Brandspeak has compiled this market research glossary to provide definitions for some of the most commonly used research terms – we hope you find it useful. If you feel that key words or phrases are missing or in any way incomplete, please let us know so that we can keep evolving these pages.

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There are currently 16 names in this directory beginning with the letter S.
Sample / Sampling
The sample is a quantitative research term that refers to the group of individuals being researched – or sampled. A sample is configured to be representative of a larger population of interest meaning that research results based on that sample may be generalised to the whole of that population.

Sample Size
This term refers to the number of respondents within the sample. It is an important consideration as sample size will determine, in part, the credibility and reliability of the research results.

A screener is a brief survey comprising filter questions designed to determine whether or not an individual is eligible to take part in a specific market research project. The questions reflect the individual recruitment criteria agreed between the client and the research agency.

Secondary Research
This term refers the process of undertaking research using available (secondary) data, rather than commissioning and undertaking new research in to the subject

The process of exploring culture, interactions, behaviours, decisions, thoughts and opinions through the eyes of the subject.   Consumers respond to the prompts of a moderator, recording thoughts, feelings and decisions on a regular basis via online diary entries and by mobile video.

The word ‘semiotics’ comes from the Greek, ‘semei-’, meaning ‘sign’ and can be defined as ‘the science of signs’. As individuals, we all use semiotic systems on a daily basis as we make even the most basic decisions. For example, the words and phrases we select to express what we wish to say. The clothes and accessories we choose to wear when we get up in the morning. The food from the fridge that we judge best able to fulfil our needs at a given moment in time. All of these decisions are made using semiotics. Market research uses semiotics too, to help understand how individuals decode their environments – and ascribe meaning to the brands they use. This understanding can be invaluable in helping to create marketing communications that are able to conduct a dialogue with consumers at both conscious and subconscious levels.

Sentiment analysis
This term refers to the process of examining multiple online comments (potentially relating to an individual, a brand or a campaign) in order to determine the key, underlying sentiment(s) – whether positive, negative or neutral. Sentiment analysis is a key part of social listening.

Sequential Monadic Evaluation
This relates to the process whereby two or more products are evaluated in isolation, rather than in comparison to each other. Over the course of several (for example) groups or interviews, the sequence in which the products are introduced is changed to avoid ‘order bias’.

Shopper Intercepts
Shopper intercepts are a form of qualitative research conducted with customers who have just had an experience of the brand, or made a purchase, or who intended to make a purchase but ultimately failed to do so. Consumers are approached during or immediately after their ‘shop’ and then screened before being invited to take in a short survey either immediately – or at some date in the near future. The role of the intercept may be to: Evaluate the customer experience just received Ascertain reactions to a product sampling Focus on the brands that were under consideration Identify why no purchase was ultimately made For more on shopper intercepts from Brandspeak please contact or call +44 (0)203 858 0015

Simple Linear Correlation
Simple linear correlation is a measure of the degree to which two variables vary together, or a measure of the intensity of the association between two variables.

Social Media Listening
This involves the monitoring of social media channels for mentions of your brand, product, service, competitors – or indeed any other themes. As opposed to social media monitoring, social listening also involves the analysis of the information collected, in order to identify actionable insights and trends.

Social Monitoring
Like social listening, social monitoring involves the analysis of social media for news of specific brands, individuals or campaigns. However, social monitoring reflects a more passive data collection, focussing on what has already occurred, rather than (in the case of social listening) attempting to identify what could happen in the future.

Staff Research
Research carried out amongst employees of an organisation. The opinions, experiences and ideas of employees are often an extremely valuable and under-utilised source of insight which can be used to improve satisfaction amongst customers and employees alike.

Statistical Significance
Statistical significance is a mathematical tool used to determine whether the outcome of an experiment is the result of a relationship between specific factors or the result of chance.

Strategic Development Research
Qualitative research undertaken in order to identify insights capable of driving strategy development – usually in relation to the development of a (new) brand or marketing campaign. Strategic research will usually address the key strategic building blocks in real detail, including: Target customer: who they are, their needs, expectations, behaviours, points of reference, attitudes to your brand’s features and benefits Competitor brands: awareness and perceptions – both in isolation and in comparison to your own brand.

System 1 and 2 Thinking
Over recent years the concept of System 1 and 2 thinking has played an increasingly central role in our understanding of how consumers choose between brands and make purchase decisions. System 1 thinking is regarded as intuitive, emotional and immediate, whilst System 2 is deliberative, rational – and slower. It is estimated that 95% of our daily decisions are made using System 1 thinking. System 2 thinking is engaged for ‘bigger’ decisions that are likely to have greater consequences. It is also estimated that when instore 60% of shoppers will have already decided on the nature of the individual items they are going to buy – but not the specific brands. When in the relevant isle it is often System 1 thinking that is engaged to make the brand decision, with emotional cues being taken from visual elements such as the merchandising and packaging. At this point only a relatively small number of consumers will use System 2 to help them choose the brand. In this case the decision is like to involve more rational, deliberative criteria such as ingredients.