N3 survey: a new paradigm in marketing research

EC Column


Hello. My name is Oyama, and I am a consultant.
As data analysis continues to evolve, it is common practice to collect and analyze large amounts of data. However, the N3 survey I am going to introduce here turns this common practice on its head. Although it is a very small survey with a sample size of only 3 people (n=3), it is extremely effective. Today, let's delve deeper into the appeal and pitfalls of this N3 survey.

What is the N3 survey?

The N3 survey, as the name implies, is a survey technique with a sample size of three (n=3). This method offers deep insights and has the potential to bring new perspectives and ideas. Typically, marketing research involves surveying large samples to ensure data reliability and generalizability. However, the n=3 survey does the opposite and targets a small sample, which at first glance may seem unreliable.

Such small samples can provide detailed information on customer insights and reasons for behavior. The results can also be used to infer general consumer behavior patterns and trends, which can then be used to predict future market trends and product strategies.

Advantages of the N3 survey

  1. Cost and Time Efficiency
    Compared to large-scale surveys, N3 surveys are conducted on a small sample, which significantly reduces the time and costs associated with each phase of survey preparation, implementation, and analysis. For example, a large-scale market-wide survey requires a considerable amount of time for preparation and implementation, including the time needed to find the target respondents and to obtain responses from all of them. However, with the N3 survey, these times are greatly reduced, allowing more surveys to be conducted in the same amount of time.
  2. In-Depth Customer Understanding
    The N3 survey deeply analyzes information from a sample of three people to find common patterns and trends among them. Because we can spend more time on each person, we can gain a deeper understanding of customer needs, opinions, and feelings. Since large-scale surveys generally provide only superficial information, methods such as N3 surveys are effective in gaining a deeper understanding.
  3. Discovery of new perspectives and ideas
    Another major benefit of the N3 survey is its potential to uncover new perspectives and ideas. a limited sample of three people can provide new perspectives and ideas that stimulate the imagination. These can be important elements in the development of new products and marketing strategies.

Disadvantages of the N3 survey

On the other hand, the disadvantages of the N3 survey must be understood. Its most significant disadvantage is the lack of statistical reliability. Because the sample size is so small (three respondents), it is difficult to assert that the results are representative of the overall market.

While N3 surveys can provide in-depth information on individual customers, they also run the risk of being too biased toward individual customer perspectives. It is important to determine whether each of the statements is an opinion that has a cause specific to the survey target or one that could be generalized.

How to proceed with the actual N3 survey

So how exactly does the N3 survey proceed? first, we select a sample of three people to be surveyed. In this process, it is desirable to have experience in using the product or service for whatever purpose in selecting the target population. In addition, in selecting the subjects, we can get more diverse perspectives by selecting people with various backgrounds, such as gender, age, and place of residence.

Next, interviews or questionnaires are conducted with each subject. In order to gain insight, it is important to ask questions while being careful not to make the subjects too nervous, and to allow them to express their opinions and feelings freely.

After the survey, the interviews will be analyzed in detail based on the transcripts and recordings of statements and information obtained. The goal of this analysis is to find common trends and patterns among the subjects.

Finally, the results of the analysis are used to forecast overall market trends and product strategies. For this forecasting, it is advisable to refer to the results of other large-scale surveys and secondary information as well.


While N3 surveys have the advantages of cost and time efficiency, in-depth customer understanding, and the discovery of new perspectives and ideas, they also have the disadvantages of lack of statistical reliability and the risk of being too biased toward individual perspectives. However, by understanding these points and utilizing these methods in combination with other research methods, it is possible to construct more effective marketing strategies. We encourage you to try N3 research, marketing research from a new perspective.

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