Equinox Advisory offers a holistic market research service starting from survey design and scientific sampling, all the way to collecting the data and analysing it.
Unlike many of its competitors, Equinox understands the importance of research design and does not use sampling strategies blindly without understanding the underpinnings of such strategies. Indeed, most of our competitors use what they call a “rule of thumb” to advise their clients that a sample size of 400 respondents would invariably be enough to provide adequate coverage of an entire population irrespective of size. Although this holds true for dichotomous variables, non-dichotomous variables require a different sample size as the logic behind the derivation of the 400 respondent sample size no longer applies.
In today’s world it is generally acknowledged that market research can give those who undertake it the competitive edge they need to be able to survive in increasingly competitive markets.
While it is undeniably true that market research and surveys come at a cost, it is also true that such cost is usually low in relation to the rest of the marketing expense and failure to undertake market research before undertaking any other initiatives is usually akin to building a costly edifice on shaky foundations.
Researching potential markets can help your organisation by:
- Finding where your products are most likely to sell;
- Identifying market segments and niches;
- Identifying any shortfalls in the delivery of your service or within the product you sell;
- Determining both domestic and international competitors and their strengths in relation to yours;
- Discovering how to overcome barriers to market entry;
- Understanding customers’ needs;
- Identifying new trends;
- Establishing the best ways of segmenting your addressable market segments;
- Establishing optimal market prices for your products in different market segments;
- Letting you know anything that you need to know in order for you to be able to make informed decisions;
- Assessing non-market costs and benefits (e.g. through contingent valuation method or multi-criteria analysis);
- Determining Willingness To Pay (WTP) and Willingness To Accept (WTA) values;
- Gauging the pulse of the general public on specific commercial, societal and economic issues.
The Market Research Team at Equinox has, through thorough training and on-the-field experience, amassed a wealth of experience that enables Equinox to give you the market research solution that is most likely to work for you.
The Market Research Team is very well-disposed to work with clients and usually works hand in hand with the client to:
- Assess the client’s needs;
- Tailor an approach to gauge what the client needs to know;
- Undertake the research by implementing the tailored approach;
- Present findings either internally or externally through press releases and public relations activities.
Equinox’s setup enables it to undertake five different types of market research, each of which is presented hereafter. Usually more than one type of market research is undertaken simultaneously in trying to attain the study objectives.
As the name implies, telephone surveys are surveys conducted over the phone.
These are ideal for cases where the desired sample consists of the general population at large but can also be deployed for samples drawn from that population.
This method is especially useful where questions that have to ensure minimum rapport between interviewer and interviewee need to be asked, or where questions do not require face-to-face contact and behavioural appraisal. This method is cost-effective and allows for a vast geographical outreach in a short period of time since there is no need for the interviewer to commute physically in order to administer the interview.
Since sales calls are sometimes masqueraded as “research” calls, higher call screening and lower respondent contact rates could be a possibility, even though our surveyors are trained to do everything possible to minimise these occurrences.
Equinox’s telephone surveys take place within the typical calling window of 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Web surveys are surveys undertaken over the Internet. On the front-end, a web service that displays in an Internet browser presents the interviewee with the survey and on the back-end all responses are recorded and automatically transcribed onto a database engine that allows for easier analysis.
Web surveys present a novel way of researching the market but they also present new challenges.
The advantages of Web surveying include:
- a faster response rate;
- the ease with which reminders can be sent to participants;
- the ease of processing data (since responses could be downloaded to a spreadsheet, data analysis package, or a database);
- dynamic error checking capability;
- the option of putting questions in random order;
- the ability to make complex skip pattern questions easier to follow;
- the inclusion of pop-up instructions for selected questions;
- the use of drop-down boxes;
- the possibility of collecting interviewee metadata
This type of survey also has its limitations which Equinox ascertains that its clients are well-aware of. Among other things, the sample in a Web survey is not usually a really random sample unless one is interested in the online community itself as the relevant population, and there is no method for selecting random samples from general e-mail addresses.
Web-based surveys have proved to be most successful in the area of customer satisfaction surveys. Since each survey has peculiarities of its own that necessitate being taken care of, Equinox strives to customise web surveys to its clients’ needs.
Face-To-Face surveys are probably one of the most time-consuming and expensive ways of eliciting feedback from people, but they confer a number of advantages over other survey methods. This is sometimes also the only option to elicit feedback from certain types of respondents (e.g. at visitor attractions).
Face-to-face surveys may be conducted:
- in households;
- on the street;
- at a central location ;
- randomly or sequentially in an area; and/or
- at other specific locations as and when required
Face-to-face surveys have the highest response rate among all methods. They enable longer and more complex interviewing and permit the use of surveying accessories (brochures, pictures, samples, etc.).
On the downside, face-to-face surveys are relatively slow in comparison to telephone or web surveys and, because it allows for partiality by the interviewer, it is essential to have a well-established methodology and a well-trained workforce for the job.
Equinox surveyors have all undergone intensive training to be able to administer these surveys in a professional, pleasant and proficient manner.
A focus group is a qualitative research method in which a group of people is asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, or idea. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members and following an ice breaking session intended to motivate and facilitate participation, interaction and intervention by group members.
Preparing for a focus group entails the choice of participants, preparations for the session, the development of questions, the planning of the session, session facilitation, and session follow up.
Equinox has, through the years, honed its methodology and ascertains that it keeps its methodology abreast of academic developments and experience.
The starting point is always the identification of the major objectives of the focus group, which Equinox undertakes in conjunction with the client. This provides the basis for the selection of the people and the development of the questions, and allows for a session planning exercise to be undertaken.
Different focus group setups are possible and the particular setup indicated for a specific focus group will depend on a number of variables that Equinox takes into account when discussing the objectives with the client and when planning the session with a view to attaining those objectives.
Expert opinion is sometimes necessary in forecasting, especially when operating in an environment characterised by lack of appropriate or available information for the employment of statistical procedures and routines exists.
The Delphi Group is a technique whereby a panel of selected individuals is consulted in order to access expert opinion on a subject. The panel might, for example, be asked to come up with future scenarios for a product field, or an area of everyday life, or speculate about the future pattern of business in general.
To elicit the best forecast from experts, Equinox has adopted a solution using Delphi group techniques for eliciting and combining expert judgments.
Among other things, Equinox, in consultation with the client, tries to determine:
- how many and what type of experts to use;
- how many rounds to use;
- what type of feedback to employ;
- how to summarize the final forecast and how to weight the responses;
- how to word questions in a manner that is free of emotive terms and irrelevant information; and
- what response modes (e.g. frequencies, probabilities, etc.) to use.
Our experience suggests that Delphi groups are substantially more accurate than individual experts and traditional groups, and somewhat more accurate than statistical groups (which are made up of non-interacting individuals whose judgments are aggregated). Academic studies corroborate our experience.
Mail surveying is a research method whereby we design the questionnaire according to the client’s objectives and subsequently send it to a number of respondents by mail (or, in rare cases and if appropriate, by email). It is very convenient for samples where the addresses are known (especially if email distribution list are being used). It is cheaper than some other methods and therefore convenient also for bigger samples, more comprehensive surveys and broader geographical ranges.
On the other hand, its chief disadvantage is the low response rate, for which it is sometimes suggested that a lottery or some other form of compensation be given, although this needs to be done meticulously as it can bias the results; the long-duration to collect the data, again mitigated by the use of deadlines for any lotteries or compensations; and mistakes that originate from possibly low quality address lists. It is also not known who actually completed the questionnaire unless these rae numbered or individualised and, from experience, there is usually a lot of missing or incomplete answers. Mail surveys are usually inconvenient for complex questions, because one cannot control the correct answering order and there are no possibilities for additional explanations and sub-questions.
Sometimes Equinox uses mail surveys in combination with other research methods, usually telephone surveys where respondents are first surveyed by mail and those who fail to reply to the mail survey or who answered incompletely are subsequently surveyed by telephone.