Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Phrase Consumer Survey Questions Carefully

Ask the question in the wrong way, and you’ll get misleading answers. Here’s a consumer survey case in point: A recent Advertising Age article reported that about 51% of U.S. men say they are the primary grocery shoppers in their households. The source was a study sponsored by Yahoo in which 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64 were interviewed. The Advertising Age article used the Yahoo finding to make a case for grocery retailers steering their advertising toward the particular psyches of male consumers.
     There’s nothing wrong with advertising to men. You do want to recalibrate for shopper gender trends. And in the U.S., at least, it’s likely that husbands will be doing more of the shopping than in the past. The logic is reflected in an analysis conducted at University of New Hampshire:
     During the U.S. economic downturn, husbands were more likely to lose their jobs than were wives, and now, husbands are encountering more difficulty than wives in finding employment. As a result, a higher percentage of wives than in the past are finding it necessary, in order to pay the bills, to enter the labor force or to expand their work hours. They’d prefer to be home more with family, but that’s not feasible. One likely consequence of this is that more household responsibilities, including shopping, are being handled by the husbands.
     But is it true now that 51% of the grocery shopping is being done by men? That’s important to know because a retailer’s advertising budget has limits and because the two genders often process marketing messages differently. Steering more of your advertising toward the male psyche would mean steering more of it away from the female psyche. Is a 51%/49% split about right?
     Maybe not. Further on down in the same Advertising Age article is a note that Saatchi & Saatchi X says 35%, not 51%, of grocery and mass-merchandise shoppers are men. What’s going on?
     It’s in how the question is asked. The Yahoo survey item asked who did most of the shopping. It omitted the alternative of shared responsibility. When The Future Company’s Yankelovich MONITOR asked about the matter differently, 34% of men ages 18 to 64 said they have primary responsibility, and 52% said they have shared responsibility.
     In creating your consumer survey questions or approving a vendor’s questionnaire, check that the phrasing allows for the full range of possibilities.

Click below for more:
Recalibrate for Shopper Gender Trends
Survey Consumers Person-to-Person
Interpret Survey Results as a Retailer
Use Consumer Attitude Survey Findings

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