Best PracticesMarket Research

Principles of Remarkable Research: Part 10 of 20

Remarkable research is easy for participants

Don’t let excessive jargon stand in the way of your remarkable research. When you design surveys or discussion guides, use simple language. It’s very easy for us who develop areas of expertise (in an industry, product category, etc.) to forget that others don’t use the same language to discuss the same topics. Your organization may use language that your target market does not (I see this frequently in technology companies and financial institutions).

  • Be vigilant when you’re creating surveys to use friendly language. Go for the lowest common denominator in terms of who’s taking your survey. Use language that they are likely to use. Excessive jargon turns people off and leads to dropouts, or worse: if they don’t know what a term means they might guess, and you will get inaccurate data in return.

Even within a specialty field, use of jargon can vary a lot. For example, I have done 100+ focus groups with IT managers. And from this experience, I can tell you that how they talk about their systems, installation processes, daily tasks and even their budget strategies can vary dramatically. Let’s take the case of products they have in use: some IT managers refer to a given technology by a technical name or IEEE standard. Others refer to a common brand or product model and don’t even know the more technical terms.  Both types of IT managers may be valuable for your research, so you need to be sure to use language that fits both.

[This is the tenth article in a series of 20 mini-posts titled, “Principles of Remarkable Research.” Don’t want to miss this series? Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS.]


Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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1 thought on “Principles of Remarkable Research: Part 10 of 20”

  1. And a third type of IT talk I’ve encountered when doing face-to-face interviews: internal acronyms and proprietary system names. Those are the most confusing. I had to develop a sixth sense for when they were using an internal name and when they were referring to an obscure technology I wasn’t aware of.

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