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Research Methodologies

Focus Groups

What are Focus Groups?

A focus group is 8 to 12 people with defined characteristics gathering together for a discussion on a certain issue, led by a trained moderator. This method works well for companies in the fact-finding stage, for generating ideas, and for evaluating products or concepts that need to be experienced or discussed. The information gathered is qualitative and not representative of the entire population. Proper sample definition and selection is critical.

Client Introduction to Focus Groups

Participant Introduction to Focus Groups

Site Locations

On-site

Great Lakes Marketing’s new offices contain a brand new, state-of-the-art focus group facility and viewing area. All focus groups are videotaped, and video and audio copies can be provided to you in DVD format if desired.

Our focus group facility also allows for remote viewing of our focus groups live from anywhere in the world. We also offer video streaming through FocusVision to allow clients to view the focus groups live when they cannot travel. If you are interested in this service, it can be arranged by contacting our office, or you can call FocusVision directly at 1-800-433-8128 (North and South America) or +44 1892 521075 (Europe, Middle East, Africa or Asia).

We also have a trained and experienced focus group moderator available, or you are welcome to provide your own group moderator. Meals and snacks can be catered for respondents and observers.

Check out our new facilities on Executive Parkway.

Off-site

Our staff can arrange focus groups to take place in the cities of your choice. Our moderator has facilitated off-site focus groups around the country with great success.

Recruiting

Recruiting can be done by our central location interviewing staff for both on-site or off-site focus groups. Our interviewers are experienced with both nationwide and local recruiting on any topic. All respondents that we recruit will receive follow-up contact to ensure an adequate show rate.

Geographical Distance from GLM

Primary Recruiting (Service) Area

Secondary Recruiting (Service) Area

Online Surveys

What are Online Surveys?

Online surveys are one of the fastest, most efficient vehicles to gather information and can be used in a variety of scenarios.  This method of data collection is becoming more popular as computer literacy and accessibility grows among a broader range of demographics and is now considered a viable, effective, and often a lower cost method for accessing respondents for some research.  Sample sizes for online surveys can vary anywhere between 150 and 8000, depending on respondent availability and desired uncertainty.  Great Lakes Marketing can write, program, launch, and administer an online survey, then collect, analyze, and present the data in a full report.

How does it work?

Based on the established objectives of the survey, our team of experienced researchers will assist in creating a questionnaire.  Online surveys consist of close-ended questions (multiple choice), open-ended questions (short answer), or a combination of both.  When the survey is finalized and programmed, a unique web address is sent to respondents.  Depending on the survey, respondents may be members of AskToledo.com, representatives of a client’s sample list of customers, or a rented panel who meet the desired demographic criteria.  We monitor the results as they come in to ensure that the survey is representative of the target demographic.  We close the survey link after enough people have participated, and then analyze, interpret, and compile the data into a report.

How are Online Surveys used?

Online surveys can be used for:

  • Pulse Surveys
  • Obtaining data from a large sample
  • Reaching respondents in multiple geographic locations
  • Lower cost research

Mystery Shopping

What is Mystery Shopping?

In order for a company to evaluate its progression in terms of customer service, employee performance and customer satisfaction, mystery shopping is an ideal format to accomplish internal quality control and to give insight to the company from an outsider’s perspective. Mystery shopping can be done in any type of industry through highly customized scripts, surveys or scenarios. We help you create a comprehensive evaluation to meet your needs, which you can modify on demand, and we use trained interviewers to “shop” as anonymous customers in order to evaluate your company’s performance as objectively as possible. This process usually takes between a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the industry and intention of the client, in order to gain both positive and negative feedback.

How does it work?

As it is in all types of research, identifying a clear research objective is the crucial first step.  Keeping your objectives in mind, we write a questionnaire and determine the number of mystery shops to be conducted.  Once the script and questionnaire are finalized, they are reviewed in detail with the interviewers who will be conducting the mystery shop.   Depending on the study objectives, mystery shops can be can be conducted either on-site or over the phone.

What questions can Mystery Shopping answer?

  • Is our company providing quality customer service?
  • Does employee performance meet our standards?
  • Are our sales strategies effective?
  • What is it that keeps our customers coming back or drives them away?
  • How can we differentiate our company from the competition?

Additionally, conducting multiple waves of mystery shops at different times can be a great way to evaluate if your customer service or sales strategies are improving.

Executive Interviews

What are Executive Interviews?

Executive Interviews allows for the collection of precise, detailed information by engaging in rich one-on-one discussion with hard-to-reach respondents over the phone or in person. Results generated from this type of research allow clients to better understand the way they are perceived in both the consumer and business marketplaces. GLM’s executive-level researchers are expertly trained in essential interviewing skills, enabling them to initiate meaningful conversation with key constituents and learn essential insights that are usable, informative, and meet your needs.

How does it work?           

Conducting a successful Executive Interview starts with clearly defined research objectives, after which our team is able to work with the client to design an effective questionnaire and determine feasible method of contact.  Because respondents at the executive level can be difficult to reach, we typically suggest a questionnaire that can be administered over the phone.  Respondents are recruited and scheduled for interviews in advance, giving them time to prepare for the subject that will be discussed.  All executive interviews are recorded and transcribed for data analysis, the results of which are used to create a comprehensive report and recommendations for your decision-making.

What questions can Executive Interviews answer?

  • What are our greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Which members of our organization have been the most effective leaders?
  • Who are our peers/competitors in the marketplace?
  • How can our business practices be improved?

In-Depth Interviews

What are In-Depth Interviews?

In-Depth Interviews are conducted by trained researchers and are used in research that is descriptive in nature and requires the use of visual aids (e.g., photos, written instructions, product packages, etc.).

With proper screening and efficient scheduling, these interviews provide quality information from respondents that meet specific demographic criteria.  Depending on the sample, In-Depth Interviews are conducted GLM’s Toledo facility; studies that include samples from other locations are conducted at a specified facility.

Our data collection procedures include a full range of quality control measures to ensure detailed briefings, accurate sampling plans, and valid response capturing.

GLM also offers live viewing for clients through www.ViewToledo.com and digital copies of all audio and video recordings.

How does it work?

Based on the established objectives of the survey, our team of experienced researchers will assist in creating a questionnaire and determining an appropriate sample size for the study.  Depending on the survey, respondents may be members of AskToledo.com, representatives of a client’s sample list of customers, or a rented panel who meet the desired demographic criteria.  From these lists, respondents are recruited (either by GLM or by the client) and scheduled for their interview.

All In-Depth Interviews are conducted by members of GLM’s team of experienced interviewers.  Each interview is video and audio recorded, and can be viewed live by the client in order to provide them the opportunity to make changes to the survey and monitor results firsthand.  When interviews are completed, the collected information is analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive report that captures the insights provided by the respondents.

What questions can In-Depth Interviews answer?

  • Are product instructions easily understood?
  • How can our product be improved?
  • Does the proposed ad campaign effectively communicate with consumers?
  • How likely are consumers to use this product?

Intercept Interviews

What are Intercept Interviews?

Intercept interviews are conducted with shoppers, attendees, or visitors of a public venue with specified characteristics.  This type of research works well when evaluating products or concepts that need to be experienced, when the concepts are complicated and visual stimulus helps, when several ideas or factors are prioritized or evaluated, and when the location draws a “hard-to-reach” group of people. Large samples can be very insightful, but are not totally representative of the entire population.  Intercepts are preferable over focus groups if individual opinions or evaluations are desired.

How does it work?

Interviewing stations can be established in malls, stores, expos, trade shows, or anywhere the target market can be found.  Our trained team of interviewers engage shoppers, attendees, or visitors who approach the interviewing station and ask them to participate in the personal interview.  Potential participants are randomly selected, and are only asked to complete the interview if they meet the desired demographic criteria.  Intercept interviews consist of both close-ended (multiple choice) and open-ended (short answer) questions.  The structure of the interviews allows the participant to expand on their responses and provide further insight on the topic being discussed.

Great Lakes Marketing has relationships with several regional shopping malls within about 150 miles of our offices. We also have relationships with field agencies across the United States who provide access to locations in nearly all major markets.

Intercept Interviews are ideal for:

  • Samples that can be, or should be, drawn from a central or specified location (i.e., shoppers at a particular store, purchasers of particular products, etc.)
  • Stimulus materials that need to be experienced rather than just viewed (i.e., touched, tasted, used, etc.)
  • Samples that are geographically concentrated (i.e., a local organization evaluating promotional materials)

Phone Surveys

What are Phone Surveys?

Phone Surveys are conducted by trained researchers and can be used in most research that is descriptive in nature and does not need visual aids. With proper sampling and callback attempts, telephone interviewing provides quality information from random samples.  Our data collection procedures include a full range of quality control measures to ensure detailed briefings, accurate sampling plans, and valid response capturing.  The phone operations are fully monitored with 100% digital verification.
Great Lakes Marketing uses telephone interviews:

  • When telephone numbers are available for the segment
  • When the survey questions require probing or logic checks and/or the information needed is too complex for online research
  • When the sample is not concentrated in one geographical area
  • When recordings of responses can be used to enhance the analysis or reporting of the findings

How does it work?

Based on the established objectives of the survey, our team of experienced researchers will assist in creating a questionnaire and determining an appropriate sample size for the study.  Phone Surveys consist of close-ended questions (multiple choice), open-ended questions (short answer), or a combination of both.  Depending on the survey, respondents may be members of AskToledo.com, representatives of a client’s sample list of customers, or a rented panel who meet the desired demographic criteria.

When the survey is finalized, our team of experienced interviews is briefed by the study’s project manager before call attempts begin in our onsite call center.  We monitor the results as the interviews are completed to ensure that the questionnaires are fully completed and are effective in gathering information.  Once the desired number of interviews has been reached, the results are entered into our Survey System database to produce numerical data that is then analyzed, interpreted, and compiled into a report.

What questions can a Phone Survey answer?

  • What are the needs of our target market/how have those needs changed?
  • Where is our business positioned in relation to competitors?
  • How can we improve our products/services?
  • How is our company perceived by consumers?
  • Was our most recent ad campaign successful?

Mail Surveys

What are Mail Surveys?

Mail surveys were considered to be less expensive than telephone interviews and were popular for a while. However, the increased postage costs, need for multiple mailings, postage paid returns, and other respondent incentives have made mail research more expensive than telephone research for many samples.
Mail research may be effective if the target audience is well defined and committed to the research, if respondents who are geographically dispersed must see or use products, and if the information is difficult to obtain.
Usually, successful mail studies are used in combination with other data collection techniques (i.e. as a follow-up to telephone or personal interviews).
Panels can be developed for repeated mail contacts and longitudinal or multi-wave research.
Great Lakes Marketing uses mailed, self-administered surveys:
• When Postal addresses are the most accurate contact information.
• When the respondents should be given high levels of privacy or anonymity (i.e., satisfaction studies for health care or financial services).
• When the population is very committed to the survey sponsor and will respond (i.e., association members, employees, etc.).

Great Lakes Marketing conducts mail studies for several organizations whose research objectives and sample definitions match the above criteria. For example, we send thousands of questionnaires to family members whose loved one is in a nursing home. We design the studies to maximize the response rate by having a visually appealing survey design, relevant cover letter, known return address, etc.

We also analyze data for other organizations who send or hand out surveys but do not have the ability to do the data processing, analysis and reporting.

Ethnographic Research

What is Ethnographic Research?

The primary goal of ethnographic research studies is to learn how customers interact with products in a realistic setting.

Great Lakes Marketing is pioneering several new research methodologies in the field of ethnographic research. For example, one study was designed and conducted to learn how senior adults use and store medications in their home. Interviews were conducted in the home, videotaped, and analyzed to help a manufacturer learn how to aid compliance with medication therapies.

Another example was conducting shop-alongs and making observational notes as shoppers used retail establishments.