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Market Research Methodology in China

When starting a project, the first crucial step is to search for any available information that is applicable to the effort. Secondary data may be a study, a group of articles on a topic, or demographic or statistical data, and our internal research that incorporates a research project's previous findings. A secondary research review can help to provide preliminary answers to questions about the scope of the research, previous attempts to address the problem, who the probable target audience is, who the "competition" is and information about the potential market.


Although secondary research is usually the least expensive type of research and may have the easiest access, it may be less reliable than primary research as the information obtained was not developed with any particular problem or specific market in mind. We will carry out various methods according to our clients’ requirements, purpose of market research and characteristics of the selected market object.


There are mainly two kind of research method: qualitative market research and quantitative market research.


Qualitative Market Research


1. Focus group


A focus group consists of about 6 to 10 people who strongly represents the target audience are selected to be monitored in a room which will be fitted with a unidirectional mirror. Under an experienced coordinator’s direction, the subjects will discuss issues about consumers’ needs and demands. The coordinator would observe and evaluate the psychology and behavior of the test subjects. This will help us to understand consumption pattern and hence set the foundation for future quantitative research.


Conducting focus groups is a good way to uncover new information that cannot be obtained through other research methods, we speak the language, understand the culture and have the communication modus operandi for optimum results for you. Furthermore we will be able to find out how to market your product in China by uncovering consumers’ preferences, understanding their brand awareness and their perspective towards the usefulness of your product.


2. In-depth interview


An un-structured interview allows the researcher (or executive interviewer) to explore issues in detailed. In the process, an experienced interviewer will develop a deep understanding of the subjects through certain questions. By observing their facial expressions and body languages, the interviewer would be able evaluate the responses given. In-depth interviews are often an initial part of the market research process as they allow the researcher to have a deeper understanding of their target audience before planning any marketing strategies.


3. Delphi technique


In this method, we will constantly seek experts’ opinions through objective analysis. Initially, we will invite and seek the different opinions of industries’ experts. Thereafter, we will present the feedback to our team of expert for evaluation. This process will be repeated until constructive opinion has been obtained. According to different demand of different topics, the Delphi technique will be applied for about 3-4 turns.


4. Projection technique


As projection technique method is more indirect and unstructured, respondents may feel more comfortable in the process. This method does not entail the interviewee to explain their consumption pattern but the behavior of other consumers. By responding towards other consumers’ behavior, the subjects will be giving out their own response. This includes the association technique, the completion technique, the structure technique and the performance technique.


Quantitative Market Research


1. Phone survey


Telephone is the main medium which data are collected. Interviewers carry out their work in a fixed time atone location. Phone survey is only suitable for simple surveys where the session will not last more than 10mins. Carrying out a long survey on the phone would bore the respondents and thus resulting in a low response rate. Phone surveys do not require high operating costs and they reduce discomfort when interviewees are facing unfamiliar places There are basically two types of phone surveys: the traditional and the computer aided.


*  Traditional phone survey


The traditional phone survey method would only require the use of a normal telephone, a printer and a pen. A well trained surveyor will use a dialing method, a questionnaire and some filters to select their targeted interviewees. Thereafter, the answers to the questionnaire will be recorded down.


*  Computer aided phone survey


Computer aided phone survey requires the use of an electronically designed questionnaire. The interviewee will be asked in a procedure fixed by the computer. With the aid of a computer, the surveyor would take down the responses by using codes to represent certain responses. For eg. ‘Y’ indicates yes and “N” to indicate negative response.

2. Face to face interview


Face to face interview requires the surveyor to have direct interaction with his subject. This will include door to door, interception and the mysterious type.


*  Door to door


After selecting their target audience, field workers will carry out the surveys by going door to door to their interviewee’s residence.  Thus, the interviewees and field workers are in direct contact with one another. Although this method is random in nature, the surveyor will still have a set of rules to follow. With this direct contact, surveyors can observe the attitudes and facial expressions when the subject answers the questions. This stringent sampling method can also ensure the sample representation to be more accurate and hence obtaining a more effective response rate. The surveyor will have to attempt to clarify with the interviewees at the point in time if the answers do not tally with the questions. The surveyor can also get the answers to open-ended questions.


*  Interception method


There are basically two ways in which this can be carried out. (i) The surveyor will stay in a designated area and according to certain procedures; they have to gain the interviewee's consent before proceeding with the survey. (ii) The surveyor will rent a place with heavy pedestrian flow i.e. shopping malls, and based on the research requirements; they may even have to place certain products for the interviewees to feel and see the product. After gaining the interviewee's consent, they can proceed with the interview. The advantage of this method in market research lies in its efficiency, accuracy and quality of the survey which can be controlled by the surveyor and it saves on sampling time and expenses.


*  Mystery customer


The mystery customer technique is an observational methodology where the field researcher would assume the role of a customer unbeknownst to customer service staff in order to collect data on the "customer experience". Customer service personnel would not be aware that their behaviour is being monitored. The data collected would be error-free compared to those that occur in self-report or traditional surveys as they are unable to observe behaviour as directly or rely on secondary accounts and self report. Mystery customer surveys are common in service industries such as fast food franchises, hotels and airlines as a staff training and performance appraisal method.


3. Mail survey


In a mail survey, the questions will be mailed to prospective respondents. The respondents would have to fill them out on their own and returned to the field workers by mail. There are basically two ways in which this could be done: the retained questionnaire survey and fixed sampling survey.


*  Returned questionnaire survey


The surveyor will go door to door and give a brief explanation of their purpose. They will then leave the questionnaire with the interviewees and collect the questionnaire back either by on a pre-agreed date or providing them with postal envelopes. By facing the interviewees directly, the interviewees can clarify any doubts when presented with the questionnaire by the fieldworker. This will result in a high return rate as there is sufficient time for participants to ponder over the questions and not be influenced by the surveyors.


*  Fixed sampling survey


In this method, an area or the whole nation will be sampled. After getting the consent from the participating household, the company will arrange for the questionnaire to be mailed to them regularly. In order to prevent the sample from getting outdated, constant adjustments to the samplings will have to be made. As the scope or area covered will be sufficiently large, the sampling will not be limited by the area and the sample size will be larger compared to other research methods. Thus for market research, this would be an efficient method.




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