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


Former logo of American Idol from 2002 to 2008.

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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