Radical Market Research Idea #1: Banish probability sampling #MRX


I’ve talked about probability sampling before. Unless your population is your immediate family, your immediate colleagues, or your immediate classmates, chances are probability sampling is a theoretical idea. The premise behind probability sampling is that by generating a sample that approximates the population in important characteristics, you will be able to accurately predict population values with sample values.

So let me propose a better system. Forget probability sampling. Strive for predictive sampling. In this sense, select samples that consistently and accurately predict the phenomenon in which you are interested. If a bunch of twelve year olds standing outside the candy store accurately predict the weekly cast-off on American Idol, then it is a GREAT predictive sample. If a bunch of eighty year grammas accurately predict each state election, then it is a GREAT predictive sample. That is predictive sampling.

I truly don’t care what a sample looks like as long as it reliably and accurately predicts future behaviour. Isn’t that what you too are striving for? I think so. The trick is though, what exactly is the predictive sample? Whomever discovers that will be a wealthy person.

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