A How-To Guide to Creating Market Research Questionnaires | Koeeru Academy

Welcome to the first installment of Koeeru Academy, where we will be giving basic information about conducting market research, collecting customer information, and understanding your customers better. For this first issue, we will be looking at the most important question types when creating surveys.

When launching a market research survey, the most important and difficult part is designing the questionnaire. At first, you might think it easy to create a questionnaire that lets you find out about customer preferences in multiple countries, but the reality is quite different. Without experience, questionnaires can lead to poor or invalidated data, which we will show later. In this article, we’ll start with how to create a survey, including examples of various question types. If you are creating your first survey, we hope that you can reference this article as you go.

Table of Contents

  1. Set the Survey Theme
    • Decide what the purpose of your survey is
    • Decide the required number of responses, target countries, target populations, and other survey parameters
  2. Decide on which question formats you’ll be using and create the question texts
    • A variety of question types
    • Creating questions and option types that are suitable for translation
  3. Set the logic and fix the table of questions
    • Understanding questionnaire logic
    • Checking everything yourself for anything unnatural

1. Set the Survey Theme

Decide What the Purpose of Your Survey Is

As a first step, you need to be clear about what the survey is designed to find out. Without a clear purpose in mine, the survey tends to be cursory and will not provide any key information. This is a very important first step as it allows you to think backwards from your objectives when creating your questions.

Example Objective: To compare who is buying your products and for what purposes in major cities in Europe, the U.S., and Japan

Decide the Required Number of Responses, Target Countries, Target Populations, and Other Survey Parameters

Before writing any questions, you need to determine the countries where you survey will be run and the target audience. The number of countries and audience will be determined by the survey objective created in the last step. One thing to remember is that the larger the sample size, the more reliable the data is, but the higher the cost of the survey. This is because as you increase survey participants, the remaining available pool becomes scarcer and more costly. Thus, deciding your survey parameters is often a balance between objectives and cost.

Example Parameters:

  • Number of Respondents: 100 from each country
  • Target Countries: Japan, Germany, and the U.S.
  • Target Population: People who have purchased the company’s products

2. Decide on Which Question Formats You’ll be Using and Set the Question Texts

A Variety of Question Types

In creating your questionnaire, you must first decide what kind of questions you’ll be using. Below are the primary question formats.

Single Answer Questions

This question type asks participants to choose a single answer when responding. Example questions that use this question type include age or gender questions, along with questions framed as “Please choose the most applicable”.

Multiple Answer Questions

This type of question is for when you want respondents to select all the answer choices that are applicable to them. You can also use it for when you want them to, for example, select the top three.

Matrix Questions

These are used when you want respondents to answer multiple questions with the same answer choices. This type of question is often used to gauge satisfaction for a variety of things, or is used when respondents are asked to select applicability for multiple options. Depending on context, they can be either single answer matrix questions or multiple answer matrix questions.

Free Answer Questions

This question type is used when you want respondents to answer freely. For online surveys however, use this question type with caution, as free-answer questions tend to have a lower response rate and are much more difficult to tabulate than other question formats.

Creating Questions and Options that are Suitable for Translation

Once you have set the question formats, it is time to decide the question texts and answer options. For domestic surveys, questions can be written without much concern because they are prepared by native speakers for a domestic audience, but for international surveys, it is important to consider how the question will be translated and whether or not it breaches any taboos. Below are the main points to keep in mind.

Keep in Mind Basic Language Differences: Languages will often have huge structural differences that can make it difficult for direct translation. For example, in Japanese, the subject of the sentence is often omitted, and sentences can run-on for multiple lines, both of which can make the language difficult to translate into English. Working with translators to make sure that you balance accuracy and readability in the target language is essential.

Take Care When Translating Adjectives and Mimetic Words: Adjectives are particularly tricky, because direct translations often have a very different nuance between languages. Sometimes it is better to use a locally-used expression than a direct, word-for-word translation.

Have a Basic Awareness of Local Conditions: There are many cases where something that might be considered commonplace in your own country is completely unknown in another. A common example might be schooling, where the number of years in each type of school varies greatly between countries. Also, car driving cultures have a very different cultural norms to those who take public transportation everywhere. Decide your questions and answer options only after carefully researching local conditions in your target country.

Be Aware of Diversity: Many countries, like Japan, overwhelmingly consist of a single ethnic group, thus making questions related to ethnic background largely unnecessary. When targeting multiple countries however, awareness of diversity is key, as the needs of different ethnic groups often varies widely. Relatedly, concepts of gender and sexuality are more fluid America or Europe than in many other parts of the world, and many in these countries expect to have more choices than the binary male-female answer choices.

Set the Logic and Fix the Table of Questions

Understanding Questionnaire Logic

One of the complexities of designing market research questionnaires is determining the logic. Although seemingly simple, finding consistency in the order of the questions and subject matter to be answered is often difficult to get right.

For example, lets take a case where you ask about a respondent’s industry after asking their occupation.

  1. What is your occupation?
    • Student
    • Company Employee
    • Self-Employed
    • Civil Servant
    • Housewife/husband
    • Unemployed
    • Other
  2. What is your industry?
    • Finance
    • IT
    • Food-related
    • Transportation
    • Education
    • Entertainment
    • Other

In the above, people who are students, housewives, or unemployed may have a hard time answering question two. This often causes them to leave the survey, thus lowering your overall response rate. When setting the logic therefore, those who gave one of the above three answer choices for question one should be excluded from being asked question two. This is what it means to set the logic.

Checking Everything Yourself for Anything Unnatural

Once you’ve finished everything, the most effective way to check the survey logic is to do it yourself several times from the beginning to the end. Simulate various types of people, and hopefully you will be able to notice if anything is unnatural.


As you can see, creating a market research survey that is suitable for multiple overseas markets can be a bit tricky. We believe though, that if you keep the above points in mind, you’ll be able to quickly get the hang of it and create great surveys yourself.

Koeeru has on hand experienced international market research specialists who can give you advice and support for your survey needs. If you would like our help in supporting your survey, please feel free to contact us.

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