Once the researcher has decided how primary data are to be collected, the next task is to obtain a sample of respondents that is representative of the target population of interest. This chapter discusses the major sampling techniques and how they are used in marketing research. The techniques can be divided into probability and non-probability methods. In probability sampling each element of the population has a known non-zero chance of being selected. In such cases it is possible to compute sampling variation and project the results to the entire population. In the case of non-probability sampling, the chance of selection of a particular population element is known and, strictly speaking, results cannot be projected to the entire population. Although sampling can be technically rigorous, the need to be so does depend on the particular application.

This chapter discusses the key elements involved in devising a sampling plan and explores the importance of properly defining the target population of interest. It illustrates the important features of both probability and non-probability samples and describes the major types and primary practical uses of both probability and non-probability sampling. The chapter outlines the primary approaches to determining sample size, defines the concept of sampling and non-sampling error and explains the nature of the factors contributing response and non-response errors. Finally, it suggests how response rates can be improved and discusses ways of remedying non-response errors.

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