You have questions. Below, you'll find some answers to commonly asked questions about Nielsen Opinion Quest and market research in general. If we have not answered your question, please fill out the contact form here. We'll track down the answer and get back to you!

General Questions

Why are you calling me?

Nielsen Opinion Quest is a public opinion survey research firm. We called you to see if you had some time to answer some questions for one of our surveys or to see if you were available to attend a focus group (research discussion group).

How did you get my phone number?

Your phone number may have been pulled out of a phone directory, randomly generated by a computer, or provided by a client who wanted your opinion on their research project. You can ask the interviewer calling you how your number was selected for that specific project and they'll be able to confirm for you how we got your phone number.

Who exactly are you?

Nielsen Opinion Quest is a privately owned, Canadian public opinion survey research firm. Founded in 1988, we have field center offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, and a branch office in Chicago. We conduct surveys for private companies, the government and various organizations and associations.

Usually, we're conducting the survey on behalf of a client – either a survey research consulting firm or a specific company, government department, etc. They'll write the questionnaire and report on the findings, usually for an internal report or sometimes one that's published in the media, but we're generally not involved in that particular aspect. We do the legwork: calling people like you to find out what you think on the issues. Do you like certain products? Are you receiving good service? Have you seen some ads recently? What issues do you think are important?

Sometimes, instead of asking you the questions over the phone, we'll invite you into our office for a focus group – a round table discussion lead by a research professional. Here you'll get to talk about you opinions with a group of people.

Who is conducting the research?

Sometimes we have permission to tell you which company or organization is sponsoring a research project. The interviewer will let you know this either at the beginning of the survey, or, if the client did not want to bias some information, they may let you know at the end of the survey.

Other times the identity of the client remains anonymous to ensure that the information is not biased. Clients may also want to remain anonymous to protect their plans from competitors or because the research is private and not being published or distributed.

Ask the interviewer calling you if they can tell you who is sponsoring the research. They will be honest with you and tell you if they cannot, or, if they can, they'll let you know who is conducting the research.

Are you going to try to sell me something? / What's the difference between research and sales?

No – we're not going to try to sell you anything. We conduct survey research – we're only looking for your opinions and your feedback. We do not have any items or services to sell to you.

A legitimate research firm will not try to sell you anything. You may be asked what you like or dislike about a product or a service or an advertisement; you may even be asked whether you think you would buy it and how much you might pay for it, or you might be provided free-of-charge with a prototype to use and then asked some questions about it, but you will never actually be offered an item for sale in a group or interview. That would be against survey research ethical guidelines (specifically, it would be against "sugging", or selling under the guise of research).

How do I know that this is legitimate?

Legitimate survey research firms will be able to provide you with contact information, details on the company, and show you their involvement in the industry. If you have any questions not covered here, please fill out the contact form here and we'll get back to you.

Nielsen Opinion Quest is a 'Gold Seal' Corporate Research Agency member of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA). Gold Seal membership in the MRIA requires an annual audit and mandatory survey registration. Our membership and participation includes:

  • Participation in the Survey Registration system
  • Submission of focus group participant names to Qualitative Central
  • Yearly audit
  • Following MRIA Code of Conduct and Good Practice

Our registration number for the survey registration system is C033. We register all of our survey projects with the system. Our interviewers are instructed to inform you of this during the call and you can ask for the toll free number (1-800-554-9996) and the specific project registration number so that you can call and verify some details on the research, on Nielsen Opinion Quest, and about the survey research industry in general.

Nielsen Opinion Quest is also

  • An Associate Member of CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organizations)
  • A member of the Marketing Research Association (MRA)
  • A contributing member of the co-operative Canadian "Do Not Call" List managed by ASDE Survey Sampler

As well, various staff are individual members of:

  • MRIA - Marketing Research and Intelligence Association - and comply with the MRIA Code of Conduct and Good Practice
  • AMA – American Marketing Association
  • TTRA – the Travel and Tourism Research Association
  • ASAE The American Society of Association Executives

If you have any further questions, you can always fill out the contact form here and we'll get back to you.

Focus Groups

What is a focus group?

Focus group discussions bring together small groups (often six to ten people) to "focus in" on one topic that is of interest to a client. It's a type of round-table discussion lead by a research professional. The topic might be a new product or service, public issues, advertising, etc. You might be invited to participate in a group session or an individual interview conducted face-to-face at our office or other location, by phone, over the Internet, or by mail.

How was I selected for a focus group?

Methods for recruiting research participants differ. Sometimes participants are contacted by random calling from telephone directories or computer generated phone number lists; sometimes participants have given permission to be re-contacted from another research project; and sometimes other methods are used.

Participants are generally asked a few questions to see if they meet group requirements. For example, someone with no children would not be invited to a group about the safety of kids' toys. A person who is allergic to nuts would not be asked to come to a taste testing session where the product contains nuts. Please be honest and as accurate as you can when answering these questions. They'll help us make sure we have the right people, and a good mix of them, coming to the group.

We'll also check to make sure that you're available on the date and time that you can make it to the location, and, hopefully, ensure that you're interested and want to attend!

Can I say 'maybe' and decide later if I want to go?

If a couple people we are counting on don't show, it really affects the discussion dynamics and the research results. While we expect that some things come up unpredictably (you have to stay late at work, there's a family issue, etc.), we are looking for a fairly firm commitment to attend. Otherwise the groups might not work well and some other person who really wanted to attend will not get the opportunity.

Because the groups are small (6-10 people), the sessions fill up quite fast. As well, we try to give everyone we invite enough time to book the group into their schedule, so we generally need a firm commitment when we call you.

Often we will make note of 'back-ups' – people who qualified for the research but made the group too large, who weren't sure if they could attend, or are someone we can call last minute if another person cancels. We can put you on this list if you're not sure if you can attend. Please note that this does not guarantee you a spot in the group – we'll call you if we have space for you in the group.

What can I expect at a focus group?

First, please show up about 10 to 15 minutes before the group. This allows you to find the building, locate parking, and check in with the host. As well, if there are any forms to fill out, this allows you the time to do so. Often, people who show up late cannot participate in the groups. Time is short and important material may be covered in the first 5 minutes, so if you miss that, you'll disrupt the group and will most likely not be allowed into the session room.

Next, keep in mind that this is for research – the group organizing the session wants to find out something, so there will be a research professional at the session to guide the discussion. They will have some specific topic areas that they want to cover and will guide you and the other participants through the pre-determined material.

The group leader, or moderator, will inform you of any audio or video taping devices. These are used so that the moderator doesn't have to take notes during the session. They can watch or listen to the tapes afterwards when writing their report to recall the comments and discussions that occurred. You'll be asked to sign a permission and release form for the audio and/or videotaping as a condition of participating. The tapes will not be distributed to the public, will not be used to make advertisements, etc. They are confidential and used only for the research purpose. Please read the disclosure form before you sign to confirm these details.

There will be a large table and the room will usually have one-way mirrors. Assistants to the moderator and some of the individuals organizing the research may be viewing the session from behind the mirror. They are usually not in the group room because they might interfere or make you and the other respondents hesitate about voicing your honest opinions. Its hard to say you don't like mom's cookies when she's right there beside you, but you're more likely to be open about your views when she's not in the room.

The group often starts with a very brief introduction where the moderator goes around the table and asks each person their name and maybe something related to the group. Then the discussion begins.

The content and flow of each group is different – discussing an instruction manual is very different from taste-testing beer. This is the adventure part where you get to experience it first-hand.

How long is a focus group?

The length of the sessions vary – please ask how long when we call to invite you. The session could be 30 minutes, or it could be 3 hours. Please plan to stay for the whole group - you'll need to stay for the entire session to receive the thank-you honorarium. If you have to leave early, we cannot provide it to you.

What is an honorarium and what/how much is it?

Usually, when you attend a focus group, an honorarium is provided. This is a 'thank-you' for participating in the research session.

Sometimes it's a book, a gift certificate, or perhaps another item provided by the research client. Often its cash, and the amount varies depending on the project budget or on any requirements for you to do advance preparation.

Please clarify in advance with our representative if there is an honorarium and what it is. No substitutions or alterations are made at the group. And please note that you need to qualify and participate in the full session to receive the honorarium.

Please note that the honorarium is just a 'thank-you' – it is not payment for services rendered, nor is it payment as an employee.

Will there be anything to eat?

Again, please ask us about this when we call to invite you. Some sessions provide sandwiches, others cookies, and some sessions do not provide any food.

Do I need to bring anything to the groups?

If you need glasses for everyday use or reading, you should bring them.

We'll ask to see photo ID to make sure that we let only those people we've spoken with into the group – we don't want to let someone else take your place and have to turn you away – so please do bring photo identification.

Some groups may ask you to do some prep work – read some material sent to you in advance, bring some ads you like to the group, etc. Please don't forget to bring the information or materials to the group

If I can't make it, can I send my friend?

No. We won't be able to let them attend the session. We haven't asked them the screening questions and cannot be sure they'll qualify. Instead, please call us in advance at the number we gave you to let us know you can't make the session

If I say 'no' to this group, will you ever call me again?

Sure we'll call you again – if you've told us you're interested, we'll contact you for another group that is looking for people like you.

But if you don't want us to call for any future groups or surveys at all, please let the interviewer know. They'll make a note and we'll add you to an appropriate Do Not Call list.

How can I or my friends sign up for focus groups?

You can sign-up with Nielsen Opinion Quest in any one of the following ways:

Online, you'll be asked to provide some background information – this helps us know which groups we should call you for. If you don't want to fill this out online, call us and leave a message with your name and phone number. We'll call you back and run through the background questions on the phone.

Then you can participate in qualitative research by answering screening survey questions when our representative calls you. This screening questionnaire matches prospective respondents with the characteristics required for the specific research project (such as first-time moms with infants, retirees who use online brokerage accounts, office managers who select shipping services, etc.)

Please note that you should never have to pay money to attend a research focus group or to get on a legitimate research focus group list.

Online Panel & Online Surveys

How can I sign up for online surveys?

Nielsen Opinion Quest's online panel is managed by our parent company, Harris Interactive.  You can sign-up by clicking here and filling out the screening information.

Then we'll send you an email invitation to a survey. For some surveys, there may be a few questions to see if you meet the project criteria.

Please note that you should never have to pay money to participate in online survey research with a legitimate research firm

For more Q&A on our online surveys, please click here.

Privacy & Confidentiality  

What are you doing to respect my privacy?

Nielsen Opinion Quest follows the ethical standards and best-practice guidelines for survey research. We also adhere to the various privacy laws and regulations. We do not sell or disclose names, phone numbers or other personal information. Please see our online privacy section for more information on our privacy policies and practices.

How are my answers used?

The survey data we provide to our clients is given in aggregate form – meaning your name is not attached, and your answers are 'lumped' in with everyone else's.

Usually we ask some demographic profile questions, such as your age, gender, education background, etc. This is used for categorizing and analyzing the aggregate data. For example, we'll be able to see that people aged 18 to 34 tend to like a certain product, while those aged 35 and older do not. But no one will know which answer is yours.

How do I know you won't sell my phone number or information?

As a professional survey research firm, we would never sell or distribute your name, phone number or personal information to another organization. It is unethical and goes against Privacy Laws, as well as the survey research standards to which we adhere.

If we know we're doing some follow-up research, we'll ask for your permission to call you back. We'll save your name and phone number until the research project takes place and then we'll call you again at that time. If our client is conducting the follow-up research, for example a 1-on-1 interview, we'll ask your permission to give your name and phone number to them. If you do not wish to participate in the follow-up research or to have us provide your name to the client, just let us know this when we ask. We respect and follow your requests, as well as your privacy.