Should Market Researchers Be Excluded From Market Research Studies?

Are you excluding marketers and market researchers from your market research studies? Do you ever wonder why? And should you continue to do so?

If you do not want to read this entire article, I will give my opinion: No!

Marketers and market researchers should not be excluded from your market research studies.

Why are Marketers and Market Researchers Disqualified?

Often times, the first screener question in any market research studies is :

“Do you work in marketing or market research?”.

By answering “yes” to either of the options presented in this question, you are disqualified from the study, often receiving a message thanking you for your time.

Definition: Screener Questionsa question or set of questions, usually at the beginning of a survey that determine whether the respondent is qualified to take the survey.

It is thought that since market researchers have intimate knowledge of the research industry, the same industry that is conducting the study, they must be biased and will provide prejudiced responses.

Marketers are often bucketed into this category since they are seen as closely related to market researchers and working hand-in-hand with these individuals.

As a market researcher, I find this odd, since I know that I am a completely different beast then the marketers I know. We compliment each other, and we work well together, but we are not nearly the same.

And, sadly, sometimes market researchers and marketers are disqualified from a study, just because that has always been the way it has been done. There are no questions asked and no considerations given to changing times. Sometimes things are done just because that is how it was done before.

Looking at the Numbers

Marketers and market researchers are an integral part of the population and are being excluded from studies for reason that do not make much sense; at least not to me.

I am a researcher, so let’s look at the numbers. It seems hard to determine how many people fall into the excluded category, or what percentage of the population they are, but when looking at the US Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, I found some data:

Four percent of the civilian workforce is recorded as working in the marketing and market research industries and 61 percent of those working in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services are employed in the marketing and market research industries. 1

So what does this mean? You could be missing valuable data on an important group of people. And there are a lot of them! This segment; marketers and market researchers is a significant percentage of the population. The people that work in these industries are consistently excluded from market research studies, and it should no longer be so.

With declining response rates and an increasing numbers of requests for unsubscribes, we can honestly use as many valid respondents as we can get. Excluding a population for no good reason will not stand.

Studies are Biased Without Marketers and Market Researchers

In fact, I believe that not including marketers and market researchers in your research study actually biases the data that you will collect. Unless your target audience does not include these industries, I believe that you should include and not exclude them from your study.

When sampling from a population, each person in that population should have an equal chance of being selected. By excluding people in these industries you are not giving each member of that equal chance.

You would be introducing bias by excluding them!

Definition: PopulationA population is the entire group of individuals for which a conclusion is being drawn.

Specifically, if your study focuses on areas that market researchers excel, or flourish, you may be doing yourself more harm then good by excluding them. If your study is about, say, Broadway show tunes, then you may be missing out on a key segment, as almost every market researcher I know can bellow out Broadway lyrics on the spot, and have a higher than average show attendance. You would not want to miss out on respondents like that if you were with The Broadway League, would you?

But I digress…

They May Just Be the Best People to Participate!

Now, I am just one person, but I can tell you that when I take a market research study, I spend quality time responding to each question. And I think that most marketers and market researchers do the same.

When I am not excluded from a study, I am always so excited to be included, but then I focus. I am not thinking about how the survey tool wants me to answer or what response would get me through to the end the quickest. I am spending quality time thinking of how I truly feel about each question that is being asked. I am engaged and answering to the best of my abilities.

It may just be because I know that lots of time, energy and hard work was put into the study, and I want to give the best responses that I can so that the study can be a success. In fact, it is really no different than the way a product advocate would respond to your survey, and you surely you would not want to exclude them from your study!

Is it Okay to Exclude Segments?

When you are working on any market research project it is critical to know your target audience before diving in and conducting your study. Sometimes this requires some work upfront; even a qualitative research project to get to know your audience.

Definition: Qualitative Market ResearchMarketing research techniques in which data is obtained from a relatively small group of respondents and not analyzed for statistical significance. This is different than quantitative market research, which is analyzed for statistical significance.

If your target audience is individuals that work in the engineering field, than it is perfectly fine, if not expected that you would exclude non-engineers from your study. And, yes that does include excluding marketers and market researchers. In this case though, it would best to ask respondents a more directed question about what industry they work in:

Please confirm that you currently are employed in the field of engineering.

Now, if by off chance a contact in your sample is a market researcher that is currently working in an engineering position, they would qualify for your study and this would be completely valid.

Definition: SampleA sub-group of the population, chosen using statistically valid means, in order to represent the population as a whole.

So next time you are considering disqualifying someone that has intimate knowledge of the market research industry from your study, take pause. Consider including them. If you are hesitant, you can capture what industry they are in, and you can see for yourself if these individuals seem biased or just more engaged. And, hey, you never know; you may just find a new target audience for your latest product or service. You just never know!

1Source:Bureau of Labor and statistics – Occupational Employment Statistic – 2007, 149, 320,000 people in the civilian workforce, 6,314,220 people that work in the marketing (NAICS code 541613, with a count of 4,324,284) and market research (NAICS code 541910, with a count of 1,989,936 and 10,284,525 work in Professional and Scientific and Technical Services (NAICS code 541).

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