How to Design the Worst Survey in the World: Maritz Research
Last year, a friend of mine purchased a new car. She was excited, because not only did it have that new-car smell (what’s up with that?), but because it’s something she had wanted for years — and could finally get it.
But that new car excitement plummeted when she opened her mail the other day. She received a survey that “will be used to help create the next generation of products the automotive industry produces.” Really? They survey came from Maritz Research, is 9 pages long and optimistically claims it contains only 77 questions.
But in my opinion, that’s simply a lie. Because many of the questions on the survey are actually multi-part questions that require multiple answers. Not exactly a way to endear you to a potential survey taker — deception by your survey’s numbering scheme.
What do you get for filling out such a lengthy and arduous survey? In the ultimate insult to a consumer’s time, Maritz Research will give you exactly nothing for sharing your opinions with them. Instead, you will be entered into a sweepstakes that — by law — anyone can enter, regardless of whether you fill out the survey. (Sweepstake instructions are listed at the end of this entry.)
If you want to get the most biased and un-representative sample of new car owners possible, this is certainly one way of doing it.
One problem is that the survey — because of its crazy length — is only going to be filled out by people who have the time and inclination to do so. This is not most people I know where both people are working full-time, raising kids, living their lives, and trying to make ends meet in this economy. While there’s always a trade-off to be made between survey length and getting meaningful data from a survey, this survey, in my opinion, errs way too much on trying to pry data from a consumer’s head.
Another problem is that the researchers don’t tell you up-front how long the survey takes an average person to fill out:
Please take some time to tell the manufacturers how you use your current vehicle and what you like about it, so that they can make a vehicle better suited to you.
This is an insult to a person’s time. In the best-case scenario, this survey could take a person anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to fill out (if they filled it out with care and consideration of each actual question asked). But you wouldn’t know that unless you actually sat down and filled it out.
A third problem is pretending the survey is only 77 questions long (by its own numbering), when in fact it is more like over 200 questions. This is an insult to a person’s intelligence.1
Questions 33, 56 and 57 are some of the worst offenders. Question 33, for instance, has 33 sub-parts! Question 56 has 22 parts. And in question 57, they just gave up numbering each of the individual sub-parts (I guess out of recognition of how insane its length was). It has 74 components — nearly as many parts they expect you to answer as the entire survey itself!
If you wanted to design a worse consumer survey, in my opinion you’d be hard-pressed to do so.
If automotive makers really want this information, they should come up with a simple and direct financial incentive to have you fill it out. Ten dollars, twenty dollars — the exact amount of reimbursement for a person’s time and opinions doesn’t matter. But if your opinion was actually valued — like Maritz Research claims it is — it would be worth it to every single survey-taker. Not a chance to enter into some random Sweepstakes that’s open to anyone.2
- Now, I’m sure Maritz Research will say it’s not their fault — the automakers tell them they have to make the survey this long. But if I were Maritz Research, I might say to them, “Hey, we’re the consumer research experts here. This survey’s length is ridiculous. Give us the money to compensate people fairly for filling this out, or else the data we’re going to get back is likely going to be biased and un-representative of the actual people who purchased your car.” [↩]
- No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. To enter the Sweepstakes without completing the survey, hand-print your complete name, address, daytime phone number and age on a 3″x5″ paper and mail it in a #10 envelope to: 2013 Maritz New Vehicle Customer Survey, Maritz Research, 1740 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee, OH 43537. Entry must be postmarked by 07/24/13. Limit one entry per household. Sweepstakes ends 07/24/13. Open only to legal residents of the continental U.S. who are 21 years or older. One (1) Grand Prize of $10,000, two (2) First prizes of $5,000 and five (5) second prizes of $1,000 are available to be won. There are 8 prizes out of 1,050,000 prize notices distributed. But odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Taxes are responsibility of the winner. Sponsor: Maritz Research, 1740 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee OH 43537. Full rules are available at www.MaritzARG.com/US. Psych Central has no affiliation or connection with this Sweepstakes or Maritz Research. Psych Central does not endorse the Sweepstakes, nor is responsible for the Sweepstakes in any manner, way, shape or form. We’re simply reporting on it. [↩]
Grohol, J. (2013). How to Design the Worst Survey in the World: Maritz Research. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/03/06/how-to-design-the-worst-survey-in-the-world-maritz-research/