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questionnairea structured list of questions which is used to obtain information. It is frequently used in MARKETING RESEARCH to help identify consumers' needs and motivations and to gauge their reactions to present product offerings. Considerable care and skill needs to be exercised in the preparation, development and testing of questionnaires before they are used, and in interpreting the results obtained.
Questionnaires may be designed to take a highly structured form, involving detailed questions requiring simply yes/no answers or multiple choices, or ratings on a scale. Such questionnaires are generally used to elicit simple information and are often administered to large samples of potential respondents through the post. Alternatively, semi-structured questionnaires may be used, which are generally administered personally to smaller samples of potential respondents and give interviewees more flexibility in answering set questions and elaborating on their answers when responding to supplementary questions. For some purposes unstructured questionnaires may be used with small samples of respondents to provide brief guidelines to personal interviewers as to the main areas to be investigated in their discussions with respondents. Such questionnaires are often, used as part of a pilot survey as a basis for compiling a more structured questionnaire.
The confidence with which the results of a questionnaire can be used depends on the response rate, that is, the actual proportion of contacted consumers who complete and return a postal questionnaire or answer fully the personally conducted questionnaires. See MARKETING INTELLIGENCE.