A Successful Research Project – Step 4: Primary Research

by Jenny on December 15, 2016 Comments Off on A Successful Research Project – Step 4: Primary Research
  1. Discussion & Discovery (CLICK HERE)
  2. Secondary Research (CLICK HERE)
  3. Clarify Objective (CLICK HERE)
  4. Primary Research
  5. Strategy & Planning
  6. Implement & Launch
  7. Report & Benchmark

Now that we have worked through the crucial research objective development and clarification process, we can move forward with the confidence of factually sound, data-driven guidance. Equipped with market insights and a targeted group of respondents, we are ready to create our survey and conduct primary research.

For more information on how we arrived at this point, we’ve provided links to the first three steps above.


This is where we develop and launch a survey, collect and analyze responses, then generate a report to convey our research findings. If any of these aspects are lacking, the overall effectiveness of primary research is at risk.

There’s a delicate art to crafting survey questions that are focused, properly worded, and yield applicable insights. If respondents misinterpret a question’s context, their mindset while responding will conflict with the question’s intent. This is why survey development is a unique skill set and requires its own level of expertise.

A good way to start is by addressing key questions internally before creating and delivering the survey:

To whom are we presenting this survey? What “voice” is most likely to connect with them?
How will we isolate and communicate with our ideal consumer group?
What is the best channel to promote, encourage survey completion?
Do we have the resources to offer an incentive for survey completion?
How long should the survey be, in terms of total questions and average completion time?
Who will ultimately use these research results? What is their level of data-knowledge?
How will we deliver the results for easy consumption and inter-department distribution?  


The success of primary research is reliant on the quality of questions and response options included. Without careful consideration of these aspects, the data collected will lack consistency and reliability. It is easy to build a list of high-level, vague questions. However it is much more difficult to clearly articulate specific questions worded appropriately to address focused business goals.

Once the survey is created and distributed, there’s no turning back. If survey results are inconclusive or too general to offer applicable insights, the ensuing plan of action will not be factually supported or guided by data-driven insights. This leaves two options moving forward; base action items on unreliable data, or disregard the data all together and revert back to guesses and assumptions.

Either way, the research project will not have been helpful. It will be perceived as wasted time and resources, thus reducing the likelihood of leveraging data insights in the future; which is ill-fated.


Typically we like to keep a survey of this nature to around 20 questions, or an average completion time of 10-15 minutes. This helps ensure survey completion and higher response rates. People typically abandon longer, more involved surveys that try to cover a variety of concepts at one time.

Having already determined our target consumer group (Millennial, Female Athleisure Customers) we decide that an online survey will help effectively deliver study invitations and facilitate an easy submission process.

We revisit our clarified research objective and leverage secondary research findings to help guide survey question wording and relevant response options. From here our team of expert survey developers begins crafting a list of questions. We typically create a list of questions longer than what will ultimately be included in our survey. This offers a chance to pick and choose the most appropriate questions, combine question concepts when possible, and narrow the overall survey focus.

Our target respondent group provided a bracketed age group, and as previously mentioned we intend to further segment results during the analytic process. Therefore we included demographic questions such as age, education level, and job position.

We then included questions related consumer lifestyle and market preferences:

Do you own a gym membership? How often do you exercise each week?
Are you involved in any recreational sports? If so, which sports?
What are your favorite Athleisure brands?
Are you a member of any Athleisure loyalty or rewards programs?
What are your top 3 favorite stores for Athleisure shopping? What do you like most about these stores?
How much do you spend when purchasing Athleisure items online? In-store?
Which athleisure product attributes are most important to you?
Which brand messages do you find most relatable?

After fully developing our survey questions and programming the online survey instrument, we partnered with a survey panel company who distributed the survey to their list of registered, voluntary survey respondents. We were able to specify desired respondent characteristics to ensure we deliver our survey to the right people, and as a precautionary measure we prefaced the survey with qualifying questions granting access only to those who fall within our target customer group.

Once the survey is launched, we await completed submissions. After reaching our desired response count, we close the survey and are ready to continue moving forward with the process.

Be sure to check back soon as we continue our series with Step 5; Strategy & Planning.


Can’t wait for the next post? Want more information sooner? We are happy to help! Research and data analytics are our world, and we love what we do.
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Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

JennyA Successful Research Project – Step 4: Primary Research