Sampling in practice

So far we have examined some of the methods of applying sampling in a study. We now consider the choice of a sampling method.

Required precision is a factor in influencing the choice of sampling method. Getting a clear-cut answer about the most likely effect of a proposed price reduction on market share demands a sampling design where precision of results can be measured - some kind of probability sample. However, an exploratory study that is trying to obtain some rough idea about which price-reduction method is most promising for further development and testing can use a non-probability sample. It would not be cost-effective to spend additional money on a more precise sample. The availability of an appropriate sampling frame is another factor. Drawing a sample without a frame can be difficult and expensive.

Some factors specific to the study may dictate the form of data collection to be used, such as personal interviews in shopping precincts, postal questionnaire or telephone study. If the study requires the placement of a product with people for in-home trial, the telephone and postal methods (except in combination with other methods) are not feasible. These methods also cannot be used for testing television advertisements. However, if the study intends to measure the number of people reached by a particular radio or television advertisement, the telephone procedure, with its easy access and low unit cost, may be the right method. On the other hand , if the study is aimed at measuring the readership of a publication, then a meeting between interviewer and respondent is essential to show and go through the publication. Finally, the cost of collecting the information has to match with the value of the study to the sponsor.

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