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Market Research Definitions

Sample:
A group that is selected to study as a representative of the true population for a given experiment. The study is often conducted to understand how the population will react to an item by first testing it on a sample that represents the population that the item will target.

Sample Distribution:
A measurement of the responses given from a single sample organized by frequency.

Sample Population:
The description of the characteristics that define a particular population from which a sample is taken.

Sample Size:
Number of sample units to be included in the sample.

Sample Space:
A set including all possible outcomes for a particular experiment.

Sampling:
A process using a segment (sample) of a population to represent the entire population’s activities, attitudes, opinions, and interests and the results from the sample study can be inferred upon the population.

Sampling Distribution of the Proportion:
A normally distributed graph showing combined proportion frequencies from many samples within a single population.

Sampling Distribution of the Sample Means:
A normally distributed graph showing combined mean frequencies from many samples within a single population.

Sampling Distribution of the Sample Statistic:
A probability distribution displaying probabilities of all possible variables that might occur with repeated sampling.

Sampling Error:
An assumed inaccuracy associated with using the sample results as an indication of the behavior of the population.

Sampling Fraction:
The ratio comparing sample size to population size.

Sampling Frame:
A set defining which individuals, households, or institutions qualify for a sample, then the sample is drawn from those elements.

Sampling Interval:
The process of taking a list, and selecting each nth unit as a participant in a study. The interval creates random selection throughout the population and is decided upon by dividing the total population by the number of sample units desired. Also referred to as interval or Nth selection.

Sampling Unit:
Those units that qualify to be sampled and are available during the sampling process to be selected.

Scale:
A technique used for participants to measure an object based on set characteristics. Scales are close-ended questions that require one of the offered responses as the respondent’s answer.

Scaled-Response Questions:
Select answer choices that are offered to contain the intensity of the attitude of the participant toward the object being measured.

Screener:
Testing questions used to determine if participants are suitable for specific studies.

Screening:
Contacting, qualifying and inviting respondents to participate in additional research.

Screenout:
This is a respondent that do not meet the qualifying criteria to participate in the survey research.

Secondary Data:
Data that was collected previously and not for the particular study at hand.

Secondary Research:
The analysis of research that had been collected at an earlier time (for reasons unrelated to the current project) that can be applied to a study in progress.

Sectional Center Facility (SCF):
Geographic regions identified by the first three digits of a ZIP code.

Segment:
A selected area defined by demographic characteristics as identified by a researcher.

Segmentation:
Separating the population into subsets by common attributes. Age, income, product preference are just a few attributes.

Selection:
Procedure used to distinguish which records to investigate on means of targeted characteristics from a population.

Selection Bias:
A bias that is present when choosing between the test group and the control group due to logical differences in the units.

Selection Error:
An error that occurs in sampling when the researcher is pursuing sampling procedures that are either improper or incomplete.

Selective Perception:
The act of a listener or reader choosing to filter out or not pay attention to stimuli either consciously or unconsciously.

Selective Research:
The process researchers go through to determine which, of many alternatives, they will choose to study.

Self-Administered Questionnaire (SAQ):
Questionnaires that are executed without an interviewer.

Semantic Differential:
A scale that compares competitors by recognizing how each competitor ranks with a pair of words or phrases. The score or average measurement determines the correlation between a word and the object being tested. Similar to Likert Scale.

Sentence and Story Completion:
A technique used to stimulate participants where the researcher begins a sentence or story and has the respondent finish the thought in their own words. This allows creativity to flow in the mind of the participant in ways that might not have surfaced on their own.

Sequential Testing:
When a participant is utilized to test a single product, then, after evaluating the first product, is asked to test and evaluate a second related or unrelated product to the first.

Sex Ratio:
A ratio finding the number of males in a population for every 100 females in the same population.

Shopper Patterns:
An observed mapping that establishes the patterns used by shopper’s footsteps within a store.

Short Census Form:
A form that each American household is asked to answer every ten years for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sigmoid Curve:
The S-shaped regression curve measuring growth prior to T and after T. This line is non-linear which allows it to illustrate regression of a dependent variable such as growth.

Sign-Out Sheets or Sign-Off:
Records completed at the end of a study so that a facility has an accurate account of which respondents participated so that the facility keeps track of how they need to compensate the individuals.

Significant Difference:
In a statistical test, it must be proven that the results found are strong enough to prove that the hypothesis needs to be rejected or fails to be rejected. Variance in confidence levels change the strength of the difference needed to be substantial.

Simple Random Sample (SRS):
A sample conducted in which each member of the population has an equal opportunity of being selected. Can also be called a random sample.

Simulated Sales Test:
A setup used to test the success of a product’s sales potential through trial and use in an artificial market setting that imitates the true conditions of the marketplace.

Simulated Test Market (STM):
The testing of a product’s success done through statistics and data analysis from survey results. This method is less expensive than a market simulation.

Single-Number Research:
A lack of research so that results are dependent on a single statistic.

Site Evaluation:
Assessing a geographical location by the demographic and economic characteristics that it contains as a process of determining whether the area yields a market that will cater to the offered good or service.

Skewed:
A weighted distribution that is not symmetrical which results in having one tail longer than the other on a frequency curve. The skew is titled after the longest tail, for example, if the right side had the longest tail, it would be called skewed right.

Skip Pattern:
A survey format that reacts to the respondent’s previous answer to a question. The survey might read “If no, skip to question 6” because the questions that immediately follow the initial question will relate to the initial.

Snowball Samples:
An additional convenience sample pulled from referrals that were given by current participants.

Social Indicator:
The quality of life analyzed to produce a numerical measure.

Solomon Four-Group Design:
Research in where two groups of both the experimental and control groups are studied to reduce the likeliness of irrelevant variables in the research.

Spearman Rank-Order Correlation:
A method of analysis for ordinal data and correlation relationships.

Specialized Service or Support Firms:
Firms that complete specific parts of the research for several corporate clients. Examples of provided services are data processing or statistical analysis.

Specifications:
A list of characteristics that participants must possess in order to qualify for a particular survey, interview, or focus group. These characteristics often include demographics, product use behavior, product awareness, etc.

Speedsters:
Speedsters are respondents that do not read the survey research questions and only select random answers to finish the survey as fast as possible. To report Speedsters visit PureSample

Split-Half Technique:
A method used to check measuring instruments where half of the data is computed and is then correlated against the other half of data. A correlation coefficient of .9 would ensure an acceptable level of reliability in measurement.

Sponsor:
The client or organization paying for the research.

Sponsor/Sponsorship:
Corporate attempts to gain association with a site by helping to fund that site by placing an advertisement on the site. The advertiser gains from either a content integration or a conventional ad.

Spurious Association:
Additional relationships to the dependent variable that, when changed, may cause changes in the dependent variable.

Stability:
Consistency in results after being tested multiple times. Mostly refers to the low probability of varying each time the object is tested.

Standard Deviation:
A measure of dispersion that is found mathematically by the positive square root of the average squared difference between the mean and the sample or population values.

Standard Error:
The error between the mean and the actual value as defined by the standard deviation. Standard error can also be found by taking the square root of the variance.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC):
Assigned codes (usually 4 digits but can be as many as 6) from the U.S. Department of Commerce used to classify businesses. Codes with additional characters relate to the specificity of the classification.

Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA):
A term, no longer used by the U.S. Bureau of Census, that represented a region including one or more counties surrounding a central urban stretch.

Standard Normal Distribution:
A distribution curve that is centered on the mean which is equal to zero and the standard deviation is one.

Stapel Scale:
A scale ranging from -5 to +5 that asks respondents to choose how well a given word (characteristic) describes a product or service and whether that strength portrays a positive or negative image.

Starting Point:
The initial number chosen when utilizing an Nth sampling interval.

State Data Center:
A central location that organizes all of the state’s data (a planning agency, university, or library) that the U.S. Census Bureau utilizes for training, assistance, and consultation purposes.

Static-Group Comparison:
Pre-testing a research design using both an experimental and a control group. There is a lack of random selection for the sample and there are no taken pre-measurements.

Statistic:
A calculated numerical quantity derived from the number of observations and occurrences in a sample.

Statistical Control:
An adjustment to an equation to prevent confounded variables from adjusting the dependent variable’s value within each treatment condition.

Statistical Inference:
Making conclusions about a population from the results of a sample.

Statistical Test:
Measures of significance applied to collected data using a probability sample. This determines if the null hypothesis might be rejected and there is a degree of reliable difference between the two data sets.

Statistics:
Practice of collecting, organizing, describing, and analyzing data to draw conclusions from the data to apply to a cause.

Stochastic Fancy:
Another term describing chance or randomness.

Strata:
A population segment based on stated characteristics.

Strategic Partnering:
A partnership entered by two or more market research firms with difference skills and resources to provide their clients with a more complete package.

Stratified Random Sample:
A more specific representative sample that first divides the population into strata per certain characteristics, then a particular number participants are randomly selected from each strata (determined by percentages in the actual population).

Structured Observation:
A research study in which the observer records what they are witnessing. Can be done by filling out a questionnaire form or counting the occurrences of a certain activity.

Structured Query Language (SQL):
Interfacing programming language that accesses data from a data warehouse.

Structured Question:
A questionnaire that already includes fixed answers. The interviewer reads the question and answers and records which answer the respondent selected.

Structured Response:
The respondent must choose from predetermined responses provided on the questionnaire.

Stub:
Represents the dependent variable as a heading in computer tables.

Sub-Block:
Recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as the smallest segment of the country for which demographic data is provided.

Subject:
The item that the study is being performed on. Subjects are also referred to as participants, respondents, experimental units, units, or units of analysis.

Subjective Question:
A survey question that requires the respondent to generate a response in their own words as opposed to selecting an answer from a list. Subjective questions are also called open-ended questions.

SUGGING:
This is the unethical practice of selling under the guise of research. The individual purports to collect market research from the respondent but is actually attempting to make a sale. SUGGING is quite harmful for respondent cooperation.

Sum of Squares due to Regression:
Using regression to explain variation.

Sunbelt:
The South and West regions of the United States defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Supervisor's Instructions:
Exact directions written for the field service so that each survey will be conducted the same way.

Surrogate Information Error:
An error formed by an inconsistency between the information sought by the researcher and the information that is needed to solve a problem.

Survey Objectives:
The information that researchers are looking to use as decision making information from the questionnaire results.

Survey Research:
A method of research to collect participant responses on facts, opinions, and attitudes through questionnaires.

Synchronous Online Groups:
An online focus group formed by one or more moderators, participants (usually around six), and clients have an opportunity to participate also in modified rooms.

Syndicated Research:
Research performed by a firm that decides the population, questions to be asked, and intervals between studies. Syndicated research results are often purchased by multiple clients who then share results and costs.

Syndicated Service Research Firms:
Marketing research firms that collect, package and sell their data to many clients (each client receives the same information).

Systematic Sample:
A method of randomly selecting a sample by using every Nth unit from a population until the sample quota is reached. This type of interval sampling should also start with a random unit.

Systemic Error:
An error in the methods or implementation of the research.

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