Quota is a term that is commonly used in both qualitative and quantitative market research. What is a quota? A quota is a project management term which stipulates the targeted number of interviews or completes that must be obtained through recruitment or fieldwork. A quota could be as simple as the total number of completes for a massive quantitative study but quotas can also be specified for segments within the total sample.
Here are some quick examples of quotas in market research and how they may be used:
A telephone survey to test the feasibility of a new widget has a quota of 800 total completes.
The sponsoring company mentioned the new widget is mainly geared towards male users. Therefore the market research team stipulates a quota of 600 completes from males (out of the 800 total).
The sponsoring company also mentioned the new widget will focus sales out of its main office in Washington County and only a small amount of inventory will be carried at its retail locations in the other four counties. Therefore a quota was developed to collect 600 completes from Washington County residents with a quota of 50 completes for the other four counties. Again, this would total 800 completes.
You can see how the project management of this study gets trickier as the number of quotas increase. Towards the end of fieldwork, many of your quotas may be closed so your data center may need new respondents to match a number of criteria in order to qualify (e.g., female aged 25 to 34 who lives outside of Washington County). Quotas are also used for focus group recruitment, online surveys, as well as many other types of market research studies. Quotas can automatically be set up through online surveys to qualify and disqualify participants in real-time as each quota bucket fills up, which is a nice project management time-saver.
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