Sampling

It must be stressed that in many markets of interest to UK companies, a full range of techniques and research services will be available. These will enable the overseas researcher to carry out market research to the same levels of sophistication as in the home market.

In most cases many of the methods outlined in Chapter 7 are available in international markets. However, in some underdeveloped markets the information required for both random and quota sampling may not be available or may be of dubious quality.

For example, the estimates of overall population in Nigeria range from 80 to 120 million. When a difference of this magnitude is registered on what would normally be considered a fairly straightforward measure, it is clear that measurements relating to socioeconomic status or household numbers may not be totally reliable. Certain methods of constructing sample frames may not be adequate in some countries; for example, the use of telephone directories in countries in which household penetration of telephone ownership is low. Russia boasts 100 per cent penetration of telephones, but it should be noted that the basis for this is buildings, not households. In online research access to the World Wide Web is limited in certain markets.

Identifying street names and house location is very difficult in some countries, while in others physical accessibility is a major problem. Experienced researchers should be able to suggest innovative ways of addressing these problems, although not all of them can be overcome entirely. The answer is to try to allow for the variability that local conditions introduce into sampling procedures. Local research agencies will be aware of methodologies that can be used to address what may seem insurmountable obstacles, and will advise on their impact on the reliability of results achieved from a less-than-perfect sampling technique.

Even in Europe differences in approach can be seen. In France quota sampling is the norm, and when working in France it is probably wise to be guided by a local agency or to delegate control of the project to a UK-based agency with representation in France. Use of a preferred methodology need not compromise research objectives and will lead to greater understanding and less room for misinterpretation. This, in turn, will make the research more cost-effective and hopefully more reliable.

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