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Popular survey questions and how you can make the most from them

Market research 04 12
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Uncovering insights is a tricky process. How you gather your information and what questions you use can have a significant impact on the quality of data you collect. Your survey needs to be tailored towards gathering the most accurate data possible. 

There are several survey question types and methodologies which can have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the context and the demographics of your respondents. You must decide between open-ended, direct, dichotomous questions and more. 


Commonly used survey questions


These are primarily used to get qualitative data about the topic at hand. These are time consuming and require your respondents to put in more effort. Open ended questions can be separate or included as an option in multiple choice questions. 

For example, you can ask respondents their favorite automobile manufacturer, and give them the option to choose from Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Toyota and “other”. Should they wish to type in Porsche, they can choose to do so by selecting ‘other’.

Rank order scaling

Rank order scaling is a survey question that allows for ranking of brands, products, or services. In this type, you provide options and respondents have to rank them on specific attributes or characteristics. For example, a mobile phone company might want their respondents to list out which features they like most in their mobile, in order of importance.


These are “Yes/No” questions. It is often used to screen out respondents from surveys and to find out if they meet your target demographic.

Rating Scale

This survey question asks respondents to rate your product or service within a predefined range.

Stapel Scale

This survey question type asks respondents to rate a product, service or brand on a scale from +5 to -5. 

Certain attributes are mentioned next to the scale, and respondents have to choose an answer which they feel best describes their opinion about the attribute in question. 

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Psychographic examples which influence customer behavior


What motivates your customers to buy your product? These motivators help in finding out the problem that your product fixes for your customers and underline the reason why customers seek a product with your specific features. This also highlights the difference between the motivators of your brand customers versus the competitor’s brand customers.

For example: A coffee brand’s customers can have multiple motivators such as caffeine addiction, low priced packages or high quality. As against this, the coffee brands can study the motivators of other coffee brand’s customers as well as motivators of tea customers.


What is the customer looking to have after they buy the product? Every product and service satisfies multiple purposes for different people.

For example: An adult office goer might buy a smart watch with the expectation that they’ll be able to look after their health better and track progress. On the other hand, a teenager might buy the same smart watch with the expectation that he or she will be able to impress their friends with it.

Potential problems 

What are the problems that the customer is hoping to have after buying this product? The list of perceived problems branches from the research that the customer might have conducted before buying your product. FAQ’s and product feedback websites highlight problems that other customers have faced ,which leads the customer into believing that they might face the same issues . 

Key influence 

Apart from motivators and expectations, what other influences does the customer have? As a marketer, it is important to study every area of the customer journey, and what lead them to it. Ask questions like:

  • What lead the customer to visit the company website?
  • How did the customer get to know about the brand and its value offerings?
  • If a customer shifted their purchase to another brand, what prompted it?

Example : Brands can collect information by conducting customer surveys regarding which other brand do they buy from , any feature that they consider must be included in the product and what effect does the company’s marketing and advertising have on their decision making process .

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Ways to generate psychographic profiles

Surveys: Surveys can help the researcher gather a plethora of information about the customers and their mindset. Telephonic surveys can even help gather insights by using a person’s tone and recording the survey for future reference. It’s imperative that the survey is designed in a manner that helps in gathering unbiased data by following certain tips:

  • Avoid leading questions 
  • Balance out answer options
  • Avoid double barreled questions 
  • Be clear and direct 
  • Use simple language to avoid ambiguity and confusion 
  • Incentivize surveys to avoid non-response bias 
  • Use closed ended questions for proper statistical analysis 
  • Obtain feedback 

Genuine responses from the respondents help generate accurate psychographic profiles that can be effectively used by companies to target customer segments and understand their individual needs and wants.

Interviews: This is an interpersonal method of gathering customer information. The interviewer has the added advantage of engaging into conversations, reading body language and expressions and understanding the tone of the respondent. Interviewer can ask the respondent to elaborate on any point that they feel is central to the study. The interview length is also not limited as in the case of scripted surveys. The interviewer can get to know the motivators, expectations, perceived problems and key influences.

Group discussions:  Focus groups and group discussions initiate a multichannel conversation between a number of customers who discuss about their habits as well as their opinions on what the brand offers, its pros and cons. The advantage of involving multiple customers, is that as a company, you get to the know the different angles through which the customers view your brand. This is how the company gets to understand its customers and how they need to alter their marketing and messaging according to the different viewpoints. It is, however, difficult to understand individual opinions and attitude, the group dynamic makes it easy to incorporate multiple psychographic profiles by gathering different people at one place and engaging them in a discussion. It is very important that the group does not get swayed by other’s opinions and be absolutely candid about their options and choices. Acquiescence sometimes results in changing opinions among people engaged in discussions, to be more agreeable. This can hinder the formation of accurate psychographic profiles and so the moderator of the discussion needs to make sure this does not happen.

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Ways to study psychographic insights

  • Study with internal personnel: Once you’ve identified all the key psychographic areas that affect customer journeys, ponder over them with your employees. Company professionals have a better knowledge about the existing standards within the company and can elaborate where the company stands with respect to the consumer expectations.  Discussing the identified areas with company personnel can bring out where the company lacks, what areas have been covered to a significant extent and what are the gaps that are still needed to be filled.
  • Identify key characteristics: Once you’ve studied all the identified insights in depth, you have to prioritize which aspects the company needs to work upon the most. It is not possible to act upon all identified areas and the company, thus, needs to optimize resource investment by separating key areas. Find out if working on a particular insight will actually lead to greater returns by conducting feasibility studies. This way you’ll only focus on areas that are worth the time, money and effort.
  • Train teams to deliver on those characteristics: The next step is to figure out how your company will work its way to the desired level of satisfaction. Set targets and deadlines and assign teams to work upon the key identified characteristics. Track progress and make the necessary changes. Modify your product designs and messaging to suit the needs of individual consumer segments. This way you’ll be able to press the exact points which skew the customers into preferring your brand over your competitors.

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