Post on 10/02/2016 by Sealia Thévenau

Here’s a thought for you: ranking questions are not always about being number one.  I know… I’ve blown your mind.  No but really, this is important. 

When companies ask a question to consumers, of their own products or otherwise, about where they would rank their company in comparison to a list of other similar companies too often they are trying to achieve top status.  Ideally they would want for as many people as possible to think that their company, let’s call them “New Car Company,” makes the best cars on the market.  Here’s the strange thing, it doesn’t always pay to be on top, or at least New Car Company may not need to be shooting so high.  Instead they should calculate who their biggest competitor is within the real context of their share of the market and who target the same audience as them, and then they should strive to improve upon them.  This avoids having to compete with all the ‘bigger’ companies and concentrate on the company’s greatest competitor who is most likely to take clients away from them. 

Well, it turns out people who might buy from New Car Company are almost just as likely to buy from Ye Old Car Company because they sell a very similar product for a similar price-range.  New Car Company would then be more concerned with its ranking vis-à-vis to this main competitor, than to any other. 


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The ranking question would still have a similar format.  Using a drag and drop style ranking question allows the survey-taker to choose the order in which he ranks a list of companies.  Let’s give an example:

Well, it turns out that out of seven similar companies New Car Company is sixth.  Let’s assume that the overall survey average for this question places New Car Company in the fifth or sixth position.  If you looked at it from the point of view of trying to be the best company on the whole market, then this would be a negative result.  However, if the New Car Company consistently ranked higher than the Ye Old Car Company then this is in fact a positive result. 

The importance of these types of questions is that they allow researchers to determine relative ranking, conditionality of ranking, rather than merely the absolute ranking of the company in the eyes of consumers. 

For companies like New Car Company it may be more realistic, and more productive, to compare themselves to their main competitor rather than to the whole market. 

Relativity isn’t just a set of theories by Albert Einstein, it’s also something you should be thinking about while creating surveys or analysing your data. 

Happy survey creating and data analysis! Remember all things are relative! 


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