GraphThe environment in which consumer research is conducted is as important to collecting unbiased responses as a solid questionnaire.

The proliferation of online survey research has brought with it the ability to create unique visual environments for respondents. Historically, Turnkey Intelligence has provided clients custom survey style sheets that feature brands’ color schemes and logos. Additionally, some clients opt to include player images, snapshots of their venues, etc.

Hypothetically, such enhanced style sheets should improve response and completion rates while providing consistency with the properties’ branding online and otherwise. However, the potential negative impact of such stimuli on respondents should not be overlooked. Player/venue images are not only distracting but could sway answers or influence some respondents to drop off the survey. An image of your favorite player next to team avidity, game attendance and viewership questions will likely make you overstate your fandom. Alternatively, if the image is one of a player you’d like to see traded, or one who just had a run-in with the law, it could have the reverse affect on your responses.

As such, Turnkey recommends an image-free survey background of one color that is easy on the eyes. A small logo in the survey header should be enough to indicate the property’s involvement in the project.

When it becomes important to communicate the unbiased, objective nature of the research project, Turnkey recommends elimination of all logos and branding.

The risk of biasing the research is the same when it comes to conducting focus groups on site at a team’s stadium, a special event’s site, etc. While the project would be more affordable if conducted at the property’s home base (rather than at a formal focus group facility), it’s hard to expect fans to give completely honest feedback on, say, customer service when they are given exclusive access to the luxury level of their favorite team’s stadium and are sitting next to a photo of last year’s championship team.

Should a team wish to conduct focus groups without incurring the costs associated with renting formal research facilities, Turnkey suggests restaurants with private seating areas, or even local library meeting rooms.