Data on the relevant population group

If the population group of interest is entirely male it makes sense to tell the agency, because that will prevent them wasting research money on collecting data from females. The same thing holds for age, occupation, interest, industry, service or any other specific group. It is also helpful to give an indication of the probable rate of occurrence of the population group of interest, as this will affect the sampling method used.

A car component manufacturer wanted to learn more about the growing phenomenon of motorists who have their cars serviced at home by someone else. In particular, the component manufacturer wanted to know where these individuals who service other people's cars obtain the spare parts they need. It was known that some of the people carrying on this trade did so openly, but many more did this kind of work on an 'unofficial' basis. The manufacturer suspected that they accounted for something like one-tenth of all servicing done. If so, they would represent a useful source of business if some method of distributing parts into this unofficial trade could be devised. The first step was to undertake a research survey to confirm the number of people who had their cars serviced in this way and learn more about it. By indicating to the research agency their suspicion that this represented approximately 1 in 10 of all motor car owners, the agency knew that to generate a sample of 500 relevant respondents it would be necessary to contact 5000 motorists. This would mean a more time-consuming and expensive sample identification procedure than would be necessary, say, for the manufacturer of a food product used by 80 per cent of all households. In this case, to generate a sample of 500 respondents only 625 would need to be contacted in the first place._

Receiving as much information as is available about the characteristics and occurrence of the target group will enable the agency to suggest the most appropriate method for contacting the sample, and to be more precise in estimating the cost of doing so.

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