Sampling techniques in business research

Written by frank luger Google
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Sampling techniques in business research
Market researchers inform business decisions. (Getty Thinkstock)

Finding out what consumers would like is a complex affair, not least as consumers are sometimes undecided about what they want until they meet it. It’s not feasible to ask everyone for their opinions, so almost all businesses use a variety of sampling techniques, according to professor of decision sciences Ken Black.

Market research

While out shopping, you may have been approached by someone with a clipboard asking if you wouldn’t mind taking part in market research. Some businesses think a good way to find out what consumers want is to give them short interviews and ask questions about their shopping choices. The answers are later collated to provide generalised information about consumer preferences.

Online survey

Many websites nowadays use online surveys to try to discover what people browsing their sites are looking for. Businesses would be very happy if browsing always led to purchasing. However, if you are just browsing, it might be that you are not finding what you are looking for. If enough responders to online surveys have concordant opinions, businesses can redesign their websites accordingly, with the aim of converting more browsers into buyers.

Limited roll out

A limited roll out of a new product is a controlled way to gain a useful sample of information about its potential success. The reaction of a small number of consumers in a microcosm can be scaled-up to indicate the likely response of a much larger number, if the product is rolled out nationally. A limited roll out is a commercially less risky way of discovering whether or not a product is likely to succeed.


Other sampling techniques include product testing panels. Companies send out new products to people who have agreed to be testers, on condition they provide feedback. Further, many businesses now use social media to sample opinion, often building a vocal advocate base at the same time. Sending out special offer coupons is also a way of sampling demand. Low sales but major take-up of special offer coupons may indicate a need for price point adjustment.

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