Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A good sample

So if you're reading this, I'm assuming you didn't go for the Sony Bravia.

Following on from the last post, good, useful qualitative research output is sample dependent.

If you aren’t talking to the right people, then even the cleverest, most innovative techniques in the world won’t help.

So how do you make sure your sample is a good one? There are 3 things to keep in mind:

-  Sample definition

-  Recruitment

-  The research dynamic

Sample definition is a job for brand and product managers/marketers. Why? They typically know their business best, and it’s absolutely paramount that the sample is aligned with their business and marketing objectives. Anything short of a sample defined according to these objectives will be sub-optimal.

Recruitment is another important factor in getting the right sample. In this case, it’s down to a sharp screener and a fine recruiter (albeit, to get the well-screened and well-recruited participants to actually show up, you really just need luck).

Finally, the research dynamic. The aim here is to manage the research dynamic so that you get the best out of your sample. For example, deciding whether or not it’s appropriate to mix men and women in any particular group, or the best way to split ages across the groups, etc. These considerations play an important role in determining the difference between useful and useless research.

The zebra bite? A well-defined, well-screened sample, set to ‘work’ in an appropriate forum is the starting point for good, useful qualitative research.

Next time – fieldwork!

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