Social Marketing
Nutrition and Physical Activity


Step 2: Write Research Questions

Writing research questions before choosing a data collection method or developing an instrument will help you stay focused. If your team wants to get started with data collection, encourage them to wait. You only want to answer questions that you need to make decisions about your program. Those decisions commonly include the following*:

  • Whom to reach.
  • What behavior to recommend.
  • What benefits to offer.
  • What costs to lower.
  • Other factors you must address.
  • Places to offer the product.
  • Spokespeople to use.
  • Other aspects of the promotional strategy.

Some gaps are fairly straightforward, and you may be able to just turn them into a research question. Or, it may be helpful to get your planning team together to brainstorm ideas for research questions.

If you find yourself generating too many research questions, you can prioritize by referring back to the gaps you identified. Discard any questions that do not fill gaps. If you have several questions that address a similar topic, see if you can combine them into one broader question. The point is to avoid collecting too much information which can lead to "analysis paralysis" and make decision-making very difficult.

*From Obesity Prevention Coordinators' Social Marketing Guidebook