Market Research Definitions

Albert Hamilton




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Despite consumer research being a long established service, the terminology used by people in the sector can unfortunately be wide and varied.  A survey is not the same as a questionnaire!

Using a common vocabulary can eliminate misunderstanding and in this vein, we have shared below the relevant market research definitions of words and phrases used in the research industry.



This is the set of questions to be applied to the people who agree to participate.



This word describes the overall project.  A survey is not a set of questions.



This is the person who participates in the survey by completing the questionnaire.



This is the group of people who have participated by completing the questionnaires.



This is the group of people from which the sample has been recruited



This is the term used to describe a completed questionnaire.  It can also be called a ‘case’.


Lead time

This is the time it takes to find a person willing to participate in the survey.


Application time

This is the average time it takes to complete a questionnaire.


Projected response rate

This is the anticipated number of responses, calculated by adding together the application time and lead time and using that figure to calculate responses per hour.


Response rate

This is the number of responses that have been achieved – typically given ‘per hour’.


Sample point

This is where the interviewer was located during the survey.


Sample point conditions

This is the term to cover factors such as weather, local attitude to surveys and competition for attention, all of which can influence a person’s likelihood to participate.



This is the number of people passing the sample-point in a given time period.



Not all questions are relevant to every respondent, therefore some are skipped, ensuring the respondent is taken through the questionnaire using the correct route.  This process is called routing.