So, this past summer I was at a local music festival and a well-known CPG company was handing out samples of one of its dinnertime products, along with an invitation to complete a series of online surveys in exchange for two modest payments.
Our family tried the product and we were underwhelmed by it. I answered the survey invite and a short time later, I received an e-mail with a link to the first survey. It was standard stuff – did you prepare the sample? Did you like it? If so, why? If not, why?
A few weeks went by and I received another survey. It covered nearly identical topics, with the questions posed a bit differently. I was mildly annoyed at being asked to answer the same questions again. Having received my responses to the first survey, didn’t they already know my opinions on the product’s taste, ease of preparation, value for the money, future purchase intent, etc.? Were they expecting me to have changed my views? Or to have gone out and bought another package of a product I already said my family didn’t enjoy that much in the first place?
A few more weeks went by and another e-mail showed up for the third survey. Again, same tired battery of questions. By now I was really ticked. I dutifully answered the questions and tried, as best I could in the open-ends, to express my dissatisfaction with having to rehash my responses while also taking the survey writers to task for subjecting me to the research version of the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day.
Of greater concern to me was the impact that surveys like these have on our precious respondent pool. However well-meaning the researchers were, the main message they communicated with their surveys was not “Your opinion counts!” but “We’re not too smart!” And, perhaps worse, “We don’t respect your time!” How else to explain sending out nearly identical questionnaires three times, with no acknowledgment that they realize things are getting a little repetitive or that, hey, we thought maybe we might elicit some deeper insights if we asked you the same questions in slightly different ways?
With all the technology at our disposal these days, can’t we come up with better ways to get the information we’re looking for?