Norstat Quarterly Data: How it works and what it can tell you

The concept is the brainchild of Norstat’s Nikolaj Voulfsbach, who during the pandemic realised the importance of quality data in shaping people’s views and assumptions about consumers in their own and other countries. Below he answers a few questions about what’s behind the Norstat Quarterly Data numbers and what people can expect in the months and years ahead.

How would you describe the Norstat Quarterly Data initiative?

Norstat Quarterly Data aims to gather and present high-quality data across several markets to make it easier to know your people. It offers a snapshot of what people are thinking and feeling at a given point in time that can serve as a baseline for anyone interested in assessing the mood or mindset in a specific country.
We really want to make it easier for all of us to know more about the world around us – to have confidence in the assumptions we make about what people are thinking in Italy, Denmark, or the UK. And conducting new surveys every quarter also lets people track how answers change over time. It will help us all see when views in each country start shifting and thus measure trends over time.
Norstat Quarterly Data is also a way for us to demonstrate our capabilities across several markets in terms of data collection and visualisations.

How do you decide what questions to ask?

It’s actually been quite a process. On the one hand, there’s no limit to the questions we could ask. But in reality, we have a pretty good idea of the themes and topics that make the most sense for Norstat Quarterly Data.
Conducting surveys that generate high-quality data is what we at Norstat do year in, year out. And that experience, combined with the competence of my colleagues, helped us pinpoint what sort of questions we wanted to include.
One of the biggest challenges was figuring how best to “future proof” the survey – to find a mix of questions that would be relevant over a longer time horizon to help paint a picture of how attitudes change over time.
In the end, we settled on 15 questions that we feel capture some of the biggest influences on people’s daily choices and behaviours, and grouped them into three categories: Community, Quality of Life & Health, and Consumption.

What can we expect to learn from Norstat Quarterly Data? What does it tell us?

Through our online dashboard and market-specific reports, we can take the pulse of the population in several countries so that everyone can get a better handle on society’s mindset or mood at a given point in time.
The concept is to provide some top-level facts on important societal topics and trends that are likely to influence the way we behave. It provides answers to anyone who wants to know how people currently perceive society in France, Netherlands, or Poland.
The data we provide – that XX percent of Germans think this, or that YY percent of Norwegians are concerned about that – are based on robust, high-quality data gathered from our panels. As a result, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that, at its core, Norstat Quarterly Data produces facts. It amounts to a continuous flow of new facts about the 15 countries covered in the initiative.
However, the task of figuring out exactly what those facts mean, or why things look the way they do is something we leave to others. We may take the pulse but stop short of providing any sort of diagnosis or recommending a specific treatment.

Looking ahead, what do you hope that Norstat Quarterly Data can achieve?

To be honest, I really hope it just gets people talking – not only customers and potential customers but also the general public. That it helps start conversations and discussions across borders based on facts, rather than half-truths, misinformation, and outdated stereotypes.
If there’s one thing we learned in the wake of Covid, it’s how quickly circumstances – and thus attitudes – can change. It’s important to know what people are thinking today, but also realise those views may look different a few months from now.
I hope the data in each Norstat Quarterly Data can be a snapshot that captures the mood of the moment and serves as a record that can later be compared across markets and over time so that we can all better know our people and our world.

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