Qualitative Marketing Research Surveys - Question Tips

Clear, Concise, and Conversational

In qualitative marketing research surveys, keep your questions clear, concise, and conversational.

Just remember the three Cs when you write and ask questions.

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Conversational

Use words your respondents understand, and strip out useless words. Edit your questions to their most basic form, without losing meaning and precision.

Keep questions simple by focusing on one idea. Avoid two questions in one sentence. Break a double-barreled question into two separate questions. Write questions from the respondent’s view.

The ideal interview is when you ask a short question and the respondent answers several of your questions. It happens.

Short questions get long answers. Let the respondents do the talking.

Keep qualitative marketing research surveys or moderator guide questions simple.

Test Your Questions

Write questions. Read them. Edit them. Then test them.

Test your questions on one or two people, who typify the segment. It’s your pilot test. Your first focus group or depth interview in research project is a pilot test.

Test for understanding. If people are confused about a question, rewrite it.

If the question still doesn’t work, get rid of it.

Ask Questions in Different Ways

If respondents don’t understand your main question, ask it in a different way, or rephrase the question.

For example, here are some different ways to ask about benefits:

“What are the benefits of garlic?”

“Please tell me about the benefits of garlic.”

“How does garlic help you?”

“What do you like best about garlic?”

If a particular question confuses people, vary it.

Introduce a Subject - Take People Back

When you start a new subject, you want to focus people on it.

You take people back to an experience, behavior, attitude, or feeling.

And the way you take them back is by simply stating,

“Please think back…”

“Please think about…”


“Let’s talk about…”

“Think back” or “when …” focuses attention on a subject. It introduces a subject.

“Think back” or “When…” usually starts a main question, but you can use it as a follow-up question too.

The Good

So, what is a good question in this business?

Good questions are questions people easily understand. Good questions use words people recognize and know.

Good questions are short, simple, and clear. They express a single idea. They avoid misunderstanding.

Good questions answer the research objectives.

In contrast, bad questions confuse respondents. Bad questions mislead and misinform. They deliver the wrong idea. They are off context.

And The Bad

Bad questions bias answers. Bad questions put words in people’s mouths. Bad questions are leading questions.

And bad questions threaten and irritate respondents. Bad questions shut up respondents. They stop people talking.

Bad questions do not answer research objectives. They are off target and irrelevant. They produce answers the interviewer misunderstands and misinterprets.


Keep qualitative marketing research surveys or moderator guide questions simple, and avoid confusion and misunderstanding.

Keep it clear, concise, and conversational.

Also, read the article about how to write basic questions for the focus group questionnaire.

Check the article about question bias.

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