When preparing for market research, you tend to spend a lot of time evaluating what you can ask your market audience. However, you spend less time looking at how you can frame your questions in order to get reliable feedback from your respondents. Besides, choosing between a rating scale and a ranking scale when preparing for survey questions is one of the most challenging aspects.

The mode in which the question is presented to the respondent impacts the results you get and how you can use the information collected. The best way to tackle this scenario is to understand the difference between a rating and a ranking scale. This blog post offers a detailed picture reflecting on what makes these two aspects different. Let’s check it out!

What is a Ranking Scale?

A ranking scale is used to force the respondent to rank a list of particular items with only a single selection in every rank. In most cases, the ranking scale question mostly asks the respondent to rank the topic of discussion depending on their preference. However, you can be creative with the ranking criteria you choose to use.

You can decide to ask your respondents to rank some of the new features based on their importance or their likelihood of purchasing the products. The secret is to ensure you get reliable information that you can use to make decisions that will enhance the success of your business. By twisting your questions, you are likely to get more reliable information that is vital on the growth of your business.

When to Use a Ranking Scale Question?

It reaches a point in life where you start arguing with your friends or team members about what you intend to do. For instance, you can discuss with friends about the best place that you can go for lunch. This is the best time when you can use a ranking scale question to help you to help you come up with the final solution.

Similar to the Likert scale, the ranking scale question offers you a great strategy to use when concluding. If you realize that you have raised a question that has not yielded the desired results, you need to change your approach. When you want to go and grab lunch with friends, you don’t necessarily need to accept all the choices. You have to agree on one thing as a team before making the next move.

The goal is to understand the top choice for your friends on where they suggest going for lunch. At this point, you can now use a ranking scale question to understand customer preference. This approach allows you to dig deep and understand the customer’s likes and dislikes. The force-ranking question lets the respondent give thoughtful responses about their preferences.

Also, when analyzing the flavors you are going to take, you need to narrow down to the same option. Imagine when your friends give different suggestions! This does not help; you have to ensure that you get to a single flavor you all agree with! When you use a ranking scale to narrow down your choices, you will realize that you have remained with a few options you all agree on.

Limitation of Ranking Scales

Even though ranking scales have a major role to play in decision-making, they also have some limitations. When you have a long list of items, the ranking scale does not have a role to play. If you have more than five issues at hand, you are likely to experience challenges in making the final decision. Note that the longer the list you have, the more the respondents are likely to make extreme choices.

This means you won’t get as much insights from your data as expected. Also the scale also reveals what most people prefer without stating clear reasons. When a ranking scale is applied when analyzing long lists, it can frustrate the respondents. When people like a particular item more than the other, they are likely to resent being forced to offer feedback.

The best thing to do is to use a ranking scale sparingly when conducting market surveys. Also, consider asking branching questions to enable you to get some explanation about the respondents’ choices.

What is a Rating Scale?

The rating scale is one of the most commonly used questions used during market research.  These questions request the respondent to pick the value that describes their level of satisfaction. The values outlined in the scale are used to elaborate more about the level of satisfaction, agreement or something else that is closely related to that.

The rating scale is used in other scenarios to measure the purchase frequency. When doing a market analysis and you want a better picture of the customer satisfaction rate, you can use the rating scale questions to understand what consumers say about your brand. The goal is to ensure you better understand your customers’ satisfaction rate.

When to use the Rating Scale Question?

The rating scale offers the simplest approach to use when you want to determine people’s attitudes in a manner that is easy to ask and understand. Learning your customers’ attitudes is a fundamental aspect of understanding the direction your business is taking. If you have a better approach to getting this information, you stand a better chance of understanding the quality of your services.

You can use the rating scale question to get reliable feedback on the proposed changes you intend to implement on your products. Before making any changes to the products you are offering, you need to ensure that there is public participation to enhance the comfortability of the user. Also, it’s a good approach to use when you want to measure the attitude or the perception of your brand across the target market.

When you want to collect the opinion of the public members about the current event, you can use the rating scale question to get a better picture of what people say about the topic of discussion.

Limitations of the Rating Scale Question

One of the greatest drawbacks that come with using the ranking scale question is a popular phenomenon known as satisficing. On most occasions, people don’t put most of their efforts into evaluating the question, thus giving all the questions the same rank. As a result, this will likely affect the quality of the data you collect at the end of the process.

The results generated from a rating scale question are mostly similar. This means that the results are lacking some form of accuracy, which is important when drawing conclusions from the data. When the results seem similar, you will likely experience challenges when making final conclusions.

When to Use the Ranking Scale vs Rating Scale?

Deciding whether you need to use a ranking scale vs a rating scale can be daunting. However, when you understand how these two operations work, you will be better positioned to make informed decisions that will make your choice reliable. Understanding the limitations of every scale gives you a better picture of every data element.

If you want to determine the general attitude and the feedback from the consumers, consider using a rating scale. If your goal is to determine the priority of your respondents, use a ranking scale. The best place to use a rating scale is when you want to ask about potential features. Utilize a ranking scale at the point where you want the respondent to rank their preferences based on various features.


When doing a market survey, you need tools and applications to back you up. Implementing some of the best charts and graphs when doing a market survey can hugely impact your efforts’ success. The rating and ranking scales have a huge role when collecting data from your market audience. Before using these tools, you must first understand how they work and their limitations.

Once you have learned and mastered the application and limitations of every scale, you can now apply them accordingly. The mode in which you use the scale impacts the quality of information you generate from the market. The secret is to ensure that you apply them accordingly and address the questions using the right format. This will increase your chances of generating data that will impact the continued development of your business.

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