Getting better brand awareness results from online surveys

Very often online surveys that aim to measure the awareness of a particular brand will use just a multi-response closed question with a list of possible brands from which respondents can choose.   This gives prompted, or aided, brand awareness.

This can work well in some circumstances, but there are others in which it can lead to inaccurate results. For example, if the list of brands is long this may put respondents off looking through them properly, especially if they are taking the survey on a mobile device.

A good way round this, and one which can produce useful data in its own right, is to precede the closed question with an open-ended question. In other words, have a question which asks respondents to write in the brands that they know or have heard of.  This gives unprompted, spontaneous or unaided awareness.

Then, the instructions for the closed brand awareness question can ask people to select the brands they are aware of, including any that they wrote in the previous open-ended question.

This gives a useful benchmark for data cleaning, allowing the cleaning team to compare and sense check the answers of each respondent to the open-ended and closed questions.

The open-ended question may also reveal brands that should really be in the pre-coded list for the closed question.  If the results of the survey are checked at an early stage, such as from the soft launch, then it is possible to add such brands to the closed question.

We realise that adding an open-ended question means there will be one more question in the questionnaire, and that it may involve an additional cost for coding. But usually the benefits outweigh the cost, and in fact if you check the length of interview data you may find that the survey is being completed more quickly than you expected, so that the additional question does not in fact lead to more cost.