I had a meeting this morning with a well-known, global company who are interested in university students and their buying decisions and preferences. They needed this research to make strategic decisions on service-bundling.
They told me they ran this research last year, and the sample size was only 250 interviews. As of last year in the UK, higher education students made up about 5% of the total population, so pretty low IR.
250 respondents. For research that is fueling a greater, strategic marketing and service-bundling approach.
Then I asked why such a small sample size if there was a lot riding off the back of this project?
“Because that’s all [Industry Giant Market Research Company] could give us,” they replied.
I almost gasped! Unfortunately, this is not the first, nor the last time, I’ll be hearing this answer.
It’s no secret that nat rep audiences are much easier to survey than the much more narrow ones, like horse owners, people with a certain diet preference, or maybe even health conditions.
I mean, we all know these people are out there and since they are commercially interesting to you, it’s not just a few. And the rules of data validity do not change just because a segment is more difficult to sample.
At the same time, less and less people sign up to be a part of a market research panel; people are more reluctant to give their info and sign up for things, let alone invest their precious attention in it (especially YOUNGER consumers).
So, what once was a great way to understand consumers…just doesn’t work for the modern world we live in today: it’s getting more difficult to have people sit down and take 20 min long surveys that can only be taken optimally on a computer, when the world is on their phones. This approach doesn’t fit the world anymore. Especially not for targeting low-IR audiences where you need a bigger sampling pool to get enough survey respondents to ensure your data validity.
That is why market researchers need to rethink their sampling strategies to the life consumers live: today, the world is on-the-go, on their mobile devices, all the time.
So, why not meet consumers exactly where they already are; on their smartphones?
If you recognize the difficulty of reaching (enough) respondents in your low-IR segments, you need to start considering the benefits of modern sampling via mobile devices.
It’s the same if you walk into any supermarket and ask people to raise their hand if they are a part of a market research panel, and then if they own a smartphone. Which number would you expect to be higher?
Pretty much everyone has a smartphone, everyone uses it, and it just becomes a numbers’ game at this point:
the more people in the world you can potentially reach via a smartphone, the higher volume of respondents you can get with low-IR audiences. And the better the data validity for those business critical decisions you are looking to make off the research results.
Even for market research into university students and horse-owners.