What are the pros and cons of in-person surveys?
- Accurate screening
- Can be conducted anywhere
- Records verbal and non-verbal cues
- Controls survey flow
- Can stimulate all five senses
- Takes longer
- More costly
- Dependent on the interviewer
- Limited sample size
- Can be difficult to manage
Online surveys have become the default way to collect data in the market research industry. There are many online survey benefits. They can reach more respondents, are quick to fill out, and are easy to collate. However, online surveys may not always be appropriate in every market research. For some, an in-person survey can be a more effective way to collect data.
If you’re considering an in-person survey for your project, there are some things to consider. Namely, the pros and cons of in-person surveys, which will give you a clearer idea of the capabilities and limitations of this data collection method.
What Are The Pros Of In-Person Surveys?
In-person surveys, also called face-to-face surveys, are still widely used today because they have certain advantages over other data collection methods. These include:
Demographic information such as gender, race, and age are easy to fake online to become a respondent. This is often the case when an online survey offers incentives. This falsification leads to inaccurate collected data.
Screening is more accurate when using in-person surveys. This is because potential respondents are meeting face-to-face with the interviewer. Therefore, they are unable to falsify information during the screening period.
Can Be Conducted Anywhere
In-person surveys can be conducted anywhere potential respondents can be found. This could even be held in the middle of shopping malls, groceries, public parks, or even in the respondent’s home. The ability to conduct the survey anywhere is especially useful if the survey is about the respondent’s sentiments on certain products, places, or other elements found in public spaces.
The fact that it can be done anywhere means that in-person surveys are also able to reach respondents with low internet connectivity or penetration. These could be senior citizens, low-income respondents, and other demographics that are less likely to be connected to the internet.
Records Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
In-person surveys are great for capturing verbal and non-verbal cues of respondents, such as their body language and emotions. This is useful for those who want to study the enthusiasm, discomfort, interest, and other cognitive and emotional responses regarding a certain product or subject.
Controls Survey Flow
In-person surveys happen at the moment — free from technological distractions. The interviewer has the power to control the flow of the survey, and gather the raw answers and emotional responses of the respondent in real-time. Internet usage is also restricted during in-person surveys, which means respondents are unable to search for possible answers or ideas online. This ensures the respondent answers questions based on their knowledge and opinions.
Can Stimulate All Five Senses
Online surveys are capable of adding audio and video stimuli to their forms, but in-person surveys go beyond that. This data collection method can let respondents smell, touch, and taste items. In-person surveys are especially useful when you need the respondent’s opinions on things like fabrics, food, perfume, and the like.
What Are The Cons Of In-Person Surveys?
Like any other data collection method, in-person surveys come with a set of disadvantages, which can make them unsuited for certain research. These include:
Compared to online surveys that often take only a few hours to a few days to complete, in-person surveys can take much more time to accomplish. Often, it takes weeks to interview the sample size needed. Depending on the questions and methodology, in-person surveys can take an hour or so to gather data from one respondent.
Cost is another major con to using in-person surveys. To reach your sample size and properly roll out your surveys, you will likely need a few staff to conduct the interviews. Paying these interviewers for their time is one of the highest costs your project can have. You will need to consider the number of staff needed to keep the survey time-efficient and the costs of employing them for the duration of the project.
Dependent On The Interviewer
The data from the in-person survey itself may be extensive — as they include verbal and non-verbal cues — but the quality of the said data is entirely dependent on the abilities of the interviewer. For example, your interviewer may be particularly skilled at conducting the survey and enticing additional input from the respondent but may have trouble logging all of the data accurately. This will impact the way the data is collected and interpreted. Additionally, the data may be subject to the interviewers’ bias, which further influences your survey results.
Limited Sample Size
When conducting an in-person survey, the amount of respondents you’re able to get is limited by many factors. Where you conduct your surveys, the number of potential respondents in that area, the time constraints of your project, and the number of your interviewing staff all play into how many respondents can take part in your in-person survey. You could conduct the survey again in several areas, but this will increase costs.
Can Be Difficult To Manage
Conducting an in-person survey requires a lot more coordination and supervision than other methods of data collection. This is because in-person surveys are often conducted by multiple interviewers, which may or may not be in the same location. When the survey is spread out, a manager is needed to brief each interviewer on the methodology, such as respondent qualifications, screening methods, and survey procedures.
Furthermore, if the survey makes use of stimuli (such as products to taste or touch), then these items need to be brought to each survey location. All of these elements require logistical management.
Data collection methods are not black-and-white. Each one comes with different advantages and disadvantages over other methods. Understanding the pros and cons of in-person surveys may give you a better idea of whether this method works best for your project, or you’re better off using something else.
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