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Principles of Marketing

Bias in Market Research



An important issue to address in market research is the matter of bias. Bias is the tendency of data to skew toward a particular direction. It is, normal for any research to have a certain amount of bias, but it is the job of researchers to minimize bias to the best of their abilities.

Bias is normal for researches because, by definition, a sample is a small portion of a population that tries to explain the entire population but this sample may not perfectly represent the population. Aside from this, the process of research itself can introduce biases as well.


A survey is conducted and the question is “Do you actually think that Brand X is better than Brand Y?” In such a question, the word actually becomes a “loaded” word that may bias or influence respondents toward saying “No” due to its subtle intimidation.

Other examples of biases:

  • Phone or online interviews. Respondents may not take these interviews too seriously because of the lack of actual contact.
  • Mail or email surveys. Only a particular kind of respondent may be motivated to actually mail the surveys back.
  • Questions regarding income. Respondents may either not actually know what their incomes are or, post a different figure due to fear of divulging such a personal bit of information.
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