A census

A census is a count of people, houses, business firms or other items of interest taken at a particular time. Governments of different countries often take censuses of population and production every ten years. A census of the population, for example, tries to count everyone in the country at a specific time. A questionnaire is sent to every household asking how many persons are living there at the designated time and asking for information about gender, age and other details.

Census data are used for market research and changes in the data are indispensable in forecasting trends in demand for goods and services. Almost every country now conducts a census of some kind, usually at intervals of five or ten years. The information obtained ranges from basic data on the size, ages and locations of a country's population to information on migration, family composition, income and standard of living. Censuses can vary in their accuracy; questions have to be skilfully framed to obtain objective answers or at least to minimise the degree of inaccuracy.

SAMPLING

Marketing research of a whole population is impractical.

• Sampling allows us to obtain valid data on a representative section of a population from which we can draw valid conclusions about the whole population.

• Random and quota sampling methods are usually applied in marketing research.

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