Sampling Essay

899 words - 4 pages


Carrying out a survey of every single potential consumer (known as
population) of a firm's product would be impractical, time-consuming
and costly. Businesses still, however, need to collect enough primary
data to have a clear idea of the views of consumers. This can be done
by taking a sample of the population. This sample group should be made
up of consumers that are representative of all potential buyers of the
product. There are a number of ways in which a sample can be chosen.

Random Sampling

This method gives each member of a group an equal chance of being
chosen. In other words, the sample is selected at random, rather like
picking numbers out of a hat. Today computers can be used to produce a
random list of numbers which are then used as the basis for selecting
a sample. Its main advantage is that bias cannot be introduced when
choosing the sample. However, it assumes that all members of the group
are the same (homogeneous), which is not always the case. A small
sample chosen in this way may not have the characteristics of the
population, so a very large sample would have to be taken to make sure
it was repetitive. It would be very costly and time consuming for
firms to draw up a list of the whole population and then contact and
interview them.

One method sometimes used to reduce the time taken to locate a random
sample is to choose every tenth or twentieth name on a list. This is
known as systematic sampling. It is, however, less random.

Stratified Random Sampling

This method of random sampling is often preferred by researchers as it
makes the sample more representative of the whole group. The sample is
divided in segments or strata based on previous knowledge about how
the population is divided up. So, if the business was interested in
how 'class' affected consumers' demand for a food product, it might
divide the population up into different class groups, such as working
class males, middle class females etc. A random sample could then be
chosen from each of these groups by making sure that they were the
same proportions of the sample in each category as in population as a
whole. So if the population had 10 per cent upper class males, so
would the sample.


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