Surveying a population—be it consumers, businesses, policy makers, government officials, etc.—is a good way of gauging the opinions, attitudes, or evidence of behavior of targeted populations by means of a questionnaire designed specifically for that purpose.
Questionnaires are personally administered by professional interviewers, typically in shopping malls, or on the telephone or, as it is done in more than half the studies completed these days, online via the Internet.
Surveys must be designed according to established scientific protocols to allow their results to be projected to the population of interest.
Survey results are very important in trademark infringement litigation and other areas of the law where it is impractical to put hundreds, thousands, or millions of people on the witness stand, if the alleged infringement is said to affect an entire population rather than a single entity. Given their critical role in litigation, the quality of surveys is of paramount importance.
The branch of business theory called consumer behavior is the study of consumer decisions based on the choices presented by the market.
Those decisions occur on three principal levels: (1) buying vs. not buying (at this time, or ever); (2) buying product A vs. product B; and (3) choosing brand A vs. brand B. Consumer decisions also cover the distribution channel one chooses to shop at and/or buy from, price-value calculations, the time allotted for making up one’s mind, staying loyal to a brand vs. shopping around, etc.
Business litigation often involves actions that affect directly or indirectly how businesses present choices in the market place. Businesses naturally attempt to affect consumer choice behavior—trying to tilt consumer inclination in their favor. It is precisely when there is an allegation of having “gone too far” that litigation is being triggered.
The study of consumer behavior is covered in multiple academic marketing journals.
Online interviewing has rapidly risen to the top tier of data collection methods in commercial marketing research as well as in litigation research. Its widespread acceptance by courts and its advantages, which far outweigh its limitations, are responsible for the growing use of online data collection.
Online interviewing offers significant advantages in terms of access to large and diverse populations, cost and quick turnaround without sacrificing sampling accuracy and reliability of results.