The Importance of Sampling in Market Research: Inclusion and Exclusion

Market research methodologies are used to collect data about a specific group of consumers or professionals depending on whether the topic is B2C or B2B. The technical term for this group is target market, because it refers to the group of consumers or professionals a product or service is aimed to.

Picking your target market for your market research can be a simple or complicated task. Before you take any next steps you'll want to ensure you review all inclusion and exclusion criteria.

The Importance of Sampling in Market Research: Inclusion and Exclusion

5 Basic Stages of Market Research

The basic process of market research entails five stages:

① Identifying the objective (purpose) of the research. This step is the most important and will set the foundation for the entire market research process.

② Design the study: methodology. On a simplified level this can be quantitative, in which data is measured in quantities with numbers, or qualitative, in which data is not measured in the form of numbers and is based on observation, anecdotal and subjective feedback.

③ Sampling and data collection. Sampling means gathering data from a number of people within the desired target market, and data collection is exactly what it sounds like, how the data is collected.

It is unrealistic to think you will get feedback from every single person within a population. Keep in mind, the U.S. Census that is required by law returns about a 70% response rate from residents across the country. Therefore, if you are sampling a town of 10,000 residents, you cannot expect to receive 10,000 survey responses. Creating a representative and reliable sample is crucial to your market research.

Sampling can make or break a research project for a company. Therefore, it is vital to discuss long-term goals and outcomes of the market research prior to sampling.

Here’s why.

The market research terminologies are inclusion criteria and exclusion criteria, and simply stated, each refer to criteria used to determine who will participate in the research study. Inclusion and exclusion criteria can be very specific or more general, dependent on the objective of the research and the goal of the company or organization. Inclusion and exclusion criteria can include numerous components including age, demographic, marital status, family status, or education, as well as behavioral criteria, for example, prior use of a product or service or no prior use of a product or service.

Market research is used to gain insight about a company’s ideal client, so if the participants did not meet the criteria of the ideal client, how useful would the research be?

It wouldn’t be.

Think about it.

If a company came out with a new product for babies, how useful would it be to conduct a focus group with 10 men and women who have never had an interaction with a baby?

It wouldn’t be.

If a company wanted to launch a new packaging for tie, how useful would it be to conduct research with men and women whom have never bought a tie or worn one?
It wouldn’t be.

If a pet food company wanted to learn about why dog owners chose one brand over another, how useful would it be to conduct research with people who have never owned a dog?

It wouldn’t be.

If a restaurant wants to open a new location in Chicago, how useful would it be to ask a local community in San Diego about their “dining out” habits?

It wouldn’t be.

If a technology company wanted to launch a new iPhone app, how useful would it be to ask a group of Android smartphone owners about the process for choosing iPhone apps.

It wouldn’t be.

If a conferencing solutions company wanted to launch a new series of business conference phones for small businesses, how useful would it be to survey Fortune 50 companies only?

It wouldn’t be.

As illustrated in the examples above, the inclusion and exclusion criteria involved with sampling become an essential layer of the market reach process. Without targeted samples, the following stages become less valuable, by failing to support the objective of the company’s research efforts. The last two stages piece together all the data collected in an advantageous manner to support the company’s long-term goals.

④ Analyze the data. This stage involves the researcher analyzing and discovering, “What does all the data gathered mean?”

⑤ Deliver the results. Arguably, the most beneficial part for the company. The best market research companies offer a professional interpretation of the data including an overview of the study and recommendations for future advertising and marketing campaigns.


The objective is the first piece of the market research puzzle, followed by research design, then sampling, “to include, or not to include,” and ending with analysis and delivery of results.

When considering market research, it is essential to consider why research is being conducted, but it is also imperative to know who your ideal consumer/customer/client is and use them as participants to maximize your research efforts.

A professional market research company will help a company to identify the inclusion and exclusion criteria they need for the research project, so questions are being answered by their target market. Overall, creating valuable insight about their target market, enables a company to adjust marketing campaigns to speak directly to their ideal buyer, resulting in more buyers and increased revenue.

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Drive Research is a national market research company in the U.S. We work with all types of clients and industries across the country on both qualitative and quantitative market research projects. Interested in learning more? Have a question? Contact us.

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