The 'Pepsi Challenge' marketing campaign is an example of convenience sampling. It is held in public places like shopping malls, and people are asked to participate in it without discrimination of any sorts. Such campaigns help gain initial primary data regarding the product.
In statistical analysis, 'sampling' means collecting samples, i.e., data from a subset of a statistical population. The findings from such a survey are extrapolated to represent the characteristics and preferences of the entire population.
A statistical population refers to that entire group of people, animals, plants, things, places, etc., about which we are interested to gain understandings and insights. Based on the method of collecting data, sampling is classified into probability and non-probability sampling. Convenience sampling is a non-probability sampling method.
Depending on the goal it strives to attain, a research is classified into quantitative or qualitative. Convenience sampling uses qualitative research. In qualitative research, we strive to understand why certain quantities are preferred or a particular decision is made. Here, we look into the details of convenience sampling.
When conducting a research on a certain topic, in convenience sampling, you ask questions to those people who are easily accessible to you, instead of conducting the study on a huge number and a variety of people.
A convenience sample cannot be considered as a representation of data that is gathered exhaustively from all the possible sources. It is also not selected from sources that are carefully or scientifically chosen.
Thus, the data we have collected does not include all the teenagers in the city, but only those that were readily available and within the proximity of the researcher.
» If a news channel wants to conduct a survey on the views of people on a certain social issue, they may ask their viewers to respond via text messages. The samples of data so collected are from the people who choose to respond, and from people who have a mobile phone that has the ability to send text messages.
Thus, convenience samples are collected by asking people on the streets, a shopping mall, or other public places as they pass by. They are collected by asking people who agree to volunteer; this may include the people within the vicinity or within the social circle of the researcher. The samples can be collected from the visitors of a particular website too.
When it is Used
Such kind of sampling is useful in a pilot study. It can be used to identify the upcoming trends and get funding for a larger, more detailed sampling.
Convenience sampling is also conducted when it is practically not possible to carry out a survey of the entire or a larger group of people. For example, the authorities of a university may not give the data of its students to a sociologist, but it may allow him to conduct surveys of as many students as he can find.
What You Should Know
The findings so obtained from a convenience sample cannot be generalized for the entire population. The intellectual credibility of the data also cannot be guaranteed as it may be biased to a certain group of people.
Conducting a survey of the entire population is very expensive and time-consuming. But in convenience sampling, the information is available within lesser time and it saves money too. It also requires lesser effort on the part of the researcher.
When releasing the results of such a study, the researcher should mention the group of people it represents and the group it leaves out; for example: a poll on a social topic by an e-newspaper website can say that the opinions represent that of netizens and not the general public.