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Few people outside of researchers have noticed - or cared - about evolving preferences in data collection platforms, from mail to telephone to the Internet. But in marketing research circles, the online platform came of age in the late 1990s and has since climbed to almost 40 percent of all survey research now conducted in the U.S., a $1.4 billion a year industry. Most of the online research conducted has remained quantitative, while attempts to convert the in-person experience of individual in-depth interviews and focus groups into real-time electronic correspondence and online chat rooms have often proved to be poor substitutes.
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