One of the basic tenets of effective marketing is knowing your target market.  That principle is no less important, and may be even more so, when designing effective market research.  Whether your goal is to encourage people to use your product or service or to encourage them to participate in your study, knowing what motivates them is vitally important to the success of your efforts.

In some cases, the differences between your own perceptions and those of your audience may be easily identifiable.  Early last year, for example, Corona was asked to conduct a survey of blind and visually impaired residents of Colorado.  It was fairly easy for us to understand that a traditional paper surveying approach would be difficult with this audience.

In other cases, though, the differences may be much more nuanced.  For a recent project, we conducted intercept surveys with Hispanic workers at a variety of retail locations.  One of our typical practices in intercept surveys is to provide a small incentive of a dollar or two to encourage participation.  However, in this case providing a monetary incentive would be seen as charity.  In our test runs we quickly confirmed this as respondents were refusing to take the incentives!  In the Hispanic culture, family members take care of each other in times of need, so accepting charity from an outsider could be seen as a sign of weakness.

So before you sit down and start cranking out a design for your research, take a step back and ask yourself how your audience is different from yourself.  How will they react to a certain approach?  Are there certain words or phrases that will draw out different responses?  What can you do to make sure that each of your research questions are perceived the same way by every respondent?  And no matter what, always test your approach with a few respondents to make sure you didn’t miss anything!

Knowing your audience up front can save you a lot of trouble in the end and will lead to much more powerful results.