Marketing Research Glossary - S
Safe Harbor: The International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, a set of privacy regulations created by the European Union and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Decision Analyst was the first U.S. research company to be approved under this Safe Harbor Agreement. The agreement allows approved U.S. research firms to transfer data from the E.U. to the U.S.
Sales Lead Classification Model: Used in Predictive Analytics, a sales lead classification model uses mathematical formulas to identify the sales prospects with the highest sales or profit potential. Learn More
Sales Forecasting: The process of predicting sales for an industry, company, or individual product or service. Short-range and long-range forecasting tools can help companies understand the fundamental forces that drive their sales nationally and regionally. Learn More
Sample: A subset of the population or universe. Typically, the sample is pulled using random methods, so that everyone has an equal chance of inclusion.
Sample Augment: See Augment.
Sample Balancing/Weighting: After a study is complete, sometimes the sample is different from the target population in terms of age, income, geography, gender, etc. Many different methods are used to weight or balance the sample and/or the results. The most widely used method, RIM-Weighting, was developed by Dr. W.E. Deming.
Sample Design: The planned composition of a sample and sampling plan so that the characteristics of a population can be measured with known estimates of error.
Sample Design Error: Systematic error that results from an error in the sample design or sampling procedures. This type of error usually prevents generalizing experimental results to the intended population of interest, and may even render any results completely invalid.
Sample Distribution: A frequency distribution of all the elements of an individual sample (for example, by age, income, geographic area, etc.).
Sample Frame: Also called Frame or Sampling Frame. A list of the target population for a survey. The list or frame is the database of potential respondents from which the sample is drawn. For example, the list of owners of horses would be the frame from which to pull a sample to survey horse owners.
Sample Population: The population from which the sample is pulled. Also called Sampling Universe.
Sample Size: The number of people to be surveyed or included in the research project.
Sample Space: The collection of all possible outcomes of an experiment.
Sampling: The method and process of selecting a subset, a sample, from a population or universe.
Sampling Cell: The individual elements (cells) that make up a sample. Sometimes called a Cell.
Sampling Distribution Of A Proportion: An approximately normal distribution that describes the values a proportion may attain if all possible samples of a given size were to be drawn from a particular population.
Sampling Distribution Of The Mean: A frequency distribution of the means of many samples drawn from a particular population.
Sampling Distribution Of The Sample Statistic: A probability distribution that describes the values a statistic (such as a Mean or Variance) may attain if all possible samples of a given size were to be drawn from a particular population.
Sampling Error: The estimated error range of the results of a survey using a sample.
Sampling Formula: A formula based on the desired number of completes, the incidence, the acceptance, and the type of sample that Decision Analyst uses to calculate the number of sample records needed for a survey.
Sampling Fraction: The proportion of the universe represented by a sample.
Sampling Frame Error: A type of nonsampling error in a survey caused by a sampling frame (i.e., a list) that is not a perfect representation of the population or universe. That is, the sample list might contain respondents who do not meet the definition of the population or universe.
Sampling Interval: The nth number interval is derived by dividing the total number of units by the sample number desired. If every 5th telephone number is chosen, for example, the sampling interval is 5. The sampling interval is important in pulling Systematic Samples.
Sampling Plan: A detailed form that states the sampling requirements for a survey. At Decision Analyst, exacting attention is paid to the sampling plan, and the person in Client Service heading up the study must approve the sampling plan.
Sampling Strata: See Strata.
Sampling Unit: The elements available for selection during the sampling process.
Sampling Universe: The set of all the units from which a sample is drawn. Also called Sample Population.
SatisfactionAudit™: SatisfactionAudit™ is a review of the clients’ current satisfaction and loyalty measurement systems and data, how those satisfaction and loyalty systems and data are used within the clients' organization, and how the satisfaction and loyalty systems and data interact with other marketing variables.
Satisfaction Research: See Customer Satisfaction Research.
Satisficing: Survey respondents who take shortcuts to complete the survey faster and more easily (e.g., underreporting number of brands). Also, in online research, checking off random boxes within grid questions or not thoroughly reading questions. Learn More
Saturation Survey: A survey where as many members as possible of a population of interest are contacted. Similar in meaning to Census.
Scale: A set of symbols, numbers, words, or phrases to measure consumer responses to a question in a survey.
Scaled-Response Questions: A set of answer choices designed to measure the intensity or degree of the respondent's answer. The answer choices “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “poor” are a scaled-response example.
Scanners: Devices that read the UPCs (universal product codes) on packages and automatically calculate the checkout prices.
Scoring Model: A set of mathematical equations used to assign individuals to a customer segment.
Screened Internet Sample: Self-selected sample group in which quotas are imposed, based on some desired sample characteristics.
Screener Sweepstakes Or Drawings: When a Decision Analyst panel member completes the screener portion of a study, that person is entered into a drawing for cash prizes, whether or not they qualify for the follow-up survey.
Screening: The process of asking specific questions to determine if respondents are eligible or qualified for a particular study.
Screenout: Respondents who do not meet the demographic or usage criteria to permit them to take part in a survey.
Secondary Data: Data that has been previously gathered and published (e.g., government data, data published in magazines).
Secondary Research: The analysis of information from previously conducted research projects. See Primary Research.
Sectional Center Facility (SCF): Geographic areas represented by the first three digits of a zip code.
Security Question: Also known as Critical Industry Restriction or Security Screen. A screening question to exclude potential respondents who are employed in marketing and advertising industries, or employed in an industry directly related to the topic of the survey.
Security Screen: See Security Question.
Segment: A subset of a population or universe. Term is often used to describe a targeted group of consumers (i.e., a target market segment). Learn More
Segmentation: See Market Segmentation.
Selection: The process of choosing sampling records from a population using specific criteria and methods.
Selection Bias: Systematic differences between the test group and control group (or between sample and population) due to some bias in the way the sample was selected.
Selection Error: Error that results from incomplete or improper sampling procedures.
Selective Perception: The tendency of a listener or reader to filter out (i.e., not hear or see) some information for conscious or subconscious reasons, or to be more attentive to and receptive to certain messages (while ignoring other messages).
Selective Research: Research used to test decision alternatives.
Self-Administered Questionnaire: A questionnaire filled out by the respondent (with no interviewer to ask the questions).
Self-Selection Bias: A type of nonsampling error that occurs when respondents who chose to participate in a research project are systematically different from the intended sample.
Semiotics: The theory of signs and symbols in language and the meanings they convey. In marketing research, semiotics is used to identify and evaluate the true meaning that underlies consumers’ linguistic responses, to decode their cultural frames of reference and behaviors. It employs special techniques to overcome the problems of conditioned or expected responses, and provides a deeper understanding of consumers’ motivations.
Semistructured Data Sets: A dataset that does not conform to a formal structure but does contain tags or markers that separate pieces of data. Examples of semistructured data include xml files, emails, and text files.
Sensory Test: An examination of some or all aspects of products as perceived by the five senses. Sensory research is a term most commonly associated with food and beverage taste testing and product testing. Learn More
Sentence Completion Test: A projective technique that asks respondents to complete partial (or incomplete) sentences in their own words. This technique can be used in focus groups, depth interviews, or regular surveys. Also called Story Completion Test. Learn More
Sequential Monadic Testing: A testing procedure in which a respondent uses one product, evaluates it, and answers related questions, then uses and evaluates a second product and answers questions related to the second product. The order of testing the two products is rotated or randomized. This method provides good diagnostic information on each product. Whenever possible, Decision Analyst recommends monadic testing of products, to avoid the possible interaction effects (and biases) between the two products. Learn More
Server: A computer that provides services to other computers. When hosting a survey, it’s very important that server capacity is adequate to handle the volume of incoming surveys. Decision Analyst maintains the server capacity to conduct tens of thousands of surveys per day, so that respondents never experience wait times. When server capacity is limited, it can block some respondents and potentially bias the survey results.
Sex Ratio: The number of males per 100 females in a population.
Share Of Market: A brand's share (percentage) of the total market for similar types of products, typically measured by dollar sales and/or number of units sold. Depending on how the total market (i.e., the category) is defined, a brand's share of market can vary tremendously.
Shelf Set: The category retail display in 3D animation or virtual shopping. Decision Analyst's Logician® Shelf Set software allows category displays to be created quickly, showing all of the SKUs in the category with related pricing. This software allows prices, packages, messages, facings, shelf position, etc. to be experimentally varied during the conduct of a survey. Also, the shopper can “pick up” a package to see it close-up, or look at back and side panels with a click of the mouse. Learn More
Shop-Along: The interviewer accompanies a respondent (with his or her agreement) as that person goes shopping. Some times called Accompanied Shopping.
Shopper Insights: The term “shopper insights” refers to marketing research focused upon the in-store and near-store behavior and experiences of consumers. In particular, it is an in-depth study of the influences and factors within the retail environment that shape consumer perceptions and behaviors. Learn More
Shopper Patterns: Drawings or diagrams that portray a shopper’s path through a store. Learn More
Shopping Center Repositioning: A repositioning and renewal research study that evaluates the market around a shopping center, retail property, or other real estate development. The goal is to revitalize and renew the shopping center. Learn More
Shopping Research: See Shopper Insights.
Short Census Form: U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire that all U.S. residents answer every 10 years.
Show Cards: A type of prompt material in the form of cards with images, words, scales, pictures, etc., that are shown to participants during in-person research surveys. Also called Answer Cards or Prompts.
SIC Code (Standard Industrial Classification): Classification of a business according to industry as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, using a four-digit code,. For some purposes, fewer than eight digits may be used. This system has been superseded by a new classification system, NAICS (North American Industry Classification System), though many industries and organizations still use SIC codes.
Sigmoid Curve: An S-shaped curve. Some form of sigmoid is often use d as a transformation to allow the dependent variable to trend towards 100% or 0% but never actually get there.
Significant Difference: A difference between two numbers, or two percentages, that is too great to have occurred purely by chance.
Simple Random Sample: Sample selected in such a way that every element of the population has an equal, nonzero probability of inclusion in the sample.
Simulated Purchase: Typically, respondents are asked to make “purchases” from a simulated store. Decision Analyst is a world leader in purchase and shopping simulation, and has developed extensive software and systems for this purpose.
Simulated Sales Test: A procedure designed to estimate a product’s sales potential by simulating trial-and-use conditions during the survey process.
Simulated Shopping: A realistic virtual environment that emulates the retail shopping experience in an online survey. Learn More
Simulated Test Market (STM): Survey data and mathematical models used to simulate test-market results. Learn More
Simulation: A model composed of mathematical and logical relationships designed to mirror a real-world system and predict how a brand or product would perform in the marketplace. Learn More
Simulation Shelf Set: See Shelf Set.
Single-Number Research: A reference to placing too much emphasis on a single statistic. For example, many researchers believe that the net promoter score places too much emphasis upon a single question.
Single-Response Grid (SG): A question type in grid format that accepts one response per row. See example below.
Single-Response Question: A question that asks respondents for only one answer.
Single-Source Research: A research database, derived from scanner data, supposedly containing all relevant marketing data at the household level. When single-source data first became available, it was widely heralded as the universal replacement for all types of marketing research. These predictions proved overly optimistic.
Site Evaluation: The determination, through an analysis of a given geographic area’s demographic and economic characteristics, whether a retail site offers sufficient market potential for a given retail store.
Situation Analysis: The beginning section of a marketing plan that focuses on understanding the economic environment, the market, and the product category, as well as competitive threats.
Skewed: A frequency distribution whose curve has one tail longer than the other. In other words, the distribution is not symmetrical about its mean. If the left tail is longer than the right, it is skewed left, or vice versa.
Skip Pattern: The respondent's pathway through a questionnaire is dictated by answers to certain questions. That is, respondents skip over certain questions in response to their answers to earlier questions.
SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit): An individual package size and product type, or the unique number assigned to that package. For example, a 12-ounce glass bottle of Heinz Ketchup would be one SKU, and have its own assigned SKU number for data and inventory management purposes. A 28-ounce glass bottle of Heinz Ketchup would be another SKU and have its unique code number, and so on.
Stock-Keeping Unit: See SKU
Snowball Samples: Samples in which the selection of additional respondents is based on referrals from initial respondents.
Social Desirability: The tendency for respondents to give answers that are socially desirable or socially acceptable, but not necessarily true. This type of bias is especially likely when the survey is administered by an interviewer.
Social Networking Models: Statistical probability models that are built off of big datasets from social networks and predict the probability of a social connection between pairs of people.
Socioeconomic Groups: Groups of people clustered together based on income, occupation, and education of household head and/or household members.
Soft Launch: The practice of beginning an online survey with a small percentage of the sample. This allows the researcher to confirm that the survey is working correctly before the bulk of the sample is released.
Solomon Four-Group Design: Research using two experimental groups and two control groups. Two groups receive a pretest and a posttest. Two groups receive only a posttest. This design controls for the potential effects of the pretest on the outcome.
Spam: Unsolicited email.
Span Table (Data Entry): A table that lists answers in a table by “spanning” across the columns of the raw data. The answer and frequency are listed as answer stubs.
Spanish Origin: In U.S. survey practice, there are several definitions of the term. In general, it refers to a person of Hispanic origin or descent. Much confusion arose in the 1980 U.S. Census because people identifying themselves as Hispanic did not do so consistently. So, in the 1990 U.S. Census, a space was provided for respondents to specify their background, such as Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on. The new format provides those targeting the Hispanic market with richer detail on the diversity of their consumers.
Spatial Mapping: Visual representations of market and economic data and its spatial relationship to a development site, store location, or shopping center. Learn More
Spearman's Rank-Order Correlation: Correlation analysis technique for use with ordinal data. The resulting coefficient is a standardized measure of the extent to which the data covary.
Specifications: The criteria for participants to be selected for inclusion in a focus group, involving their demographic characteristics, product usage, product awareness, and so on. The term “specifications” is also used as generalization for study specifications shown in a proposal or research agreement.
SPFPC: Text editor used in Decision Analyst's Data Entry Department.
Split Run: A technique in advertising research that involves placing an advertisement in one form in half of the copies of a given publication and in another form in the other half. The purpose is to compare the relative effectiveness of the two forms of advertisement.
Split-Half Technique: A method of assessing the reliability of a scale by dividing respondents into two groups and correlating the results between the two groups.
Spontaneous (Unaided) Awareness: The percentage of respondents who claim to have seen or heard something (e.g., brand or advertisement) unprompted (without and verbal or written stimulus). For example, unaided awareness could be measured by the request, Please list all the brand names of peanut butter you can think of.
SPSS (Statistical Package For The Social Sciences): A statistical software program.
Spurious Association: A variable that happens to vary along with changes in the dependent variable, but is not really a causal variable.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Technology: Computer encryption system that secures sensitive information. All Decision Analyst surveys and panels are protected using SSL technology.
Stability: The consistency in results from test to retest. The term Reliability tends to have the same meaning.
Standard Deviation: The square root of the sum of the squared deviations from the mean, divided by the number of observations minus one.
Standard Error: A measure of the sampling error present in a survey as a function of sample size.
Standard Error Of The Mean: The standard deviation of a distribution of sample means.
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code: The U.S. Census Bureau defines classification categories (industries) for U.S. companies. These were formerly called SIC codes, but are now called NAICS codes. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a new economic classification system that replaces the 1987 SIC system for statistical purposes. Like the SIC, NAICS is a system for classifying establishments by type of economic activity. Although the principles of the system are the same as for the SIC system, individual industry classification numbers are longer (6 digits) and may vary considerably from the SIC codes. This new system was developed jointly by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, to make international comparisons easier. Starting with federal data collected for 1997 in the U.S. and Canada and 1998 for Mexico, the new NAICS codes apply. The 1997 Economic Census was the first to use the new system. The official notice announcing the implementation of the NAICS provides an excellent explanation of the new system and its origins.
Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA): An outdated term. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) created the original name and definition. Standard definitions of metropolitan areas were first issued in 1949 by the then Bureau of the Budget (predecessor of OMB), under the designation standard metropolitan area (SMA). The term was changed to standard metropolitan statistical area (SMSA) in 1959, and to metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in 1983. The term metropolitan area (MA) was adopted in 1990 and referred collectively to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSAs), and primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSAs). The term core-based statistical area (CBSA) became effective in 2000 and refers collectively to metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas.
Standard Normal Distribution: A normal distribution with a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one.
Stapel Scale: A scale, ranging from plus five to minus five, that requires the respondent to rate how close various adjectives come to accurately describing a given concept, product, or brand. The whole concept of negative numbers is not widely understood among the general population in the U.S., so the use of this scale is not generally recommended.
Starting Point: The first number selected for an nth interval sampling process. See Systematic Sampling.
Static-Group Comparison: A pre-experimental design that uses an experimental group and a control group. However, subjects or test units are not randomly assigned to the two groups and no premeasurements are taken.
Statistic: A percentage calculated from a sample. A percentage based on a census is called a Parameter.
Statistical Control: Adjusting for the effects of confounding variables by statistically adjusting the value of the dependent variable for each treatment condition.
Statistical Inference: The process of using statistics and random sampling to make inferences about a sample, population, or universe.
Statistical Power: The probability of not making a Type II error; i.e., the probability of rejecting the Null Hypothesis when it is false, or of finding an Experimental Effect when it is present. Type II error is usually termed "beta;" power is then "1-beta."
Statistical Significance: The probability that a measured difference between two statistics (percentages or means) is due to a real difference, instead of chance variation.
Statistics: The science of organizing, classifying, and analyzing data, with the ultimate objective of drawing sound conclusions from the data.
STATS™ 2.0: Decision Analyst STATS™ 2.0 is an interactive statistical package designed and developed by Decision Analyst. It performs significance tests and frequently uses statistical procedures. Learn More or Download STATS™ 2.0
STM: See Simulated Test Market
Stochastic Process: A random process; a process controlled only by chance.
Store Audit: The process of measuring sales of a product by physically counting beginning inventory, adding sales of the product based on store records for the specified time period, and subtracting ending inventory, based on a physical count. This process is generally repeated across a sample of stores and projects to the total universe of stores.
Story Completion Test: A projective technique that asks respondents to complete partial (or incomplete) stories in their own words. The technique can be used in focus groups, depth interviews, or regular surveys. Also called Sentence Completion Test. Learn More
Storyboard: A set of small pictures or illustrations to communicate the plan for a proposed commercial. Typically, a storyboard consists of a series of rough pictures, along with a description of the action taking place in each picture or frame. Storyboards can be used in advertising testing. Learn More
Straightlining: A symptom of respondent fatigue or disinterest, especially in online research, when the same response is clicked for all questions in a question block without the respondent apparently reading the question. See also Christmas Tree Pattern.
Strategic Attribute Mapping: Graphical displays of the importance of brand attributes and performance of a brand for the same attributes to identify which attributes are strategically important to a business. This type of graphical display is most used in marketing segmentation studies. Learn More
Strategic Market Plan: Also known as Asset Optimization. A strategic market plan determines the optimum locations for productive and profitable stores in a selected market or geographic area. Learn More
Strategic Partnering: A relationship in which two or more firms form an alliance to offer a new service for clients, provide strategic support for each other, or in some other manner create mutual benefits. Strategic partnering is generally not a legally defined relationship like a partnership or joint venture.
Strategy And Insights Departments: See Corporate Marketing Research Departments.
Strategy Research: Research done to help a company optimize, refine, and improve the direction the company will pursue within its chosen market and guide the allocation of resources and effort. Learn More
Stratified Random Sample: A sample obtained by dividing the population into groups called strata (like “men” and “women”), and then taking simple random samples from each of the strata. This improves sampling accuracy.
Structural Equation Modeling: A statistical technique for determining the extent to which data from a set of variables are consistent with a hypothesis about a casual association among those variables. Learn More
Structured Observation: A study in which an observer fills out a questionnaire form or counts the number of times various activities occur.
Stub Title: The title that appears above the stub labels (the answer labels) for a stub in cross-tabulation tables.
Student’s T-Distribution: The Student’s t-distribution is symmetrical around zero, and its general shape is similar to that of the standard normal distribution, but with thicker tails. It is most commonly used in testing hypotheses, especially for small samples.
Study Debriefing: A meeting scheduled by Decision Analyst after a project is completed to review outcomes and discuss how to improve for the future.
Subblock: Along with enumeration districts, the smallest segment of the country for which the U.S. Census Bureau provides demographic data.
Subjective Question: A question that has no prelisted answers. It requires the respondent to answer in his or her own words. Also known as an ““open-ended question.”
Subsample: A subset of a sample. Females would be a subsample of a total population sample that included males, for example.
SuccessScore®: SuccessScore® is a mathematical model to predict the success of new products in ConceptTest®. Learn More
Suffix Type: An attribute that can be “Letters” or ““Numbers.” At Decision Analyst, the suffix added to a question, say for Q1 repeated 3 times, would be “Q1_1, Q1_2, Q1_3” for numbers, or “Q1_A, Q1_B, Q1_C” for letters. Letters will move to double digits (AA, BB, CC, etc.) when the repeat count moves above 26.
Sugging: Selling under the guise of marketing research. Marketing under the guise of marketing research is Mugging.
Sum Of Squares: The sum of the squared deviations from some value (or series of values), usually a mean or series of actual or theoretical values. Used as a metric of the variation explained by the predictors in a regression model and as a metric of the variation due to error, where it is called the Error Sum of Squares.
Sunbelt: The U.S. Census regions comprised of the Southeast, Southwest, and West.
Supervisor’s Instructions: Written directions prepared by Decision Analyst for subcontracted Field services on exactly how the survey is to be conducted and managed.
Supervised Principal Components: A data reduction regression technique that uses only a subset of variables selected based on their empirical association with an outcome.
Support Vector Machine: In machine learning, a support vector machine is a type of predictive modeling that is robust to outliers and is very compact and efficient when used for prediction.
Surrogate Information Error: Error that results from a discrepancy between the information needed to solve a problem and that sought by the researcher.
Survey: The systematic collection of data from a sample of respondents, either self-reported or via an interviewer or observer. The term Study is often used in place of survey.
Survey Instrument: The questionnaire or data collection document.
Survey Manager™: A software application developed by Decision Analyst, used to pull data for Internet studies.
Survey Objectives: The decision-making information sought through the process of a survey.
Survey Research: Research based upon structured questionnaires, scientific sampling, and large samples of respondents.
SWOT Analysis: The letters stand for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A SWOT analysis is often the first step in preparing a marketing plan or business plan.
Syndicated Data Or Services: Companies that collect, process, package, and sell survey or retail sales data to many different clients. Learn More
Systematic Error: Error that results from a flawed research design or execution.
Systematic Selection: The selection of sampling units (respondents) on lists by choosing every nth person or unit.
Systems Orientation: The creation of systems to monitor the external environment and deliver the desired marketing mix to the target market.
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