Sampling Plan

Do you like free samples? I do too! Unfortunately, this is not an explanation of free samples, but it's an article about something that sounds quite similar - a sampling plan.

Sampling Plan Sampling Plan

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    This might not be a term you are very familiar with, but it is a significant part of marketing. We know how important research is for marketing. We need to know the target audience to plan a successful marketing campaign, and a sampling plan is essential to make it successful. Wondering how? Keep reading to find out!

    Sampling Plan Definition

    Knowing the target audience is vital to understanding their needs and wants. Researchers need to study the population to draw conclusions. These conclusions will serve as a basis for constructing a suitable marketing campaign. But observing every person in the selected location is impractical and, at times, impossible. Therefore, researchers select a group of individuals representative of the population. A sampling plan is an outline based on which research is conducted.

    A sampling plan outlines the individuals chosen to represent the target population under consideration for research purposes.

    It is crucial to verify that the sampling plan is representative of all kinds of people to draw accurate conclusions.

    Sampling Plan Research

    The sampling plan is an essential part of the implementation phase in market research - it is the first step of implementing market research.

    Check out our explanation of market research to find out more.

    Researchers decide the sampling unit, size, and procedure when creating a sampling plan.

    Deciding the sampling unit involves defining the target population. The area of interest for the research may contain people that may be out of the scope of the research. Therefore, the researcher must first identify the type of people within the research's parameters.

    The sample size will specify how many people from the sampling unit will be surveyed or studied. Usually, in realistic cases, the target population is colossal. Analyzing every single individual is an arduous task. Therefore, the researcher must decide which individuals should be considered and how many people to survey.

    The sampling procedure decides how the sample size is chosen. Researchers can do this based on both probability sampling methods and non-probability sampling methods. We will talk about this in more detail in the following sections.

    Sampling Plan Types

    The sampling plan mainly consists of two different types of methods - one based on probability methods and the other based on non-probability methods.

    In the probability sampling method, the researcher lists a few criteria and then chooses people randomly from the population. In this method, all people of the population have an equal chance to be selected. The probability methods are further classified into:

    1. Simple Random Sampling - as the name suggests, this type of sampling picks individuals randomly from the selection.

    2. Cluster Sampling - the whole population gets divided into groups or clusters. Researchers then survey people from the selected clusters.

    3. Systematic Sampling - researchers select individuals at a regular interval; for example, the researcher will select every 15th person on the list for interviews.

    4. Stratified Sampling - researchers divide the group into smaller subgroups called strata based on their characteristics. Researchers then pick individuals at random from the strata.

    Difference between cluster sampling and stratified sampling

    In cluster sampling, all individuals are put into different groups, and all people in the selected groups are studied.

    In stratified sampling, all the individuals are put into different groups, and some people from all groups are surveyed.

    A non-probability method involves choosing people at random without any defined criteria. This means that not everybody has an equal chance of being selected for the survey. Non-probability techniques can be further classified into:

    1. Convenience Sampling - this depends on the ease of accessing a person of interest.

    2. Judgemental Sampling - also known as purposive sampling, includes selecting people with a particular characteristic that supports the scope of the research.

    3. Snowball Sampling - used when trying to find people with traits that are difficult to trace. In such cases, the researcher would find one or two people with the traits and then ask them to refer to people with similar characteristics.

    4. Quota Sampling - this involves collecting information from a homogenous group.

    Steps of a Sample Plan

    A sampling plan helps researchers collect data and get results quicker, as only a group of individuals is selected to be studied instead of the whole population. But how is a sampling plan conducted? What are the steps of a sample plan?

    A sampling plan study consists of 5 main steps:

    1. Sample Definition - this step involves identifying the research goals or what the research is trying to achieve. Defining the sample will help the researcher identify what they have to look for in the sample.

    2. Sample Selection - after the sample definition, researchers now have to obtain a sample frame. The sample frame will give the researchers a list of the population from which the researcher chooses people to sample.

    3. Sample Size Determination - the sample size is the number of individuals that will be considered while determining the sampling plan. This step defines the number of individuals that the researcher will survey.

    4. Sample Design - in this step, the samples are picked from the population. Researchers can select individuals based on probability or non-probability methods.

    5. Sample Assessment - this step ensures that the samples chosen are representative enough of the population and ensures quality data collection.

    After these processes are finalized, researchers carry forward with the rest of the research, such as drawing conclusions that form a basis for the marketing campaign.

    Probability sampling methods are more complex, costly, and time-consuming than non-probability methods.

    Sampling Plans Example

    Different methods of sampling plans help to yield different types of data. The sampling plan will depend on the company's research goals and limitations. Given below are a few examples of companies that use different types of sampling plans:

    1. Simple Random Sampling - A district manager wants to evaluate employee satisfaction at a store. Now, he would go to the store, pick a few employees randomly, and ask them about their satisfaction. Every employee has an equal chance of being selected by the district manager for the survey.

    2. Cluster Sampling - A reputed private school is planning to launch in a different city. To gain a better insight into the city, they divided the population based on families with school-aged kids and people with high incomes. These insights will help them decide if starting a branch in that particular city would be worth it or not.

    3. Systematic Sampling - A supermarket with many branches decides to reallocate its staff to improve efficiency. The manager decides that every third person, chosen per their employee number, would be transferred to a different location.

    4. Stratified Sampling - A research startup is trying to understand people's sleep patterns based on different age groups. Therefore, the whole sampling unit gets divided into different age groups (or strata), such as 0-3 months, 4-12 months, 1-2 years, 3-5 years, 6-12 years, and so on. Some people from all the groups are studied.

    5. Convenience Sampling - An NGO is trying to get people to sign up for a "street-clean" program as part of the Earth Day campaign. They have stationed themselves on the sidewalks of a busy shopping street, and are approaching people who pass them by to try and pursue them to join the program.

    6. Judgemental Sampling - A real estate company is trying to determine how the rental price hike affects people. To find the answer to this question, they would only have to consider people that live in rented houses, meaning that people who own a home would be excluded from this survey.

    7. Snowball Sampling - A pharmaceutical company is trying to get a list of patients with leukemia. As the company cannot go to hospitals to ask for patients' information, they would first find a couple of patients with the illness and then ask them to refer patients with the same illness.

    8. Quota Sampling - Recruiters that want to hire employees with a degree from a particular school will group them into a separate subgroup. This type of selection is called quota selection.

    Sampling plan - Key takeaways

    • A sampling plan outlines the individuals chosen to represent the target population under consideration for research purposes.
    • During a sampling plan in research, the sampling unit, the sampling size, and the sampling procedure are determined.
    • The sample size will specify how many people from the sampling unit will be surveyed or studied.
    • The sampling procedure decides how researchers will select the sample size.
    • The methods of probability sampling include simple random, cluster, systematic, and stratified sampling.
    • The non-probability sampling plan methods include convenience, judgemental, snowball, and quota sampling.
    • Sample definition, sample selection, sample size determination, sample design, and sample assessment are the steps of a sample plan.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Sampling Plan

    What is a sample plan in marketing? 

    Researchers need to study the population to draw conclusions. But observing every person in the selected location is impractical and, at times, impossible. Therefore, researchers select a group of individuals representative of the population. A sampling plan outlines the individuals chosen to represent the target population under consideration for research purposes. 

    What is a sampling plan and its types? 

    A sampling plan outlines the individuals chosen to represent the target population under consideration for research purposes.

    The sampling plan mainly consists of two different types of methods - one based on probability methods and the other based on non-probability methods. Probability sampling methods include simple random, cluster, systematic, and stratified sampling. The non-probability sampling methods include convenience, judgemental, snowball, and quota sampling.

    Why is the sampling plan important? 

    The sampling plan is an essential part of the implementation phase in market research - it is the first step of implementing market research. Observing every person in the selected location is impractical. Therefore, researchers select a group of individuals representative of the population called the sampling unit. This is outlined in the sampling plan. 

    What should a marketing plan include? 

    A good marketing plan should include the target market, the unique selling proposition, SWOT analysis, marketing strategies, the budget, and the duration of the research. 

    What are the components of a sampling plan? 

    The sample definition, sample selection, sample size determination, sample design, and sample assessment are the components of a sampling plan. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    The sampling plan is a part of the _________ phase.

    The ___________  involves deciding the target population. 

    The sample size

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