On the Wild Side of  
Market Research

A monthly newsletter with market research tips and techniques for technology marketers and market researchers 
Welcome to the relaunch of On the Wild Side of Market Research, a monthly newsletter focused on helping marketers and market researchers improve their research projects. This month, I discuss whether or not to record interviews.

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Happy reading,
Why Not to Record Your Research Interview

I've recently discovered the joy of listening to podcasts in the car. I especially like NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" show, but I'm not always in the car when the show airs. But fortunately, it's available in a podcast.  


However, I have an old Subaru Legacy, and unlike my husband Jim's car, it doesn't have one of those fancy hook-up things (this is the technical name, I'm sure) for my iPhone.  I've tried listening with the speaker on, but it's just not loud enough.


My friend Cindy told me about a device that you can put in your cassette deck (Yes, my car does still have one of these-as I said, it's old! To be fair, in Target my husband and I did have a long discussion as to whether or not my car did in fact have a cassette deck, as I've never used it and couldn't remember.) Anyway, you put this in your cassette deck and hook up your iPhone and Voila! the sound goes through the car speakers.


And speaking of cassettes, should you use them (or your computer) to record a research interview? You're probably not using them to record music, are you??


While I've recorded many a research interview when it makes sense or the client requested it, I tend to prefer not to record. Why, you may ask? 

  1. Rapport. You want to build rapport with your interviewee, not make them feel like you are the phone (or heaven-forbid, the cable!) company "this call may be recorded for blah, blah, blah..."

  2. Honesty. In some states (check yours) you must tell the participant that you are recording the call. This can be alienating to some people.

  3. Better and more accurate information. I've also noticed that taking notes forces me to slow down and be sure to understand what the participant has said. Since I'm writing, I need to take a breath now and then to finish writing what the interviewee has said. This gives me (and the participant) a chance to gather my thoughts, and make sure I haven't missed anything or misunderstood something.

  4. More detailed information. No question, people are more relaxed and forthcoming when they think you're just chatting. I've had people supply sensitive information when they feel comfortable opening up, and a tape or digital recorder can get in the way of that.

  5. No participant worries about others listening. This is similar to #4, in that you're making your participant more relaxed and hence, more forthcoming, if they are not concerned with the client hearing exactly what you say. If there's a recording, who knows who will listen to it later? Though to be fair, I don't know of anyone that relaxes to market research interviews. And we're back to relaxing with podcasts....

The key is that you want to make your interviewee as comfortable as possible, and anything you can do, such as NOT recording, is likely to lead to better quality data, for you and your client.


There may be some situations where recording is warranted, but if you have a choice, just say NO!


What do you think? Do you prefer to record or not? Reply to this email and send me your thoughts. 


Have a favorite Podcast? Let me know! I've been listing to the TED Radio Hour and Freakonomics Radio lately.


Email Me 


Wild Image of the Month
Image by Carol Monaco, copyright 2015
As you may already know, I enjoy wildlife photography in my 'spare' time. This month, I've included an image of female bighorn sheep on the side of a mountain (with a huge drop below), taken in Montana.

Both males (rams) and females (ewes) have horns, although the males' are larger and can weigh as much as 30 lbs. They are able to easily climb rough mountain terrain (that would be a challenge for most skilled mountain climber), with the help of their excellent eyesight and split hooves with rough bottoms.

About MarketWise Insights, Inc.
Since 1999, I've completed over 100 research projects to help companies find and size the right markets for their products and services. I specialize in two areas:
  • qualitative research, specifically in-depth interviews, data analysis and report writing
  • market sizing, such as creating Excel models for revenue forecasting and market share studies

You can reach me at 303-659-8061 or at cmonaco@marketwiseinsights.com. 

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