What Does The Silence Tell Us?

When we carry out market studies in which we approach people to obtain data and information from them, we can find many possibilities. In an ideal world, we expect to collect everything that was planned in the design of the research protocol. However, reality is often challenging and always forces us to face obstacles to successfully complete our studies.

One of the problems that pollsters can find when they prepare questionnaires is the non-response to certain questions. Although many times it may be enough to repeat the question or explain it to the most distracted to obtain results, there will be cases in which silence is a constant. Below we list four possible interpretations of consumer non-responses.

  1. Ignorance of local vocabulary. When considering the design of a study, the use of a neutral and, to a certain extent, technical language is often preferred. However, when the field work is carried out, it can be found that people do not respond to certain questions. After making a brief analysis, it was resolved that the people approached had no knowledge of a word or concept because in their culture it is said in another way. To cite an example, in almost every Latin American country expanded polystyrene receives a different name. In this scenario, it will suffice to carry out a pilot test before starting an investigation or request support from experts in the language of the site to adapt our instruments.
  2. Taboos. Another case in which the local culture and idiosyncrasy can induce silence in people to answer a question refers to topics that are not well seen to be talked about. The taboos can be of popular roots or of recent appearance. When this situation arises it will be worth rethinking the way the question is posed. Projection techniques can be used or in extreme cases change the methodology for one in which the respondent feels comfortable responding.
  3. Distrust. Although pollsters are experts at interviewing people, there will be times when certain questions present a challenge. In our region it is common that in some places there is fear of externalizing certain data for fear of some crime or attack. It is for this reason that in several questionnaires it is suggested to add non-response options to certain questions when they do not jeopardize the fulfillment of the research objectives.
  4. Failures in the questionnaire. On rare occasions it may happen that when wanting to apply a questionnaire the respondent is unable to answer for multiple reasons. Among these is the socioeconomic level of the household or that the questionnaire has a design that poses an obstacle or confusion to the respondent. One solution is to replace the person who presents this condition or if the silence turns out to be very generalized, the study method or technique implemented will have to be reviewed.

Non-responses can seem like a problem at first when it comes to meeting consumers. However, for the experienced analyst it turns out to be other information more worthy of review. The challenge is to analyze the silences of people and understand why they prefer to keep quiet about certain things. At Acertiva we have experience in conducting interviews in LATAM. Write us today to be your regional ally in Market Research.