Observational Methods of Quantitative Marketing Research

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  • 0:00 Accuracy in Observation
  • 0:48 Crowd Gauging…
  • 1:48 Reporting Statistics on Use
  • 3:57 Marketing Research
  • 4:50 Geographic…
  • 5:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

When performing quantitative market research, it is important to collect data using methods that are accurate and have a low probability of error. This lesson explores some of these quantitative methods and technologies.

Accuracy in Observation

Shortly after taking office, then White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, read a statement regarding the size of the crowd that attended the President Trump's inauguration. His statement read, ''This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe.''

When others wanted to check the accuracy of this statement, they turned to one of many available techniques for collecting quantitative data. In contrast to qualitative research methods that focus on feelings, opinions, and decisions, quantitative research emphasizes the observable using methods that are statistically reliable or, in other words, methods that produce consistent results over time.

Crowd Gauging Quantitative Methods

Quantitative research methods require accurate and appropriate collection methods because an apples-to-apples comparison is assumed even before analysis. In quantitative research, like in comparing crowd sizes, observational methods must be reliable and consistent.

In the inauguration example, researchers use a number of observational methods to assess crowd size. For researchers estimating crowd size after the fact, data collection can include the analysis and extrapolation of photographs and the review of video taken at the event, or can be done by performing estimations based on the known capacity of a facility or location.

Some devices for data collection, like motion detectors or audio devices, are triggered only when observation is needed. Physical methods, like turnstiles, door sensors, infrared lasers, or pressure sensors, can be used to observe crowd or vehicle movements through a specific area of interest.

Reporting Statistics on Use

Let's look at some more specific examples of reporting statistics.

When National Park Service superintendents make budget requests to Washington, they are required to provide numerous related statistics related. These data points include things like the number of visitors to the park, utilization reports for the park's various features, and numerous statistics related to environmental impacts.

In this case, no single observation method will collect each of these data points. Because the entry gates are not staffed 24/7, counting receipts would not be an accurate method. In this case, license plate cameras could not only count vehicles, but can also provide valuable information about the people who visit the park, including their home state or the places within the park that they may choose to drive. Data on resource use can be tracked by counting the number of mandatory permits issued, or by assessing self-issued permits at trailheads. Turnstiles, parking meters, and tickets are also viable options here.

Another interesting application of observational methods takes place in for-profit technical and career colleges. These colleges often come under fire for enrolling students who will not be successful in their programs or making employment promises that cannot be kept. To combat any abuses, such schools are required to report a number of statistics that they themselves do not control. Specifically, they are required to meet metrics related to the percentage of graduates employed in their field, the percentage of graduates who default on their student loan debt, and their pass rates on national standard certification exams.

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