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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Cochrane

Who's Bob?

All industries have their lingo. In fact even within industries, individual companies and organisations can have their own terminology. I once attended a conference where the speakers from one company kept talking about “Bob.” They waxed on about what a great leader and visionary Bob is. And how well he manages and his consumer centric behaviour is the best in the industry. After the session concluded, we went to a coffee break and several of the audience approached me and said “who the hell is Bob?”

Sometimes, market research falls into the same trap, thinking their audience knows the term of the research sponsor when in fact they do not. Market research surveys should use terms familiar to the audience rather than the lingo of the researcher or survey sponsor for several reasons:

  • Improved Understanding: Using familiar terms ensures that respondents understand the questions and can provide accurate responses. If the survey uses technical or unfamiliar language, respondents may misinterpret the questions or provide inaccurate answers, leading to unreliable data.

  • Increased Engagement: When surveys are written in language that resonates with the audience, respondents are more likely to engage with the survey and complete it. Using familiar terms helps create a sense of connection and relevance, encouraging respondents to actively participate in the research process.

  • Reduced Bias: Using jargon or technical language in surveys can introduce bias by favoring respondents who are familiar with the terminology. By using language that is accessible to a wider audience, surveys can avoid excluding certain demographics or segments of the population from participating in the research.

  • Enhanced Credibility: Surveys that use clear and understandable language are perceived as more credible by respondents. Using unfamiliar or overly complex terms may make the survey appear less trustworthy or legitimate, leading to skepticism or reluctance to participate.

  • Better Data Quality: Surveys that use familiar terms are more likely to yield high-quality data because respondents can provide more accurate and thoughtful responses. Clear and straightforward language reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or misinterpretations, leading to more reliable data for analysis.

  • Broader Reach: By using language that is accessible to a wider audience, market research surveys can reach a broader range of respondents, including those with varying levels of education, expertise, and background knowledge. This ensures that the survey results are more representative of the target population.

  • Enhanced Communication: Using familiar terms in surveys facilitates communication between the researcher and the audience. It demonstrates a respect for the respondent's perspective and helps foster a positive rapport, which can lead to more open and honest responses.


Overall, using terms familiar to the audience in market research surveys is essential for ensuring clear communication, maximizing respondent engagement, and obtaining high-quality data that accurately reflects the opinions and preferences of the target audience. Interview and research questions should be carefully vetted through a soft launch to insure the research will meet it’s goals.

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