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Stratified Random Sampling

In this form of sampling, the population is first divided into two or more mutually exclusive
segments based on some categories of variables of interest in the research. It is designed to
organize the population into homogenous subsets before sampling, then drawing a random
sample within each subset. With stratified random sampling the population of N units is
divided into subpopulations of units respectively. These subpopulations, called strata, are
non-overlapping and together they comprise the whole of the population. When these have
been determined, a sample is drawn from each, with a separate draw for each of the different
strata. The sample sizes within the strata are denoted by respectively. If a SRS is taken within
each stratum, then the whole sampling procedure is described as stratified random sampling.
The primary benefit of this method is to ensure that cases from smaller strata of the
population are included in sufficient numbers to allow comparison. An example makes it
easier to understand. Say that you're interested in how job satisfaction varies by race among a
group of employees at a firm. To explore this issue, we need to create a sample of the
employees of the firm.

#1: Evaluate Their Approach to Market Research


First, what is their market research philosophy? How do they approach projects? Are they
focused on actionable, practical results?
What I am really seeking with this series of inquiry is the suppliers willingness to understand
my needs and assist me in reaching my goals.
Of course, my first requirement with any supplier is their adherence to market research
standards, to ensure that the study is representative of the population(s) I am looking to
assess, to collect the data in a professional manner, and to keep me apprised of any issues.
Understanding how they approach projects is my first clue to their level of competence in
these areas.
#2: Are they listening or are they selling?
Second, are they trying to sell me a solution in search of a problem or do they really attempt
to listen to my needs (and limitations, particularly in the budget area) and offer me a solution
to my problems?

This is absolutely a deal-breaker. If I get a sense that a potential supplier is flogging one
single tool as a solution to all problems in market research, the supplier is off my list. This
happens with surprising regularity. The solution they propose is often proprietary (see
criteria three below in the next post) and usually carries a high price tag.
I expect a supplier to listen carefully to my needs and the project specifications and act and
bid accordingly. I am especially concerned that they demonstrate a clear understanding of the
project objectives.
There are only so many solutions in a market researchers bag of tools. I do not expect a
supplier to invent a new tool. I simply expect them to give thought and consideration and a
solid rationale for their recommended approach, methodology and analysis plan for my
project.
#3: Black Box SolutionBye, Bye, I am out of here
Third, are they offering me a black-box solution? Is their solution something I (and
colleagues) can understand or am I going on faith that they know what they are doing? Can
what they are offering be validated and replicated?
Here is another criterion that if failed will send me running. Some hot-shot statistical guru has
invented a proprietary analytic process that answers more questions, solves more problems,
and is more accurate than any test, process, or model known to market researchers,
statisticians or even God. And they will deploy it just for you. But, wait a minute, they cannot
tell you how it works, they cannot give you enough information so you can understand it,
and, of course, no one else has it so it cannot be validated or replicated. But, boy, does this
snake oil get results!
Right, and I have a CDO for sale.
Run, and run fast.
The fact of the matter is that there is no black box solution, just as the Wizard of Oz
ultimately proved to be a humble man from Kansas.
Dont buy it. You are MUCH better off with tried-and-true market research methods and
analytic techniques and tests. Hey, they might not be sexy, but they are proven to work and
have been endlessly validated and replicated.
I am reasonably well-educated, have market research experience and a good head on my
shoulders. My inability to understand a black box solution does not lie with me. Instead, it is
that the black box solution is a Rube Goldberg machine. The guys who invented the black
box talk and act so much smarter than I am, so smart that a mere mortal could not possibly
understand their technique. They are selling smoke and mirrors. Let them peddle their
brilliance on Wall Streetthe quants there will buy anything (and did).

There is a saying in Las Vegas that if I sit down at a poker table and I cannot identify the
patsy, the patsy is me.
Just dont buy into solutions you dont understand. Its not that youre not smart enough to
get it; it is that the sellers of black boxes either arent smart enough to explain their solution
effectively, or that they dont understand it either. Regardless of which is the case, you dont
want to be a buyer.
(Pardon me if I sound passionate about this topicI am. I have seen this happen too many
times. A black box seller persuades someone in the company to buy it and inevitably the
project blows up. Lots of money wasted and lots of time expended for naught.)
Show them the door and find a market research supplier who meets the criteria here. You will
get solid research and the pride of a job well done.
#4: Demand a Single Point of Contact
Fourth, will I have a single point of contact at the firm that will take full responsibility for the
development and execution of my project? If that person is not the person selling me their
services, can I meet and talk with the person that will be responsible?
This criterion is crucial to me. Before I hire a market research supplier, I MUST meet, talk
with and get to know the people who will actually be handling my project. I MUST have
access to these folks. And one of them MUST take overall responsibility for the projects, for
running interference, for problem-solving and for communicating regularly with me about the
project. If the sales person does not have operational responsibility, I have to talk with the
person who does.
Fundamentally, do we get along? Can we work together? If you really like and relate to the
sales person, but he or she drops out of the project picture once you are on board, you could
be left working with a person to whom you cannot relate. Dont simply take the sales person
word for it that the project manager is a great guy or gal and you will love him or her. Meet
that person and ask that person some of the same questions you have asked the sales person.
Too many times I tried suppliers based on the likeability and assurances of the sales person,
only to discover that the project manager or other key team member on the vendor side had
the business and social skills of Frankenstein. Or worse, there was no one person who could
or would take responsibility for the project, leaving me to call all over the firm to find
someone to answer my questions or solve problems with the project.
Know who is responsible before you ink the deal.
#5: Are They Willing to let the Relationship Grow?

Fifth, are they willing to take a small project as a test or do they only want the bigger pricier
ones?
Market research suppliers often specialize in the types of projects they conduct. Before you
contact suppliers, it is wise to determine if they have an industry specialty and then to get a
sense of the types of customers they serve. Select those that fit your market research needs.
I may be headed into a sensitive area, but so be it.
Some firms position themselves as all things to all potential clients, at least in my experience
as a client. In actuality, some firms specialize in what the industry calls field and tab, that
is, relatively simple studies of attitudes and perceptions, basic customer satisfaction, direct
mail tests, concept evaluation and the like. Such a study basically involves developing a
questionnaire, locating an appropriate sample, fielding data collection, analyzing the data,
generally with frequencies and/or cross-tabulations and report-writing.
Other firms specialize in (or are definitely prepared to handle) more sophisticated studies
using conjoint analysis (which requires specific types of questions) or discrete modeling.
Such projects require significantly more statistical analysis and therefore expertise and the
requisite staff to handle this level of analysis.
Narrow your field of potential market research suppliers beforehand, based on the types of
projects they tend to do.
Having done so, you will probably want to test your chosen supplier with a relatively small
project to get a sense of how well you work together.
Is the supplier open to, and appreciative of, such an arrangement? Or do they push to either
up-sell your project or want to hold off for a larger opportunity? If so, this supplier might not
be a good fit for you.
#6: Evaluate Their Responsiveness
Sixth, how responsive are they? How soon are my messages answered? Do I have to pull
teeth to get answers? Are they proactive in keeping me informed about the status of the
project or do I have to pester them for this information?
This aspect of a client-supplier relationship is difficult to ascertain short of conducting a
project with them. In my experience, almost all suppliers are very responsive during the
initial sales cycle.
One way to get a peek at potential communication issues is your conversations with both the
person who will be your primary contact at the firm and the other significant team members
(the data collection manager and the analyst to name two).

This is also a main reason to test new suppliers with a small project. If they dont meet this
test, I would decline to continue to do business with them.
#7: Get Clear Pricing
Seventh, how clear is their pricing? What is included in their services and what is extra?
Pricing clarity is critical. You may or may not want to always seek the lowest price. In
evaluating market research services, pricing is driven by the confluence of complexity of the
project, the sampling costs, the timeframes, and most critically, length and quantities of the
survey or interview, analytic requirements, and quality control.
That said, you do want pricing clarity.
I have worked with suppliers who would low-ball the initial project costs and then nickeland-dime me to death on the back end. Oh, you want a frequency? Well, thats extra. You
want SPSS output? Thats extra. You want a daily status report? Thats extra.
Insist on knowing exactly what the deliverables are and how much they will cost.
#8: Check Their References
Eighth, do their references check out?
It continually surprises me that otherwise rational, hard-headed business people, let alone
market researchers, do not ask for or check references. I surmise that the rationale for not
doing so is that if a potential supplier can give references, they must check out okay. What
company would provide references that would not give the supplier a good review?
Checking out references is a matter of tone. When you check references you listen for what is
said, how it is said and what is not said. Unless a supplier was truly abysmal, I would not give
a negative review to any supplier if you called me for a reference on the ones I use, for
example. But I would certainly choose my words very carefully and use intonation to convey
my lack of enthusiasm. If a supplier is truly superior, I would let you know and I would let
you know what they do that makes them superior.
#9: Check Their Experience
Ninth, ask about the last three projects the supplier did.
A reputable supplier will NOT reveal client names or project specifics, but will give you an
overview of the projects.
The answers to these questions are important; how they are answered, with what speed, with
what depth and with what openness are critical. You are also listening for what is not said.

Along with probing the areas above, I would also verify their credentials and qualifications. If
anyone is insulted by your request for credentials and qualifications, run fast and far. If you
ask them for their credentials, they should be happy to supply them and to give you the
information to verify them. It is not insultingif they have the credentials. If they are
insulted by this request, either they dont have the credentials they say they have, or they are
neurotic. In either case you would not want to work with them.

Primary sources
Primary sources allow researchers to get as close as possible to original ideas, events and
empirical studies as possible. Such sources may include expositions of creative ideas, first
hand or contemporary accounts of events, publication of the results of empirical observations
or studies, and other items that may form the basis of further research. Examples include:

Novels, plays, poems, works of art, popular culture

diaries, narratives, autobiographies, memoirs, speeches

Government documents, patents

Data sets, technical reports, experimental research results

Stages of marketing research process


Step 1: Problem Definition
The first step in any marketing research project is to define the problem. In defining the
problem, the researcher should take into account the purpose of the study, the relevant
background information, what information is needed, and how it will be used in decision
making. Problem definition involves discussion with the decision makers, interviews with
industry experts, analysis of secondary data, and, perhaps, some qualitative research, such as
focus groups. Once the problem has been precisely defined, the research can be designed and
conducted properly.
Step 2: Development of an Approach to the Problem
Development of an approach to the problem includes formulating an objective or theoretical
framework, analytical models, research questions, hypotheses, and identifying characteristics
or factors that can influence the research design. This process is guided by discussions with
management and industry experts, case studies and simulations, analysis of secondary data,
qualitative research and pragmatic considerations.
Step 3: Research Design Formulation

A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the marketing research project.
It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is
to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the
research questions, and provide the information needed for decision making. Conducting
exploratory research, precisely defining the variables, and designing appropriate scales to
measure them are also a part of the research design. The issue of how the data should be
obtained from the respondents (for example, by conducting a survey or an experiment) must
be addressed. It is also necessary to design a questionnaire and a sampling plan to select
respondents for the study.
More formally, formulating the research design involves the following steps :
1. Secondary data analysis
2. Qualitative research
3. Methods of collecting quantitative data (survey, observation, and experimentation)
4. Definition of the information needed
5. Measurement and scaling procedures
6. Questionnaire design
7. Sampling process and sample size
8. Plan of data analysis
Step 4: Field Work or Data Collection
Data collection involves a field force or staff that operates either in the field, as in the case of
personal interviewing (in-home, mall intercept, or computer-assisted personal interviewing),
from an office by telephone (telephone or computer-assisted telephone interviewing), or
through mail (traditional mail and mail panel surveys with prerecruited households). Proper
selection, training, supervision, and evaluation of the field force helps minimize datacollection errors.
Step 5: Data Preparation and Analysis
Data preparation includes the editing, coding, transcription, and verification of data. Each
questionnaire or observation form is inspected, or edited, and, if necessary, corrected.
Number or letter codes are assigned to represent each response to each question in the
questionnaire. The data from the questionnaires are transcribed or key-punched on to
magnetic tape, or disks or input directly into the computer. Verification ensures that the data
from the original questionnaires have been accurately transcribed, while data analysis, guided
by the plan of data analysis, gives meaning to the data that have been collected. Univariate
techniques are used for analyzing data when there is a single measurement of each element or
unit in the sample, or, if there are several measurements of each element, each RCH variable
is analyzed in isolation. On the other hand, multivariate techniques are used for analyzing

data when there are two or more measurements on each element and the variables are
analyzed simultaneously.
Step 6: Report Preparation and Presentation
The entire project should be documented in a written report which addresses the specific
research questions identified, describes the approach, the research design, data collection, and
data analysis procedures adopted, and presents the results and the major findings. The
findings should be presented in a comprehensible format so that they can be readily used in
the decision making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management
using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact.
For these reasons, interviews with experts are more useful in conducting marketing research
for industrial firms and for products of a technical nature, where it is relatively easy to
identify and approach the experts. This method is also helpful in situations where little
information is available from other sources, as in the case of radically new products.
Secondary data analysis
Secondary data are data collected for some purpose other than the problem at hand. Primary
data, on the other hand, are originated by the researcher for the specific purpose of addressing
the research problem. Secondary data include information made available by business and
government sources, commercial marketing research firms, and computerized databases.
Secondary data are an economical and quick source of background information. Analysis of
available secondary data is an essential step in the problem definition process: primary data
should not be collected until the available secondary data have been fully analyzed.
Qualitative research
Information, industry experts, and secondary data may not be sufficient to define the research
problem. Sometimes qualitative research must be undertaken to gain a qualitative
understanding of the problem and its underlying factors. Qualitative research is unstructured,
exploratory in nature, based on small samples, and may utilize popular qualitative techniques
such as focus groups (group interviews), word association (asking respondents to indicate
their first responses to stimulus words), and depth interviews (one-on-one interviews which
probe the respondents' thoughts in detail). Other exploratory research techniques, such as
pilot surveys with small samples of respondents, may also be undertaken.