08 Sep 2016 19:11 IST

Tipping the scales in your favour

Here are a few measurement scales you can use to gauge consumer attitude

Attitude measurement is one area of market research that has seen thousands of pages of research papers dedicated to it. It is a concept that still gets B-School students into animated discussions on the merits and demerits of the various measurement scales taught to them.

The reason for all the attention is quite obvious — consumers are not easily typecast and their opinions are difficult to measure accurately.

But for now, let us put aside all the theory and take a simple look at what kind of measurement scales are most practical.

Common attitudes

The most common attitudes and opinions we try to measure are:

~ Whether a consumer likes a particular product or not

~ How he/she rates two products in comparison

~ Whether a consumer intends to buy a particular product or not

~ What qualities and benefits a consumer associates with each brand

Verbal rating scales

Consumers find verbal rating scales the easiest to respond to. An example is: I don’t like this product at all | I don’t like this product much | I like this product to some extent | I like this product very much.

Since it is close to the way they think, consumers find such scales easy to relate to. The results from such scales can be easily analysed through simple percentage calculations.

They can be used for most kinds of research situations, provided the scale options are carefully worded to capture the way consumers think. These scales may not quite satisfy certain textbook criteria of being interval scales, but they are useful in a practical sense.

Another good example of a verbal scale is the simple intention to buy: I will definitely not buy this product | I will probably not buy this product | I have not decided | I will probably buy this product | I will definitely buy this product.

Numerical scales

Since most of us grow up receiving marks in examinations, consumers are quite comfortable grading products. Numerical scales out of 10 or out of 100 are also simple to operate and easy to analyse. But they do suffer from one drawback — when a consumer gives (say) 7 out of 10 to a product, we don’t immediately know whether he means it as a good score or as an average score. Therefore, such scales are more useful when you compare two or more products.

Scales that involve ranking products or attributes are also used, but they can be counter-productive if you try to get any rank beyond three, since consumers will find that tiresome.

Disposition scale

Another useful verbal rating scale is the disposition scale. This involves showing the consumer a list of brand names, and asking her which of these she would really like to use, which she would accept as a substitute, which she would like to learn more about, and which she would never consider.

There are, of course, quite a few variants of this.

The above-mentioned scales are some simple examples that can be used in a wide variety of situations.

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