In the market research tutorial, choosing the most appropriate population to survey is the next step in executing your market research project.
Often, once again, this choice will flow out of the study objectives. Are you looking to talk with all current customers, customers with a long relationship with your company, new customers, potential customers, or competitors’ customers?
Maybe you are looking to understand a particular demographic: such as women only or men only, or 18 to 24 year olds, or homeowners, or renters, or the well-educated (college grads or higher), or the less well-educated (no high school degree).
Let’s say your organization wants to expand its revenues by 10% in the coming fiscal year. This expansion could come from persuading your existing customers to spend more with you, or it could come by adding new customers, or it could come from a combination of the two.
In a smart business choice, your organization has decided to include market research to better inform it of how to meet this revenue goal. So, who do you talk to in the research?
Perhaps you’d conduct qualitative market research with existing customers that buy heavily from you to find out what makes them such (presumably) happy customers. And perhaps you’d talk with customers who are only marginal users to find out what barriers they perceive. You might learn that while your customers like you, they prefer one of your competitors because of their service.
You could quantitatively compare your service with your competitors to determine where you are strong and what you need to improve. Now you have some real answers to give management. And you’ve helped the organization meet its goal (and hopefully you’ll be rewarded appropriately!)
All of which is a means to say that the most appropriate population to survey is driven by the information needs your organization has.
Get specific with your objectives and this question answers itself.