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Prof. Shelendra K.


Questionnaire design, to be effective, should be done with the respondent in mind. Language The first and foremost question we have to ask ourselves as a researcher is What language is the respondent going to understand and respond in? The questionnaire must be designed such that it can be used in the language concerned.

This does not necessarily mean it has to be printed in each language in which it has to be administered.
For instance, a questionnaire printed in English could be administered to the respondent in the local language he speaks, by a trained interviewer who could translate each question on-line. The answers can be recorded in the given English language form if the interviewer is fluent in both languages. This makes it easier to tabulate. Alternatively, the numerical codes for the answers can be in usual numbers, and the questionnaire could be translated into any language required for the respondent to understand. But the translation must be as consistent as possible with the original.

Difficulty Level Avoid marketing jargon or difficult words unless the respondent is a postgraduate or an experienced executive. In other words, keep the language as simple and straightforward as possible. Fatigue Avoid unnecessary questions. The golden rule is to keep the questionnaire as short as possible, and the ideal maximum interview time is probably about 20 minutes per interview. Cooperation with Researcher Encourage the respondent to respond. In personal interviews, introduce the subject of the research and the agency represented, before starting the interview. In questionnaires which are filled by respondents themselves, there must be a two-three line introduction and request for respondents cooperation at the top of the questionnaire. In mailed questionnaires, a covering letter detailing the purpose of the study and explaining what use its results will be put to, along with a return pre-paid/stamped envelope, is likely to increase manifold the response rate.

There is a tendency on the part of respondents to give wrong, but socially acceptable answers to even the most ordinary, innocuous questions. For example, the socially desirable answer to the question Do you read the daily newspaper? is yes. It is as likely to be wrong as right.

There are many ways to verify the accuracy of responses and to deal with them. Some of the techniques are
Repeating the same or similar question in the questionnaire at different places. Asking indirect questions Asking follow up questions to probe if the respondent is really truthful. For example, we could ask the respondent to state one important headline, or describe one important story he remembers, if he states that he reads the daily newspaper.

This could be from the same days or previous days, newspaper.

Deliberately introducing non-existent periodicals, or advertisements, and asking the respondent if he/she has seen them.

A questionnaire has to be carried on the field, and data may be recorded on it while standing in awkward postures. The questionnaire design should ensure it is easy to carry, visible in different kinds of light, and the distance between different answer categories should be sufficient so that there is no confusion or mistake while placing a tick over the actual response for a given question. Coding If the questionnaire is coded before doing the field work (as most questionnaires are these days), it must be ensured that the field staff knows where to mark the answers on the code or on the actual answer choice. This should be done during the briefing and mock interview. Instructions for Navigation Frequently, a questionnaire contains printed instructions for the interviewer. This includes Go To statements, such as If respondent is a non-user of Brand X, then Go To Q.5. If not, Go To Q.9..

Questions in a questionnaire should appear in a sequence starting from non-threatening or ice-breaking or introductory questions, and then proceed to the main body of questions. Generally, the age, income, occupation, education and similar demographic questions should appear at the end of a questionnaire, after an interviewer has established a rapport or familiarity with the respondent. If these are asked in the beginning, there is a high likelihood of suspicion and noncooperation resulting in a wasted effort in many cases. As far as possible, questions should follow a logical sequence, and must be phrased appropriately. Biased and Leading Questions The questions should be carefully worded to avoid bias. It is not a good practice to ask questions such as Dont you think liberalization is a good idea? You could be better off getting an unbiased reply asking a question like Some people think liberalization is a good thing, and some think it is bad. What do you think?

One indicator that a questionnaire is monotonous for the respondent is if he answers Agree to every question or Disagree to every question, for four to five questions in a row. If this happens, the researcher must find a way to overcome the potential problem, by re-sequencing the questions which force the respondent to think before he answers, or by changing the scale, or by some other method. Analysis Required

A questionnaire design is dependent on the analysis required from it. But the most important effect of the analysis required is in the scale of measurement that must be used.

Marketing research uses the following four major types of scales Nominal, Ordinal, Interval and Ratio Scale. Nominal Scale A nominal scale uses numbers as labels, with no numerical sanctity. For example, if we want to categorise male and female respondents, we could use a nominal scale of 1 for male and 2 for female. But 1 and 2 in this case do not represent any order or distance. They are simply used as labels. For instance, we could easily label females as 1 and males as 2, and it could still be a valid nominal scale. We can use the nominal scale to indicate categories of any variable which is not to be given a numerical significance. For example, demographic variables such as religion, education level, languages spoken, and other variables like magazines read, T.V. shows watched, user or non-user of a brand, brands bought, etc. can be nominally scaled.

Nominally scaled variables cannot be used to perform many of the statistical computations such as mean, standard deviation etc., because such statistics do not have any meaning when used with nominal scale variables.

However, counting of number of responses in each category and computation of percentages after division by the sample size is allowed. Also, nominal scale variables can be used to do cross tabulations, one of the most popular methods of routine analysis. The chi-squared test can be performed on a cross tabulation of nominal scale data.

To repeat, simple tabulations (also called frequency tables) and cross tabulations can be done with nominal scale variables.

Ordinal scale variables are ones which have a meaningful order to them. A typical marketing variable is ranks given to brands by respondents.

These ranks are not interchangeable, as nominal scale labels are. This is because rank 1 means it is ranked higher than rank 2. Similarly, rank 2 is higher than rank 3, and so on.
Instead of 1, 2 and 3, however, we could use any other numbers which preserve the same order. For example, 3, 10, 15 could denote the same ranking order instead of 1, 2 and 3. This is because we do not know for sure what the distance between 1 and 2 is, or what the distance between 2 and 3 is. Ranking simply denotes that 1 is higher than 2, and 2 higher than 3, but higher by how much is unknown. For one respondent, 1 and 2 may be close together; for another, they could be far from each other. The statistics which can be used with the ordinal scale are the median, various percentiles such as the quartile, and the (Spearman) Rank Correlation. This is in addition to the frequency tables and cross tabulations, which can also be used.

Arithmetic mean (or average) should not be used on the ordinal scale variables. For example, the average rank of a set of rankings does not have any meaning. Even though weighted indexes are calculated in practice from rank order data, it is, strictly speaking, not allowed.

An interval scale variable can be used to compute the commonly used statistical measures such as the average (arithmetic mean), standard deviation, and the Pearson Correlation coefficient. Many other advanced statistical tests and techniques also require interval-scaled or ratio scaled data. Most of the behavioural measurement scales used to measure attitudes of respondents on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 or 1 to 10 can be treated as interval scales. These types of scales, also known as Rating Scales, are very commonly used in marketing research. If a consumer is asked for his satisfaction level with a product or service or any other attribute related to it, on a scale of 1 to 10, it is an interval-scaled rating. We could use it to compute the average rating given by all respondents in the sample. Standard deviation can also be computed. The difference between interval scale and ordinal scale variables is that the distance between 1 and 2 is the same as the distance between 2 and 3, and 3 and 4 in an interval scale. That is, the difference between two successive numerical measures is fixed, whereas in rank-ordered data, it is not fixed.

All arithmetic operations are possible on a ratio-scaled variable. These include computation of geometric mean, harmonic mean, and all other statistics like the average, standard deviation and Person Correlation, and also the tests such as the t test and the F test. In a ratio type scale, there is a unique zero or beginning point. A interval scale does not have a unique zero (It is an arbitrary zero). Also, the ratio of two values of the scale corresponds to the same ratio among the measured values. For example, distance is a ratio scaled variable. It has a zero which is unique. 2 metres is to 1 metre as 2 kilometres is to 1 kilometre. Also, 4 metres to 1 metre, and 30 metres to 7.5 metres. The ratios can be measured at any two points, and they would correctly denote the relationship. Not many ratio-scaled variables exist in marketing. Some of them are length, height, weight, age(in years) and income (measured in rupees, not as an income category).

Structured and Unstructured Questionnaires Structured questionnaires are those where the questions to be asked are standardised, and no variation is permitted in terms of the wording of the questions between different interviewers. Standardisation in a structured questionnaire usually extends to the answers also. In effect, then, we can standardise either (1) questions only, or (2) both questions and answers. Structured Questions Structured questions improve the reliability of the study, by ensuring that every respondent is asked the same question, word for word. For example, the question " Do you live in Delhi?" may be construed differently from the question " Are you a resident of Delhi?" by some respondents, even though it appears that both questions are asking for the same information. A person who is normally not a resident of Delhi but is living there at present on a short visit may answer "yes to the first question but "no" to the second one. It is best to keep the question exactly the same (either version 1 or version 2), when asked by different interviewers.

Structured Answers Structuring or standardising answers which a respondent can choose from in a questionnaire also achieves consistency of form. Additionally, it makes the interpretation of answers, analysis and tabulation, easier than in the case of unstructured answers. Unstructured answers become difficult to categorise after the study, and different analysts may interpret them differently - so they may lend themselves to subjective interpretations. Subjectivity by itself is not bad, but it becomes difficult to defend it if the sponsors(clients) of the study are quantitatively oriented. Most large scale studies in marketing research therefore, choose the less risky, and easier to manage, structuredanswer approach.

Questions which permit any answer from the respondent in his own words are called open-ended questions. Questions which structure the possible answers beforehand are known as closed-ended questions.

An example of an open-ended question is " What do you like about Surf detergent?"____________________________________
The respondent can say whatever he wants to, in response to this question. On the other hand, a closed-ended question which elicits similar information could be "What do you like about Surf detergent? Its cleaning power Its Price Its fragrance That it dissolves easily Its stain-removing ability Any other, (please specify)____________________________________

Here, options "a" to "e" are pre-determined, but "f" provides for anything else the respondent wants to add.

Sometimes questions that are disguised (rather than direct) can elicit more accurate replies. For example, we may ask a person if he/she is a good parent. This is a direct question. Or, we may ask for the respondent's opinion on the deficiencies they have observed in how others bring up their children- say, their neighbours, relatives or friends. This is an indirect question, and a qualified analyst can interpret the answers to gauge how good a parent the respondent might be, from the responses given. The problem with the direct question in this case is that most people will not admit to being a bad parent. But they may come out freely with other people's deficiencies, some of which could reflect their own shortcomings. There are other reasons why disguised questions are sometimes needed. It is often found that respondents are biased when they know who is the sponsor of the study. To get true, unbiased opinions regarding attitudes towards brands, researchers sometimes do not let on the name of the sponsor. For example, a well known multinational company making electrical switches for industrial application once did an anonymous survey in Mumbai among its customers and found many deficiencies in its products and service which they otherwise may not have found out. If it results in more accurate data without doing any harm to the respondent, it may be a legitimate way to do the study.

Completely disguised or indirect questions probing into the psyche of a person are usually used for qualitative research, as part of projective techniques, etc. To summarise, market researchers usually ask structured, undisguised questions in a typical study done on a large sample. Most studies also tend to be of the "quantitative type, where numbers (frequencies), percentages, averages or similar summary statistics are computed. These types of analyses are easier to do with structured formats for answers. Even if a study is primarily based on structured responses, a couple of open-ended questions may still be included in it if they are the best suited for the task on hand. One such category of questions is called "Probing" questions in marketing research terminology. These are used as a follow up after a structured response question. An example of this use of open-ended question following a structured question is Which brand of mosquito mats do you use? Good Knight Mortein Jet Why do you use this particular brand?_________________________ In this question, the second part is open-ended, while the first part is closed-ended.

The six major types of questions that most questionnaires would generally use are Open-ended Dichotomous (2 choices) Multiple Choice Ratings or Rankings Paired Comparisons Semantic Differential, or other special types of scales.

An open-ended question is one which leaves it to the respondent to answer it as he chooses. An example is What do you think of the taste of Brand X of Cola? No alternatives are suggested. The answer can be in the respondents own words.

These are those which ask the respondent to choose between two given alternatives. The most common example of this is the yes or no type of questions Are you a user of Brand X toilet soap? Yes or No are the alternatives given. A third choice is sometimes added to dichotomous questions such as Do you like Brand X of potato chips? The choices given are Yes, no, and neither like nor dislike. Sometimes, any other, please specify ______ is used instead of neither like nor dislike.

These are extensions of dichotomous questions, except that the alternatives listed number more than two. A common example is as follows Please tick against the factors which made you buy this brand of car : Reasonable Price Great Looks (Appearance) Fuel Economy Easy Availability of Service Any Other, please specify.

In the above question, more than one category can be chosen. In some multiple choice questions, only one category is to be chosen. For example, look at the question belowPlease specify your age group Below 15 16-25 26-40 Above 40 Only one of the above is to be chosen. It must be clear to the respondent and the interviewer whether only one choice is allowed, or more than one are allowed for a multiple choice question.

This is a question of the type, Please rate the following detergent brands on a scale of 1 to 7 in their ability to clean clothes. Brand A1 Brand B 1 Brand X1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 7 7

This is an example of rating. Ranking would have looked as follows :

Please rank their ability Brand Brand Brand (1=Best, 2=next best, etc.) the following detergent brands on to clean clothes. A----B ----X-----

A special type of question is the paired comparison.

This requires the respondent to choose between pairs of choices at a time. For example, there could be six brands of colour TVs, Brands A, B, C, D, E, F. A respondent may be asked to do a paired comparison to say which Brand is better, but for only two Brands at a time.
He is given a table or a card with two brands written on it, and has to choose the better brand, each time. This process has to repeat for as many pairs as exist in the given set of objects or brands. Some special techniques such as Multidimensional Scaling need data from paired comparisons.

Another scale commonly used by marketing researchers is called the semantic differential. This type of question is similar to the rating scale. The only additional feature is that a set of two adjectives forms the two extreme points of the scale. For example, a product is Easy to Use Expensive Easily Available Convenient |----------------------| Difficult to Use |----------------------| Inexpensive |----------------------| Not Easily Available |-----|-----|-----|-----| Inconvenient

There may be several intermediate points between the two extreme values of the scale. These could be coded 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 or whatever the number of points is. A commonly used 5 point scale is from Completely Agree to Completely Disagree. There may be questions based on other scales which are standard or specially constructed. Some scales like the Likert Scale are named after people who invented them.

The researcher must decide on the scale and type of question based on the following factors. Information Need Output format desired Ease of tabulation Ease of interpretation Ease of statistical analysis Reduction of various errors in understanding or use by respondents and field workers

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Example of Information Needs :

A soft drink concentrate manufacturer (such as Rasnas manufacturer, for example) wants to know the following :

Demographic profile of users versus non-users of soft drink concentrates.

Among users the preference for liquid concentrate versus powder. preference for powder with sugar added, versus powder with no added sugar.

occasions of use by self

whether served to guests rating on convenience, taste, price and availability brand preferred among soft drink concentrates. Among non-users Reasons for not using soft drink concentrate Substitute product usage, if any, and reasons for using or consuming them Let us attempt to develop a questionnaire for the above information needs.

Questionnaire for Soft Drink Concentrate Study Q. No. _______

Date ---------Centre _______ Dear Sir / Madam, We are doing a brief survey to find out more about consumer preferences regarding soft drink concentrate. We would be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to participate in it. Thank you for your cooperation.

Do you use soft drink concentrate to make your own soft drinks at home ? Yes No

If yes, continue with Q.2. If No, Go To Q.9.

Do you use liquid or powdered concentrate ? (Tick only one) Liquid Powder Both

Which type of concentrate do you prefer out of the following ? Concentrate with sugar added Concentrate without sugar added

What are the occasions when you use soft drink concentrate to make soft drinks ? (Tick only one) Regularly, all year round Regularly, only in summer Occasionally, all year round Occasionally, only in summer

Do you serve it to guests ? Yes No Depends on the guest

Which brand do you use ? Rasna Brand X Brand Y Any other (please specify) ____

Please rate the brand you use on the following attributes, on a scale of 1 to 7 (7=Very Good, 1=Very poor).

Availability Taste Convenience Price

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |----|----|----|----|----|----|----| |----|----|----|----|----|----|----| |----|----|----|----|----|----|----| |----|----|----|----|----|----|----|

Any other comments on the brand you use ? _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

After Q. 8, Go To Demographics

Non Users
Q 11. Do you consume any of the following regularly ? (You may tick more than one)

Fruit Juice Squash Bottled Soft Drinks Tea Coffee Nimbu Pani Buttermilk



What are the reasons for not using soft drink concentrate ? (You may tick more than one)
Does Not Taste Good Expensive Chemical Additives Does not Contain Natural Fruit Juice Not Available Easily No Nutritional Value Any other (Please Specify) _______________________________________________


Please let us know a little more about yourself. Your age group Less than 25 26 40 41 50 Over 50 Your monthly household income Less than 5000 Rupees/Month . 5001 to 10,000 Rupees/Month . 10,001 to 15,000 Rupees/Month . Over 15,000 Rupees/Month .

Address :

_____________________________________ ______________________________ _____________________________________

Critically examine the questionnaire above to suggest improvements in any of the questions or the scales or the choices given in the multiple choice questions. Some hints for discussing the merits and demerits of the above questionnaire Are the income and age categories adequate for analysis of the data? (Questions 11 and 12) Is the 7 point scale used in Question 7 easy to understand? Is it appropriate? Adequate? Should there be an open-ended question number 8? Why? Have we left out anything? Such as who decides on the brand to buy (for users)? Who decides to buy/use substitutes (for non-users)? Should we also ask which family members drink the soft drink (for users) made from concentrate? Should we ask the convenience and price questions separately (Question 7) and differently? What exactly do we want to know from respondents regarding price? Are we getting the answer?

Inexperienced questionnaire designers have a tendency to combine two questions into a single question, such as Are you happy with the price and quality of Brand Y ? Yes No

This is not a good question to ask, because the answer will be ambiguous, whether it is yes or no. It would not be clear whether the respondent has said yes for price alone, quality alone, or for both. The same problem exists for a no answer. It is better to rephrase the question and provide for different answer categories for each attribute, or ask two separate questions, one for price and one about quality.

In general, a questionnaire is good if it measures what it set out to measure (i.e. it is VALID) and does it in an efficient manner. Usually, a questionnaire goes through various stages before it is used in the field. Listing of information needs Conversion into questions with suitable scales of measurement Sequencing of questions into a logical order Trying it out in a pre-test on a handful of respondents in a convenience sample or a field sample Modifications in the wording, scale or sequence as a result of the pre-test, and then Preparation of the final draft for the actual study are the usual steps involved. Most faults in a questionnaire would be ironed out in this process if followed meticulously.

Problems in a typical study stem from a lack of sufficient thought given to the analysis required in advance.

The solution for this is to prepare blank output formats for each question on the questionnaire, before doing the field work.

In many cases, the value of the research increases manifold by slightly modifying the scale or wording of the questions asked. Remember, it is cheaper to modify the questionnaire in advance than think about what could have been done after the study is over.

Reliability is the property by which consistent results are achieved when we repeat the measurement of something. A questionnaire used on a similar population which produces similar results can be termed as reliable. Consistency of form and manner of asking questions (their exact wording, the amount of structuring, etc.) generally ensures reliability. Proper training given to interviewers in a study also improves reliability, by reducing variation in the way they ask questions and record answers. Validity is the property by which a questionnaire measures what it is supposed to measure. If we want to measure attitudes towards brands of washing machines in terms of service and product features, then that is what the critical questions in the questionnaire should measure. The validity of questions on a questionnaire can be checked by comparing it with previously used items (questions) measuring the same thing, and also trying out different questions to find out which one seems to measure what we intended to measure. A certain amount of judgment which comes with experience is of great help in framing "valid" questions. It is also possible to consult experts in research methodology, or the subject on hand to check that a given set of questions is "valid

Questionnaire design is an art, but there are certain common sense rules that can help, as we have discussed. Scales to be used should be decided on by the researcher in consultation with the study sponsor, keeping in mind the kind of output formats or tables required for decision making. Validity and reliability issues are of particular importance if the subject of the study is new or the researcher is inexperienced. Practice with designing questionnaires is the best way to perfect the art. Please do test the questionnaire on a small sample, and modify it if necessary, before going full steam ahead.