Functional Testing in Market Research

“Effective decision making is important to shape your business and a key to success.”

In Market Research, the key to have an effective research report depends on the research procedure decision. And to test the decision, market researcher conduct functional testing or you can say pre-testing. Functional testings’ are crucial components of a sound survey design. Conducting a pre-test does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success.

Functional testing fulfils a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of this pre-testing.

When a research proposal is proposed, it undergoes through various steps- define the objective, designing the research study, collecting the data, analysing and visualizing the data and finally communicating the outcome with the node.

It’s a long process and incur considerable amount of time & money. Regrettably, many research ideas that seem to show great promise are unproductive when actually carried out. The functional study almost always provides adequate data for the researcher to decide whether to proceed forwards with the main study.

Therefore, market researcher prefers to have functional testing to examine the feasibility of operations and to gather information on prior to a larger field. The principal end of functional testing is not to collect research data, but to limit the possible loopholes in the research design and to refine the procedures before the actual data are gathered. The secondary goal of functional testing is to see if the planned statistical analyses work. Problems that show up in the functional testing are repaired by changing the data collection procedures or the statistical analyses.

For example: Researcher’s functional testing revealed that going door–to–door to recruit participants in a college residence hall to distribute a questionnaire individually took too much time. Then he adjusted his procedure and recruited participants at a weekly residence hall meeting and passed out the questionnaire in that group setting instead. (Faced by ResearchFox)

The advantage of carrying a functional testing is that it can give advance warning about where the main research project could fail, where research protocols might not be followed, or whether proposed methods or legal documents are inappropriate or overly complicated. In short: ‘Do not take the risk. Functional test first.

Functional testing can be based on quantitative and/or qualitative methods and large-scale studies might employ a number of functional studies before the primary study is taken. Consequently, researchers might start with ‘qualitative data collection and analysis of a relatively unexplored topic, using the results to design a subsequent quantitative phase of the study.

The first phase of a functional testing involve using in-depth interviews or focus groups to accost the issues to be addressed in a large-scale questionnaire survey. Next the questionnaire could be piloted, for example, the wording and order of the questions, or the range of answers on multiple-choice questions could be tested. A final functional study could be conducted to examine the research procedure, such as the different ways of giving out and collecting the questionnaires.

In a recent study exploring nurses’ and midwives’ attitudes to research followed this pattern: in this study, focus groups were used to identify key issues from which a questionnaire could be developed, and this was then piloted before the study proper.

Functional testing permits, preliminary testing of the hypotheses that leads to trying out more precise hypotheses in the main study. It may lead to changing some hypotheses, dropping some, or springing up new hypotheses. It frequently provides the researcher with ideas, approaches, and clues you may not have foreseen before conducting the pilot survey. Such ideas and clues increase the chances of getting clearer findings in the main study.

Functional testing thus enables the market researcher to select those alternative measures that bring forth the unblemished results for the main study and saves time & money.

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