreter are all sitting in the same room or on a video link with a single audio channel. See also Simultaneous Interpreting.

Content Analysis Software

A type of software used in qualitative research. It counts the number of times key phrases/words are used in a conversation.

Contrived Observation

Observing market research participants in a controlled setting (as opposed to Ethnographic Market Research, which aims to observe participants in a natural setting).

Convenience Sampling

This is a non probability-based sampling technique which involves selecting respondents based on who is the most accessible at the time.

Copy Testing

The process of determining the level of understanding, impact, awareness, and credibility that particular advertising or marketing copy generates. The term originates from print advertising but today copy testing is most commonly used in online marketing since the medium allows for very fast and accurate testing of different copies.

Cross Tabulation

During the process of quantitative data analysis, cross tabulations (cross tabs) are used to examine responses to one question relative to responses to one or more other questions (e.g. to identify how different age groups answer particular questions in a different way). Cross-tabs allow researchers to quickly and clearly identify the results of the research conducted and pick out key themes or stories.

Cross-Cultural Research

A method of market research that involves two or more countries or across two or more cultural or ethnic groups.

Customer Journey Mapping

Journey mapping visually captures customers’ processes, needs and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with a given brand. The customer journey map is used to visualise the end to end customer journey across all touchpoints between the customer and the organisation. This is potentially from initial awareness through to contact, purchasing, after sales support, and then renewal or repurchase. The map helps clients to look at how their customers actually experience their brand versus how the brand thinks customers do.

Customer Satisfaction Research

Also known as Customer Experience (CX) Research. A quantitative market research tool used to identify levels of customer satisfaction in relation to various aspects of a product or service. A customer satisfaction survey generally relates to customer experience and includes ways to measure the respondents’ overall satisfaction, likelihood to re-commission a service company or return to the same store or brand to buy a product and their willingness to recommend the service, product or brand to others (see Net Promoter Score).

Cut-and-Paste Analysis

A method which is used to analyse qualitative data. The original data is cut and pasted into sections of a table relating to the various research topics.


Depth Interview

Also known as In-Depth Interviews (IDIs). A depth interview is an unstructured or semi-structured qualitative interview that probes detailed aspects of attitudes, needs, wants and behaviours. This type of interview is typically undertaken with consumers when the subject matter is sensitive or emotive and therefore inappropriate for larger forums such as focus groups. They are often used in B2B and healthcare market research to gather very specific and detailed feedback from respondents who are experts in their field.

Desk Research

Also known as Secondary Research. The collation and analysis of publicly available information such as previous research, the press, the internet, academic reports and statistics already in the public domain. Desk research may be conducted as a precursor to primary market research (which involves talking directly to a sample of the target population), or to augment it.

Dial testing

A market research technique in which respondents/participants give their reaction to a visual or audio stimulus in real time by turning a dial (or moving a slider) to indicate a positive or negative response. Dial testing is widely used to test audience responses to adverts, TV shows and political speeches or debates.

Disqualify (DQ)

Eliminate a potential participant during screening for a market research study. Also referred to as Screening Out or Terminating (because the screening process is terminated based on the person’s responses).

Double-Blind Market Research

Market research in which neither the participants nor the interviewer/ researcher knows the name of the sponsor. The technique is used to avoid introducing bias into the research findings.


ESOMAR (formerly known as The European Society for Opinion and Market Research)

A membership organisation representing the interests of the data, research and insights profession at an international level. Joint publisher of the ICC/ESOMAR Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice.

Ethnographies (or Ethnographic Market Research)

A qualitative market research technique in which respondents/participants are observed using products and services in their own environment, e.g. using a kitchen appliance to make a meal in their own home.

Exit Interview

Interview conducted with a customer leaving a shop, restaurant etc to find out about their experience. Exit interviews are typically short quantitative interviews designed to find out what proportion of departing customers bought something, the reasons why they bought or did not buy, and how likely they are to return. These interviews can identify brand, product or customer experience issues which have been previously unknown or provide a new perspective on known issues. The insight gained can then be used  to increase levels of customer satisfaction and retention.

Eye-Tracking Research

Research using sensors to identify what a participant is looking at, reading, missing or ignoring. It also shows how long a person spent looking at something and the journey that their gaze took before and afterwards. Simple eye-tracking for screen-based stimulus material (e.g. TV ads or website) can be carried out using a webcam, but a greater degree of precision is possible with specially designed eye-tracking glasses which generally use infra-red light to illuminate the participant’s eyes and monitor where the pupils are looking.



The part of a market research study that involves collecting data from external sources, e.g. through interviews or focus groups. It is useful to think of fieldwork as the middle stage of a market research study, preceded by a stage where the objectives of the market research are defined, and followed by a stage where the findings are analysed.

Focus group

A planned group discussion (typically involving 6 to 8 carefully selected participants) led by a moderator which aims to find out the respondents’ perceptions and opinions about the topic under discussion, for example, a brand or a new product. In a focus group, the respondents can interact with each other as well as the moderator, which may generate more, or different, insights to interviewing them individually. A focus group can be held face to face or online and  typically lasts 60 to 120 minutes.

Full Report

A detailed report from a market research study, explaining the methodology used, the sample selected, and containing detailed analysis of all of the findings as well as the conclusions and recommendations. A full report can be expected to contain much more detail than a Topline Report and will accordingly take longer to produce.


Gang Test (or Gang Survey)

A market research session in which a large number of respondents take part at the same time. Gang tests often combine quantitative elements (e.g. self-completed questionnaires) and qualitative elements (e.g. moderator-led discussions).

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

A regulation in European Union law on data protection and privacy for all individuals that applies in the 27 EU Member States and the European Economic Area (EEA), a slightly larger grouping comprising the EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It also addresses the transfer of personal data from the EU and EEA areas to the rest of the world. All market research organisations operating in Europe are obliged to comply with the GDPR.

Generation X

The cohort born between the early to mid-1960s and the early to mid-1980s. By the time they entered the workforce, lifetime employment was no longer the norm, and Generation X has been credited with being more entrepreneurial than the Baby Boomers as a result. They are also seen as more cynical and sceptical of authority and as seeking a better work-life balance than the Baby Boomers. This generation witnessed the emergence of music videos and mobile communications and by the time most of them entered the workforce, personal computers were becoming widespread in business.

Generation Y

Also known as Millennials. The cohort born between the early to mid-1980s and early to mid-2000s. They were entering the workforce as the financial crisis of 2008 struck and their employment prospects have been severely impacted by the recession that followed. They are seen as more socially liberal than earlier generations on issues such as gender definitions and same-sex marriage. Generation Y grew up using personal computers at school and at home, and mobile phones and social media to communicate with their friends.

Generation Z

Also known as Digital Natives. The cohort born in the early to mid-2000s. Since the oldest members of this generation are not yet 18, it is too soon to say how their behaviour and attitudes as adults may differ from previous generations. The internet was already pervasive when this generation was born and they have used smartphones from a young age.


Hall Test

A research methodology where participants are invited to attend a set location and asked for their opinions on a certain stimulus, for example, a new beverage.


A payment made to a market research participant to thank them for giving up their time to take part. The term honorarium is typically used in the context of research with B2B profiles and healthcare professionals. Many countries have rules on the disclosure of honoraria paid to healthcare professionals and acceptable levels of payment.

Hypothesis Testing

In quantitative research, refers to the probability that the finding from a sample could have occurred by chance. For example, suppose you have developed a new formulation for your product and want to find out if people prefer it to the current one by asking a random sample of 100 people to test both formulations. The null hypothesis would be that there is no preference for the new formulation and the alternative hypothesis would be that people do prefer the new formulation. Based on the number of people who preferred the new formulation in your sample, a statistical hypothesis test will tell you how likely it is that the null hypothesis is true and conversely, how likely it is that the alternative hypothesis is true. In qualitative research, hypothesis testing may refer to any kind of preliminary research to test out new ideas, which may then be explored in more detail through further qualitative or quantitative research.



International Chamber of Commerce. Joint publisher of the ICC/ESOMAR Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice.

Incidence Rate

The proportion of the target population that qualify to take part in the study, based on the screening criteria that have been set. This is a key cost driver for market research as it determines the number of people who need to be screened to select the sample. To reduce unnecessary screening, the target population is typically narrowed as far as possible based on information that the research agency already holds about potential respondents such as their age, location, profession or household composition. Note that in healthcare research, incidence rate refers to the rate of newly diagnosed cases in a given period (typically a year). The proportion of people living with a condition, whether newly diagnosed or not, is referred to as prevalence.


A monetary or non-monetary reward given to a market research participant to thank them for giving up their time to take part. Also referred to as an honorarium in B2B and healthcare market research.

In-Depth Interview

Also known as a Depth Interview. An unstructured or semi-structured qualitative interview that probes detailed aspects of attitudes, needs, wants and behaviours. This type of interview is typically undertaken with consumers when the subject matter is sensitive or emotive and therefore inappropriate for larger forums such as focus groups. They are often used in B2B and healthcare market research to gather very specific and detailed feedback from respondents who are experts in their field.


The conclusions drawn from the analysis of research data.


Judgement sampling

Describes the situation where a market researcher consciously selects the sample which they believe to be the most appropriate for the research.




Likert Scale

A type of Rating Scale survey question where respondents are asked to state the extent to which they agree of disagree with a series of statements (e.g strongly agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree, slightly disagree, strongly disagree). The scale is named after its inventor, psychologist Rensis Likert. Traditionally Likert scales have an odd number of possible answers, leaving a neutral position in the middle, but in market research they can include an even number of possible answers instead, forcing respondents to decide which side of the middle they are on. The term Likert scale is often used to describe other types of rating scales as well.

Longitudinal Market Research

Longitudinal market research monitors changes in respondents’ perceptions, behaviour or demands over time. A longitudinal study may observe the same group of people for a protracted period, in which case it is called a cohort study. The participants will often have a key characteristic in common.


Market Entry Research

Research designed to help a company gain the insight needed to enter a new geographic market or launch a new brand, product or service, for example, by understanding the ways in which the new target customers are similar to the company’s existing companies and the ways in which they are different. May use a combination of desk research, qualitative primary research and quantitative primary research.

Market Research Online Community (MROC) or Online Research Community (ORC)

A group of research participants, typically users (or potential users) of the client’s products and services that is set up to take part in ad hoc or longitudinal market research. An MROC can be thought of as a longer term version of an online bulletin board. Whereas an online bulletin board is usually set up with a specific purpose in mind and lasts a few days, an MROC may be set up to serve multiple purposes and the community may remain active for weeks, months or even years.

Market Research Panel

Also known as an Access Panel. A panel made up of people who have either applied or been invited to become panel members. Panel members are then invited to take part in research projects that are aligned to their profile and registered interests. Respondents are often incentivised with a monetary gift. Panels can be consumer or business-oriented. If you would like to join Meenthe’s panel, please visit:

MaxDiff Scaling (Maximum Difference Scaling)

A type of survey question designed to rank the preferences of individual respondents to a set of attributes or features. In its simplest form (which would more correctly be called Best/Worst Scaling) respondents are simply shown a list of attributes and asked to pick their favourite and their least favourite. This provides quite a lot of information about their ranking preferences but their preference for each possible pair of attributes. However, by repeating the question several times with different selections of attributes displayed each time, it is possible to build up a complete view of pairwise preferences.


The Market Research Society. A professional body for market research based in London. MRS members must adhere to the MRS Code of Conduct.

Mobile Market Research (MMR)

Market research where the respondent participates via a handheld device such as a mobile or tablet.


The person who leads a focus group or conducts a depth interview. The role of the moderator is to create the right environment for the focus group or interview, guide the discussion to ensure that all relevant topics are covered in the right amount of depth, probe the respondents’ initial answers to validate them and obtain deeper insights, and act as a time-keeper.

Monadic Testing

Research in which each participant is shown a single product or concept, as opposed to a comparison test where each participant is shown two or more products or concepts at the same time and asked to compare them. Sequential Monadic Testing is a variation of the basic monadic test in which participants are shown several products or concepts one after the other and asked to comment on each one individually.

Multi-Modal Research

Usually refers to market research that uses a combination of different methodologies (e.g. a mix of face-to-face and telephone interviews). May also refer to research that asks participants to use several different senses to comment on a product, e.g. the appearance, aroma and taste of a food product, or which uses a combination of verbal and non-verbal responses to the stimulus material.

Mystery Shopping Research

Covert testing of a store in which a shopper conducts a ‘real’ visit and undertakes pre-defined shopping to assess the nature of the customer experience being provided. Now also used to refer to covert testing of services (e.g. at a bank branch or airport check-in).



Ethnographic research which is carried out purely online, usually through an online community moderated by a researcher.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A value calculated by asking respondents “How likely are you to recommend this brand, product or service to a friend?”. The classic question asks them to rate this on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 means not at all likely and 10 means extremely likely. Respondents who answer 9 or 10 are referred to as Promoters, those who answer 7 or 8 are referred to as Passives and those who answer 0 to 6 are referred to as Detractors. The NPS is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors.

Neuromarketing Research

Neuromarketing applies to the use of neuroscience techniques to reveal the brain’s non-conscious reaction to marketing stimuli. The method uses technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging measure activity in different areas of the brain, whilst sensors are able to detect changes in physiology, including breathing, heart rate and skin response. Eye tracking monitors focal attention whilst facial coding can translate facial expression into human emotions.

New Product Development Research

Market research designed to support the development of new products and services. This type of research can be carried out using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It aims to identify and evaluate new commercial opportunities, assess early-stage propositions or enable respondents to interact with more developed ideas or prototypes.


A person who would consider buying or using a particular product or service, even if they don’t currently do so. Market research clients typically want to hear from non-rejectors of the product or service they are researching: they can learn what current users like and dislike about it, and they can learn what they might need to change to attract potential users. However, people who have already made up their minds that they’ll never buy or use it may not be willing to engage at all, or may only be able to offer limited insights to the client.


One-way mirror

Also known as a two-way mirror. In a viewing facility, a window that separates the client viewing area from the respondents’ area. From the respondents’ side the window looks like a mirror, but from the client side it looks like a piece of tinted glass, allowing the client representatives to see the respondents.

Online Bulletin Board (OLBB or OBB)

Online research typically held over the course of several days. Participants will be expected to contribute to activities such as online chats and respond to stimulus material that is provided by a moderator. Usually, online bulletin boards offer flexibility by allowing participants to respond at a time that suits them, which helps to reduce the drop-out rate.

Open-ended question

Also known as an unstructured question. Survey questions that the respondents answer in their own words rather than selecting from pre-defined  answers. Open-ended questions can provide more qualitative information than closed questions but a survey with too many open-ended questions can tire respondents.


Paired interviews

A type of interview where respondents are interviewed in pairs, e.g. Business partners, siblings or married couples.


See Market Research Panel


Someone who takes part in market research. Also known as a respondent.

Pilot Study

A study conducted before a main research exercise. This is used to evaluate elements of a proposed research approach before a full roll out of the study. Pilot studies are routinely used for quantitative studies, typically involving 10% of the full quota, to check that all aspects of the study are running smoothly before proceeding with the rest of the sample. Pilot studies may also be used in large qualitative projects to validate the approach being taken.

Pre-task or Pre-work

A task given to market research participants to complete before taking part in a qualitative market research study, for example completing a diary, filling in a questionnaire, or making a note of their purchases at a supermarket. Pre-tasks aim to ensure that respondents are conscious of the research subject area, allowing for a more focused discussion when the research project commences.


In healthcare research, the proportion of the population with the condition of interest.

Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM)

A technique for determining consumer price preferences. Respondents are asked at what price they would consider a product or service to be cheap, expensive, so cheap that they would doubt the quality and so expensive that they would not consider buying it. The results are plotted as cumulative frequencies (with the cheap and too cheap lines inverted), with the intersection of the cheap and expensive lines often considered to be the optimal price point.

Pricing Research

Research geared towards determining how the demand for a product or service will change according to its price point, i.e the the price elasticity of demand for the product or service.

Primary Research

Research conducted directly with subjects of a study (as opposed to Secondary Research which involves the collation of pre-existing sources of data). The term is a catch-all, referring to both qualitative and quantitative approaches including focus groups, surveys, field tests and observation.

Product Positioning Research

Research undertaken in order to understand how a product or a brand is perceived to be positioned on key attributes relative to competitors or substitutes. Usually carried out to ensure that the product or brand in question can be positioned in the most effective way in the market.

Projective Technique

A technique in which participants are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and feelings about a product or brand by reference to another object or situation. A classic example is the question “if Brand X was an animal, what type of animal would it be?”. Other projective techniques include Word Association, sentence completion and Cartoon Completion.


A method of grouping respondents or consumers who may otherwise be very different, in terms of similar psychological characteristics such as their attitudes, values, outlook or fears. A simple example would be to categorise people as novelty-seekers or traditionalists. Identifying these characteristics can form the basis for segmentation and targeting.


Qualitative Market Research

A research approach which involves a small number of carefully selected individuals and is used to produce non-quantifiable insights into behaviour, motivations, attitudes and opinions. Qualitative methodologies include focus groups, bulletin boards and depth interviews.

Quantitative Market Research

A research approach which is structured to produce quantifiable insights into behaviour, motivations and attitudes, typically by interviewing a Representative Sample of the target population. This research method is characterised by the use of structured questionnaires and set questions with limited responsiveness to context. Quantitative research usually involves interviews with a fairly large sample of the target population to ensure that the results are statistically significant. Quantitative methodologies include online surveys, telephone surveys and face-to-face surveys.


Random Sample

A sample based on a random selection of a subset of a total population. Each individual has the same probability of being selected. Almost all statistical calculations performed on samples, such as Hypothesis Testing,  are predicated on the sample having been randomly selected. It is also worth noting that choosing a random sample minimises the risk that the sample will be  biased due to unknown causes, whereas choosing a representative sample minimises the risk that the sample will be biased due to known causes.

Rating scale

A type of survey question where respondents are asked to respond to questions or statements by assigning by assigning a numeric value (e.g. on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 means strongly disagree and 5 means strongly agree, how much do you agree with the following statements?) or a non-numeric value (e.g. picking an emoji that best represents their view of the service they have received). The agree/disagree version of a rating scale question is called a Likert Scale.


The process of selecting market research respondents/participants who fit the client’s target profile and validating their suitability and willingness to participate in the study.

Representative Sample

A subset of a larger cohort that reflects the wider characteristics of that cohort, e.g. in terms of factors such as gender, age, education, working status, income and purchasing behaviour. A representative sample may also be random, but it is not necessarily so. Choosing a representative sample minimises the risk that the sample will be biased due to known causes, whereas a random sample minimises the risk that the sample will be  biased due to unknown causes.

Research Design

The specification of research to be undertaken. It generally contains details about the methodology, sample, geographic focus, data collection approach, data analysis methodology and the format of reporting.


Someone who takes part in market research. Also known as a participant.

Response Rate

The number of successfully completed interviews or returned questionnaires expressed as a percentage of the original sample size.



A subset of the target population selected to take part in a market research study.

Screen out

Eliminate a potential participant during screening for a market research study. Also referred to as Disqualifying or Terminating (because the screening process is terminated on the basis of the person’s responses).


A short questionnaire used to determine if a person meets the criteria to take part in a particular market research exercise. Someone who meets the criteria is said to screen in, while someone who does not is said to screen out. To minimise the risk of frustration amongst their panellists, many quantitative panel companies insist that screeners take less than two minutes to complete. Even if there is no firm time limit, it is good practice to think what questions you would ask in a screener to find out whether a person is suitable or not in two minutes.

Secondary Research

Also known as Desk Research. The collation and analysis of publicly available information such as previous research, the press, the internet, academic reports and statistics already in the public domain. Secondary research may be conducted as a precursor to primary market research (which involves talking directly to a sample of the target population), or to augment it.

Sequential Monadic Testing

Testing in which participants are shown several products or concepts one after the other and asked to comment on each one individually (as opposed to comparing them to each other). In sequential monadic testing the order of presentation is typically randomised to avoid  ‘order bias’.

Shopper Intercepts

Research conducted with participants who have just had an experience with a given brand, for example they are leaving a particular shop (in which case the interview is a form of Exit Interview).

Simultaneous Interpreting

A form of interpreting where the interpreter listens to what is being said on headset and speaks a translation at the same time (usually while sitting in a separate booth or room), usually for the benefit of observers, who may also wear headsets. Simultaneous interpreting is what you see taking place in big international meetings, such as those at the United Nations and the European Commission. It is also used for larger focus groups where Consecutive Interpreting would affect the flow of the discussion.

Socio Economic Classification

A method of classifying households or consumers from those households that is frequently used in market research as a proxy for social class or spending power. Most socio economic classifications are country specific. The standard classification in the UK is the National Readership Survey (NRS) social grades (A, B, C1, C2, D and E), which are based on the occupation of the head of the household. In other countries socio economic classifications may be based on type of home and ownership of consumer durables.

Statistical Significance

If the difference between two statistical measures is large enough to be unlikely to have occurred as a result of chance or sampling error, then the difference is considered to be statistically significant. A significance level of 5% is often chosen, i.e. if the probability of the result occurring due to chance or sampling error is less than 5%, the the result is considered to be statistically significant. See also Hypothesis Testing.


Tele-depth Interview (TDI)

A qualitative in-depth interview conducted remotely. It may be conducted by telephone but strictly speaking, any form of remote depth interview (e.g. an online video interview) is also a tele-depth interview since the word “tele” is derived from the Greek for “far”.


Close an interview or screening process, typically by disqualifying a prospective participant from further consideration during screening. Also referred to as screening out.

Text Analytics

Within the context of market research, this relates to the examining of text written by or about customers with the aim of locating sentiment, issues and opportunities that may not be picked up by other forms of monitoring or research. This is often assisted by text analysis software which helps segment the data and identify any patterns that exist.

Topline Report

A summary report from a market research study, containing key findings and recommended actions. A topline report does not provide detailed data nor explain methodologies but is an appropriate option for clients needing to understand the key conclusions without point-by-point explanation. See also Full Report.


A group discussion involving three respondents.


Usability testing

A market research technique in which respondents/participants are asked to perform a task or a series of tasks while being recorded or observed by a researcher with the aim of finding out where they encounter difficulties or experience confusion. Online retailers and service providers frequently conduct usability testing to test how easy their websites are to use.

Usage & Attitude Survey (U&A)

A survey designed to identify how often consumers are buying a particular product or brand versus competing products or brands and what they feel about a particular product or brand compared to its competitors. Often used as part of Product Positioning Research.

User Journey

The experiences that a person has when using or interacting with a particular product or service. Often used in relation to software applications or websites – for example the experience of using an e-commerce site. By mapping the user journey and identifying problem areas, website and application designers aim to improve the user’s  experience.


Video Survey

A type of unmoderated qualitative research in which participants respond to a series of questions or instructions by making a short video (usually on their smartphone) giving their answer. These videos are then uploaded for the client or moderator to review.

Viewing Facility (or Viewing Studio)

A venue designed specifically for hosting qualitative market research sessions. It will be equipped with audio and video recording and streaming facilities and usually enables the clients to watch the research taking place from a viewing area which is separated from the respondents’ area by a One-way Mirror.



Adjusting the value of the responses to a survey from over- or under-represented segments so that the final results are in proportion to those expected from the target population.

Word Association Test

A Projective Technique in which a researcher asks respondents what words they associate with particular products or brands.

Word Cloud

Visual representation of the words associated with a brand or object. These words are in various sizes and are displayed in a cluster. The size of the word demonstrates how frequently the words have been mentioned.