Archive for the ‘components of market research’ Category

The following post was co-written with Hilary Ranucci, Business Development Coordinator at RMS.


Colleges and Universities are no stranger to market research, but we’ve noticed an uptick in K-12 school districts seeking market research services. To make the most informed decisions about your school district, you should have a strong understanding of your community, both past and present. Below are some common market research projects that school districts will benefit from the most.

Community Awareness Studies
The best way to gauge the perception of your district is to reach out to the very community that it is serving. Surveys can be conducted via mail, telephone, or online to capture a large volume of quantitative data, while focus groups will add a qualitative component to the research. Information gained from community awareness studies can include indicators of quality within a district (strengths), unique attributes, the school district image, and overall value ratings in curriculum content areas.

Graduate Surveys
Speaking to past students will provide the school district with a wealth of satisfaction information. Graduate surveys are typically conducted online or via phone, and questions are aimed at learning how satisfied graduates were with their education and how well-prepared they were for their post-graduation plans. Data gathered from the surveys will allow the district to determine which programs, content, or classes may need to be improved, and identify those are providing the most value. A knowledgeable market research vendor will help your school district determine how far back in the graduate database you will need to go when surveying to answer your research questions. Our clients have also found that graduate surveys are useful for creating and/or keeping an alumni base engaged for future initiatives.

Parent Surveys or Interviews
Parents are becoming increasingly interested and involved in the education their child(ren) receive. As a key community stakeholder, this demographic can provide valuable insight. Surveys can be conducted online or via phone, and interviews may take place in person or via phone. Survey questions should identify satisfaction with education policy, curriculum/programs, communication from the school district, and overall satisfaction with the services provided by the school district. Trending topics that we are also seeing become more prevalent in parent surveys include learning about perceived school safety, scheduling, and budget. Your market research consultant should work with you to determine the appropriate method to reach your parent audience, and which questions will produce the most valuable insight.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys
Employee satisfaction surveys are not limited to the business world. Like any other business operation, school districts should look internally for areas of opportunity. Staff immersed in the daily operation of school district will provide important insight into the perception and satisfaction with the school district as a workplace. We’ve noticed there is a direct link between strong employee engagement and organizational success. Online employee surveys are a powerful means to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. Perhaps most importantly, employee satisfaction surveys give the employees an anonymous outlet to note the aspects of their job and workplace that are most enjoyable, and identify areas of opportunity that would make them more engaged and loyal. Survey questions should focus on identifying areas where the school district is excelling and where they should improve, as well as finding ways to motivate employees. An important component to the employee satisfaction surveying process is the use of the data by school district. Once employees have voiced their opinion, it is important to let them know how the school district plans to use the feedback to improve their working experience.

RMS has worked with many school districts and conducted the studies outlined above. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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How to Manage a Consumer Research Panel

Step #3: Growth

This post is the third in a series revealing the secrets of how RMS has had success with panel management. The first post discussed the importance of welcome calls, and the second post described quality control measures. This blog post will provide information on research panel growth strategies. At Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) we have become skilled at panel management by creating and continuing to manage our own research panel called RMS ViewPoint.


When it comes to the size of a research panel, the key is to have enough respondents to make the data meaningful. Growth is a crucial component to effective panel management. More survey respondents often results in higher quality data (assuming they’re engaged participants-more on that here). Occasionally, members will unsubscribe after an invite to participate in a research opportunity, which happens for a variety of reasons. At RMS we call this drop off. In order to offset drop off, we constantly recruit new members to support steady panel growth. Every project has different needs, so we never know if we’ll need to reach out to a specific audience for a client. By having a diverse population of panel members, we can be confident in our ability to reach the client’s desired target market.

There are a variety of tools we use to reach potential panel members. A few notable ones are: social media, traditional media, attending events, creating recruitment contests for panel members, and general networking. We have found the most success by attending local events. This has allowed RMS to connect with and support other local businesses while also recruiting panel members from a population that mirrors the Unites States population as a whole. During the event we provide sign up slips, which are identical to the RMS ViewPoint sign up survey, and find creative ways to encourage attendees to sign up. One way we do this is to take a poll of attendees using a ballot as the sign up slip. Check out the picture below of RMS representatives at a local event!

Laci's Giveback Event-crop

The RMS ViewPoint Panel is a cost-effective solution for your next market research project. If you would like to learn more about using the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel, please contact Sandy Baker, Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Want to join in on the fun? The RMS ViewPoint Research Panel consists of thousands of consumers, just like you, who get the opportunity to be rewarded for sharing their thoughts and opinions! Are you a member of the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel yet? You can click here to sign up.


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higher ed brand awareness

It’s that time of year again, students and professors are getting settled in to a new semester of college, and administrators are coming up with solutions to help their institution stay ahead of the competitive curve. Standing out among the crowd is a constant struggle for many institutions that are grappling with recent trends – the pros and cons of going test-optional, and a rise in the number of private colleges and universities raising the discount rates on their tuition come to mind first.  Today’s students (and their parents) are invested in searching for the best education at the most affordable cost, causing institutions to go back to the drawing board to revisit their branding and determine their place in the marketplace.

If your institution is revisiting brand awareness and competitive positioning, consider investigating the following:

  • How does the institution’s current branding resonate with key stakeholder groups (current/prospective students, alumni, faculty/staff, donors, local employers, and the general community)?
  • What sets your institution apart from your competition?
  • What is your institution known for? What branding opportunities can the institution capitalize on?
  • What makes prospective students consider your institution? What leads students to enroll?

To answer those questions, we’ve found a couple research options to be particularly effective. Online survey(s) with current and prospective students, alumni, and faculty/staff provide quantitative insight into the perception and awareness of the institution’s brand. In-depth interviews with local high school staff, employers, and economic leaders provide in-depth qualitative insight into brand awareness. A competitive analysis can reveal competing institutions and uncover areas of opportunity for new program offerings or educational partnerships to reduce operational costs.

Using the results of the study is where the real magic happens. Findings can drive refreshed marketing campaigns, allowing the university to better connect with untapped marketplace potential, and reinforce current relationships. With an enhanced understanding of opportunity, the institution can rejuvenate strategic planning efforts and enact a long-term plan for providing academic excellence.

Is your institution interested in conducting a branding study or competitive analysis? RMS has all the tools and resources to determine the brand awareness and marketplace positioning of your college or university. If you’re interested in learning more about our higher education services, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: A law firm partnered with RMS to conduct a mystery shopping competitive assessment study. The firm wanted to better understand competitor pricing, payment plans offered, and prospective client experience. The market research objective was to provide the client with the insights needed to determine their competitive stance in the legal marketplace.

Approach: The study involved the completion of three mystery shops for each of the 15 competitors investigated. For each competitor, a mystery shop was implemented to obtain information regarding a prospective first offense, second offense, and felony offense. All shops were performed by the RMS QualiSight facility, a team of trained researchers experienced at routinely conducting mystery shops. All supporting documentation, including details for each of the three scenarios utilized, was developed in consultation with the client to ensure accuracy in data collection procedures. All mystery shops were digitally recorded and audited internally for quality. An identical approach was completed with the client’s law firm for comparative purposes.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • The data revealed that the price quoted for a first offense and second offense were the same (on average), although the second offense carried a wider range of quoted prices. As expected, a felony offense resulted in the highest quotes and largest spread of quoted prices from competitors.
  • When comparing data gathered from competitors to that obtained from the client’s firm, RMS determined that for all scenarios, the client’s pricing was within the range of quotes obtained from competitors.
  • While some firms appeared to have a clear pricing structure, others provided estimates on a case-by-case basis. Interestingly, several of the organizations refused to provide information for a felony offense without an in-person consultation where details of the case could be reviewed.
  • A majority of the firms investigated did not offer an official payment plan, but most of them indicated a willingness to work out some form of payment structure with the prospective client. Of those that offered a payment plan, all required a down payment for at least one of the three scenarios completed.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in conducting a market research project, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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boom in online education

Post-secondary online academic offerings are certainly not a new concept. The topic has, however, crossed our radar more frequently over the last year than in the past. With college enrollment numbers on the decline, administrators are angling for ways to combat rising costs and garner renewed interest among prospective populations. It’s no secret that the higher education space is shifting. Millennials are staying in college longer to increase their competitiveness in the marketplace, and they’ve been leaders in the shift towards online learning. As Generation Z moves through the post-secondary pipeline, digital learning is expected to be the norm. The mix of recent high school graduates and mid-career professionals that have a thorough understanding of technology, but varied academic needs occupying the same institutional space will stack the deck in favor of online program offerings. As colleges and universities begin to explore this opportunity, we’re seeing heightened interest in investigating the long-term viability of online programs.

Recently, our clients have expressed an interest in the following with relation to online programs:

  • The feasibility of offering current academic programs in a fully online or hybrid format
  • Satellite location feasibility for hybrid offerings
  • New program feasibility of an online-only program
  • Enrollment projection
  • Research with individuals who inquired, but failed to enroll in the institution

The assist our clients with this research, we’ve taken several approaches.

  • We’re conducting more program feasibility studies than ever before. RMS is talking to local employers, prospective students, and workforce development personnel about academic preferences and current labor market needs, and we’re reviewing labor data to uncover projections about future need.
  • Our clients are eager to locate affordable satellite locations for hybrid programs, and identify potential partnership opportunities with local businesses to reduce operating costs. Our team of experienced researchers is identifying potential locations, considering factors such as cost, occupancy rate, and availability (among others).
  • Interest in enrollment projections is also on the rise. Institutions want to know more than a level of interest among the target audience. They want to see a projection of future enrollment to provide a deeper understand of long-term viability.
  • More institutions are investing in research to understand the motivations behind the individuals who made an inquiry with the college but ultimately did not enroll in a course or program. Leveraging this pocket of the market allows institutions to convert those who have not yet enrolled elsewhere, or are dissatisfied with their experience at a competitor institution.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our higher education market research services, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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Central New York has long been revered as a great market for product and concept testing. You may have caught our previous blog post about the topic, where we discussed the market characteristics that make the city of Syracuse an ideal test market. We noted how Syracuse has a similar demographic composition to the United States population—the geographic isolation provides an advantage in terms of advertising exposure, and media advertising is more affordable here than in larger cities. The geographic isolation has not changed and advertising is still more affordable than in larger metropolises. However, being the curious researchers that we are, we wondered if the data still supports the area being a good test market option in terms of demographic composition. That curiosity led us to QuickFacts1, a data repository provided by the United States Census Bureau. We were pleased to find that a wider net than just Syracuse (Onondaga County) reflects the United States population as a whole. Below you will find several graphs illustrating the striking similarities across several US Census statistics. Essentially, in terms of gender, race, educational attainment, median household income, and owner occupied housing unit rate, Onondaga County is highly representative of the United States population.


  • The gender breakdown for Onondaga County is within one percentage point of the US population for both males and females.


  • Onondaga County closely reflects the US population race demographic, with the largest disparity being the Hispanic or Latino population.


  • The highest level of education achieved is also very similar among Onondaga County and the United States as a whole, with a mere four percentage point difference among the two for each education level.


  • The median household income of Onondaga County residents is remarkably comparable to that of the United States population, within $1,000!


  • The percentage of Onondaga County residents who live in a home they own is nearly identical to the United States population.

What does all this mean and why is it important? When developing a product, creating a concept, or introducing a new marketing campaign, it is critical to understand the behavior of the target audience. Implementing a market research project in a test market will allow you to determine the viability of the product, concept, or campaign on a wider scale. It will also provide vital feedback regarding your marketing strategy, customer response, and distribution channels. The most crucial component of choosing a test market is ensuring that it matches the target market in terms of demographics. The demographic similarities to the US population make Onondaga County a great test market for companies interested in rolling out products, concepts, or campaigns locally or nationally.

If you’re interested in learning more about utilizing Onondaga County as a test market, contact our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

1QuickFacts data are derived from: Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, Current Population Survey, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits.

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