Ho creato questo blog per parlare di sociologia e ricerche di mercato, "fare ricerca sul campo" e condividere opinioni e professionalità.
I have done this blog in order to speak about sociology and market research, to do survey and share opinions and skills about this topic.


International Surveys 1. THE CONCEPT TEST Concept testing is the attempt to predict the success of a new product idea using qualitative methods to evaluate consumer response prior to the introduction of a product to the market. These methods involve getting people’s reactions to a statement describing the basic idea of the product that have innovative rational or non-rational benefits. It not only gives promising ideas a fighting chance, it provides guidance for the communication of benefits, uses, packaging, advertising, sales approaches, product information, distribution, and pricing. Usually the concept test is performed using field surveys, personal interviews and focus groups to generate and evaluate product concepts. 2. FACTORS AFFECTING SAMPLING AND DATA COLLECTION There are several distortions during the data collection in a concept test developed, in particular using focus group or personal interview[i] 1) Bias related to the researcher:: by distributing its questionnaire, the researcher can give to the respondent various clues on the expected answer and this contains a risk to influence the respondent, besides researchers themselves vary in what they observe or measure (observer variability), for example, researchers may be selective in their observations (observer bias); measure, question or note down answers with varying accuracy or follow different approaches (one being more open, friendly, probing than the other). 2) Bias related to the non-respondent and the undecided. It is not possible to ignore who do not answer because they have precise characteristics. It is a good way in order to develop the survey in a right way to identify these people, comparing the characteristics of those who do not answered some questions with the characteristics of those who answered all the questionnaire , so the researcher can understand if some groups (age, salary, sex, schooling ...) tend to answer in a different way. 3) Bias related to the respondent. Everyone who answers a survey will tend to give a positive image of itself trying to give the “good answer” influenced by what is socially desirable or acceptable. This bias can, partially, be circumvented by clearly specify the procedures of confidentiality of the survey. A similar problem is also possible if the respondent considers that subject is too trivial, in fact he might not make the effort to answer seriously. In this case the answer will rather be some general ones with no specific relation with the opinion of the respondent. 4) Bias related to the sample. A sample should be a scaled model of the population from which you seek data but the sample can contain some distortions: undercoverage, overcoverage, and multiplicity. The undercoverage is the failure to include all units belonging to the defined population in the frame, the overcoverage as a failure of the frame resulting from inclusion of elements that are not part of the target population, and multiplicity as multiple frame units linking to the same sampling unit in the population. To identify people, who are not in the sample, is possible to compare the characteristics of the respondents with statistical data from a reliable source. In this way is possible to discover if some parts of the population (age, salary, sex, schooling) are not represented in the good proportions. 5) Bias related with the structure of a questionnaire. The structure of a questionnaire must be planed with care. A questionnaire can be seen as a "thinking sequence" in which the respondent should engage himself. This sequence must give the respondent a feeling of continuity without suggests answers to the respondent. Another problem ca be the use of unstandardised measuring instruments. For example, we may use unstandardised weighing scales or imprecise or no guidelines for interviewing. 6) Bias related with the choices of answers and with the goal of the questions. In this case we will have a poor quality of gathered data. 7) Bias related to the method of research. Another place where a source of errors can show up, arise from the research method used in particular in a concept test when a researcher is engaged in a procedure of interviews. This method often implies a strong interaction between the researcher and the respondent. So, there is a possibility that the exchanges of information might take the researcher out of his frame of search and because of this interaction, the researcher can be brought to ask some questions in a different fashion from a respondent to another. Then it might be difficult to compare the answers. Solution to this problem lies in the follow-up of a rigorous plan of interview. So, the researcher is enable to track down the elements which can lead the searcher away from its target. 3. INTERNATIONAL CONCEPT TEST GUIDELINE : USA, Germany, Venezuela The survey implementation is a key element that determines whether survey data is of a good quality or not. Each step should be planned and reviewed carefully in order to get a better quality. A plan for data collection should be developed so that there is a clear overview of what tasks have to be carried out, who should perform them, and the duration of these tasks and human and material resources for data collection should be organized in the most efficient way. 3.1 The first step: to understand the market The market for soft drinks differs distinctly between the different countries: for example there is a different level of consumption in litres per year and new drink concepts are still underrepresented in Eastern Europe until now but new drink concepts are constantly in demand in saturated markets. There are also different trends based on the combination of convenient package with the desired added benefit in the drink like for example drinks with an added health benefit, innovative value added ingredients or new packaging that support a life-style etc. Some drinks may be important sources of nutrients or other components for certain population subgroups (for example, young children and pregnant women, people that doing sport) but may not be important in the diets of the general public. Therefore, accurate data for representative samples are required and the sampling plans could be developed to provide analytical data to assess the levels of copper intake by specific groups or individuals. Important is also investigate the physical product and the subjective image of the product, which benefits consumers are looking for and these must be conveyed in the total product package. Physical characteristics include range, shape, size, colour, quality, quantity and compatibility. Subjective attributes are determined by advertising, self image, labelling and packaging. In manufacturing or selling produce, cognisance has to be taken of cost and country legal requirements. [ii] 3.2 The second step: to consider the special problems in international marketing research Multiple markets need to be considered each with unique characteristics, availability of data and research services. Methodological difficulties may be encountered like nuances of language, interpretation. In a country like Venezuela is possible to have difficulty of fieldwork supervision, cheating, data analysis difficulties (lack of computer technology) and is possible to find infrastructure difficulties - lack of telephones, roads, transport, respondent locations besides there are always cultural difficulties - reluctance to talk to strangers, inability to talk to women or children (for example in some specific sub-groups), legal constraints on data collection/transmission. The two most important modes of scanning are surveillance and search, each giving data of a general or specific kind, invaluable to the strategy formulation process even if in all decisions whether to obtain data or not, costs versus benefits have to be considered carefully. Factors that should be considerate: Differing usage conditions: climate, skills, level of literacy, culture or physical conditions. For example Venezuela is a country that all year has a very warm whether, Germany is a cold country where people has a strong habit to drink beer like a soft drink, USA are very large with very different climates conditions and several subgroup and religions (Chineses, Hispanics, Irelands etc..) General market factors - incomes, tastes etc. Some things may be very affordable in some countries and not in others. Government - taxation, import quotas, non tariff barriers, labelling, health requirements. History. Sometimes, as a result of the history change the local conditions. Financial considerations. In order to maximise sales or profits the organisation may have no choice but to adapt its products to local conditions. Pressure. Sometimes, as in the case of the EU (Germany), suppliers are forced to adapt to the rules and regulations imposed on them if they wish to enter into the market. Product packaging, labelling, physical characteristics and marketing have to adapt to the cultural requirements when necessary. Religion, values, aesthetics, language and material culture all affect production decisions. 3.3 The third step: to select the sample Select a good sample is very important to use face to face interview. It is important to avoid using multiple frames, whenever possible and is important when the survey is developed in different countries use the same frame for surveys with the same target population. A source of data distortion is for example the duplication of the data in the frame and the no updating for births, deaths and out-of scope units and in general the level of quality of the frame. In order to assure the quality of data collected is important to develop some stage in the data collection process Chose the appropriate season(s) to conduct the field work (if the problem is season-related or if data collection would be difficult during certain periods) Verify the accessibility and availability of the sampled population, and public holidays and vacation periods in each country. Train research assistants carefully in all topics covered in the field work manual as well as in interview techniques and make sure that all members of the research team master interview techniques such as: asking questions in a neutral manner; not showing by words or expression what answers one expects, not showing agreement, disagreement or surprise; and recording the answers precisely as they are provided, without sifting or interpreting them. Develop a pre-test research instruments and research procedures with the whole research team, including research assistants Arrange for on-going supervision of research assistants. If, in case of a larger survey, special supervisors have to be appointed, guidelines should be developed for supervisory tasks. The sample should target the de facto population (that is to say, all people living in that country including guest workers and immigrants) and not the de jure population (the citizens of that country alone). It is important to create good representation as the "miniature" of the country’s overall population and have a full geographical coverage. The size of the sample must be adequate to provide good (robust) estimates of the quantities of interest at national or sub national levels depending on the objectives of the survey. For various purposes, it may be required to have adequate representation of minorities (for example, ethnic or other subgroups) which may require oversampling (that is to say, giving a higher probability of selection). In case of oversampling, differential weighting at the data analysis stage should be applied to correct the distortion caused by oversampling; A sampling frame with 90 per cent coverage of all key subgroups of interest is considered acceptable. It is better use the most recent sampling frame available.[iii] The possible impact of variations of specific definitions in different countries (like for example “household” or “manager” or “sportive people”) on sampling should be elaborated in country reports. It is very important to identify the use of the specific definitions in different countries and to understand if there are differences. Use of strict probability methods every stage of sampling is crucial, and makes it possible to extrapolate the sample data to the whole population. Otherwise, the survey results will not be representative and valid 3.4 The fourth step: to organize the survey If the survey is developed in different countries a good and strong central organization of the survey in each country will help ensure quality. The purpose of establishing standard procedures is to help ensure that the data collection is relevant and meaningful for the country’s needs and that the data can be compared within a country and across countries to identify the similarities and differences across populations. Each survey team should prepare a central survey implementation plan and a task calendar in which the details of the survey logistics are laid out clearly. This plan should identify how many focus groups and face to face interviews are needed to cover an identified portion of the sample in a given region. Each survey team should have a supervisor who oversees and coordinates the work of the interviewers, as well as provides on-site training and support. Supervisors should set out the daily work at the beginning of the workday with the interviewers and review the results at the end of the day. In this review, interviewers will brief their supervisors about their interviews and results. A daily logbook should be kept to monitor the progress of the survey work in every country survey centre. Information must be maintained on each interviewer so that his/her work can be monitored by the supervisor on an ongoing basis. In each country should be conduct a pilot survey at the beginning of the survey period, which should last a week or two. The pilot should be used as a dress rehearsal for the main survey. Fifty per cent of the pilot sample would then be reinterviewed by another interviewer to demonstrate the stability of application of the interview. The data from the pilot should be rapidly analysed to identify any particular implementation problems. Since the instrument to be used in the survey would already have undergone extensive pre-testing prior to the pilot, the intention of the pilot testing should be to identify minor linguistic and feasibility issues and enable better planning for the main phase. It would also be expected to identify some obvious particular mistakes in skip patterns, etc. in the survey. Feedback from the pilot will correct these errors and allow for minor adjustments to be made. All countries should send a copy of the printed documents. Response rates should be monitored continuously and each centre should employ a combination of various strategies to increase participation in the survey and reduce non-response. The response rate may vary across countries and has to be compared with that of other surveys in the same country. Local customs and traditions must be taken into account in the evaluation. Each survey should be evaluated within the context of the country. It is essential to compare with other comparable surveys in the same country.[iv] 3.5 The fifth step: to write the concept statement and the questionnaire It is very important don’t make the statement just a straightforward “objective” description of the features of the product and also don’t make the statement too “salesy.” Instead, a balance must be struck between a dry spec sheet and a slick brochure. It is important starting with a brief description of the present situation, in words the target audience uses. It is usually best to describe the concept as a solution to a problem. Then, continue with the product description in benefit terms. Then describe the product itself, and how the product’s claims will be substantiated. In this step is very important to pay attention that in different countries there are different mentalities and decision-making processes. When we cross some data, in an exploratory analysis, trying to verify if there are some differences in the perception of the decision-making process in different countries we can se how for example in USA people take their decisions more individually than collectively instead in Venezuela people make their decisions more collectively than individually.[v] To make meaningful comparisons of data across cultures is important to have a relevant instrument that measures the same construct in different countries so the translation is one of the key features of ensuring the equivalent versions of questions in different languages. Given the multicultural societies it is essential that we have good translations that measure the same concepts in the survey. In a country like USA, the instrument could be translated into multiple languages depending on the size of the different language groups within the country. Each linguistic group that constitutes over 5 per cent of the population should be interviewed in its own language. For respondents who are interviewed in a language for which a formal translated version has not been produced, emphasis is placed on the understanding of key concepts. Important is the maintaining the equivalence of concepts and ensure a procedure that identifies possible pitfalls and avoids distortion of the meaning. These guidelines stress that: a) translation should aim to produce a locally understandable questionnaire b) the original intent of the questions should be translated with the best possible equivalent terms in the local language c) question-by-question specifications should aim to convey the original meaning of the questions and pre-coded response options d) the questionnaire should first be translated by experts who have a basic understanding of the key concepts of the subject-matter content. A set of selected key terms and those that proved to be problematic during the first direct translation should be back-translated by linguistic experts who would then comment on all the possible interpretations of the terms and suggest alternatives. It is mandatory to translate all the documents (namely, question-by-question specifications, the survey manual and training manuals) into the local language. Each country should submit a report on the quality of the translation work at the end of the pilot phase. For items that were found to be particularly difficult to translate, specific linguistic evaluation forms should be requested that describe the nature of difficulty of translation. 4. CONCLUSION It is extremely difficult to be exhaustive in enumerating problems which can have an influence on the precision of the results of a international study. The qualitative methods present a particular risks because of the interaction between the researcher and respondent, but quantitative studies are not free of any problem. The stakes in the structure of a questionnaire are sufficient to derails the results of a study. Developing a concept test is important that the concept statement have to be written and rewritten, for successive groups, continually taking into account what has been learned before in order to elicit qualms, objections and concerns as well as praise, new uses and new ways of describing it. Is very important consider cultural differences and local characteristics. Counted words : 3.076 [i] Kalsbeek, D. Virginia M. Lesser , “Non sampling error considerations in environmental surveys”, (Oregon St. Univ, , Univ. of N.C.) [ii] Andrea Hassol , Brenda Rodriguez (2004) “Survey Completion Rates and Resource Use at Each Step of a Dillman-Style Multi-Modal Survey” , (Cambridge Univ) [iii] Abdelhay Mechbal and Christopher J.L. Murray, Somnath Chatterji, T. Bedirhan Üstun, ( 2002), “The World Health Survey (WHS) quality standards and assurance procedures” Geneva, Switzerland [iv] Üstün, T.B. and others (2001). Disability and Culture; Universalism and Diversity. Göttingen, Germany [v] Freitas , H. Jenkins, M. Moscarola, J, Zanela ,A. (1998) “A survey research design to better know the decision-makers, first results: inside & outside The USA. Bled, Eslovênia Social”, (Organizational and Cross-cultural Issues Surrounding EC, 8-10 Junho)

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