Research Norms: What are they and what they can tell you
05 Dec 2019

Research Norms: What are they and what they can tell you

What are Research Norms? 

You have a survey result that says 67% of respondents state that the advertisement shown in the research is unique. What does that mean? Is that good compared to ads that are currently out there? That is where norms come in! 

In market research, norms (also called normative data or benchmarks) are established baselines to compare your data against. It allows you to determine if the results are above or below par. They are particularly popular in advertising and brand testing.

Going back to our initial example, two-thirds of respondents stating the ad is unique sounds excellent. But what if the norm for uniqueness is 80%? Consequently, 67% doesn’t sound so great anymore!

How Do We Get Norms?

To calculate and properly use norms, you have to use the same survey method and phrasing each time you run a survey. That way, the variables are the same over time, and there isn’t bias in your calculations. 

Norms can be established in multiple ways. You can have benchmarks against previous waves of your own research. A market research vendor can have an aggregate of all the surveys commissioned by clients that ask the same questions. These norms can also be sorted by industry.  

How Do We Use Norms?

We use norms to interpret the state of the market and how advertisements or concepts test relative to other ads or campaigns, respectively. 

Norms give market researchers the context to fully understand, interpret, and present new results based on the same standards. When working with a market research company, it’s essential to ask about the norms in their directory. If they do have norms you are looking for, you may want to include those norms in your survey. At Provoke Insights, we have a growing norms database, with answers on a wide range of attributes in an assortment of industries.

Issues with Norms

As with any market research method, if you aren’t too careful, you may misinterpret survey results and commit unfortunate blunders. From changes in trends to norms not testing the full competitive landscape, may negatively impact using these benchmarks. A blog post published by the Insights Association does outlines the issues to look out for when it comes to collecting and interpreting norms.  

However, overall norms can be beneficial in better understanding of how brands and advertisements compare against the rest of the market.

Want to read more from Provoke Insights, find some more blog posts linked below: 

Why Trends Are So Important In Marketing

Experiential Marketing & Retail

Check out an excerpt from our blog on why trends our important in marketing below!

“Let’s go back a few years to 2007. Especially, why don’t we think about GPS technologies. Back in the day, Garmin and TomTom were the two biggest GPS technology producers, and both were paid for services. But, both brands were sideswiped by Google who began offering free navigation via an iPhone app and on the web. As a result, in just 4 weeks, the valuation of these companies dropped! Can you imagine if these navigational systems had followed the trends that were happening outside of their narrow industry? Just imagine: we might be using our Garmin maps app on our phones for directions today! Thus, understanding trends is critical for a brand to stay fresh and competitive. ”

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