Meaning Of Field Investigation/Field Survey:
In addition to desk research, marketing research can be conducted through field investigation. For this, field surveys are conducted. They are used for primary data collection in MR. Survey means a planned attempt to collect required information from a representative sample of the relevant population. Field investigation means collecting first hand information by actually visiting markets or meeting consumers and dealers who are directly connected with the marketing activities.Data collected for the first time through field survey are called primary data. Here, the data are collected through suitable questionnaire and interviewing a limited number of people (a sample) selected from a/large group. Customers, traders and suppliers are the major sources supplying primary data.
The primary data collected are superior to secondary data. Researchers turn to the primary data in order to overcome the limitations of secondary data which include incompatibility, obsolescence and bias. Primary data are also necessary when the secondary data are incomplete. Researchers prefer to use both primary and secondary data for research purpose as depending fully on secondary data is not fair. Primary data need to be collected from different sources such as surveys, observation and experimentation.
The primary data are reliable. However, the problem in primary data is its cost, both in terms of money and time required for collection. In addition, researcher’s bias also creeps in. Even with such limitations, the primary data are important and useful in MR.
Primary data are of two types: (a) Census,and (b) Sample, Census refers to collection of data from the entire population. In India, population census is taken after every ten years, (the latest census was taken in 2001). It is a lengthy and costly method. As a substitute to census, sampling method of data collection is used.
Sample refers to a pie taken from the population. Sample is a small representative of the whole universe. If the sample size is fair, the conclusions drawn are applicable to the entire universe. Random sampling is a popular method used for data collection.
Sampling is an integral part of data collected through surveys. Sampling is used to collect primary data when the sources of data are too many to be exhaustively handled. A sample is only a representative portion of the universe/population. The sample needs to be decided clearly before starting the survey work.
Field surveys are conducted extensively for the collection of primary data. Personal interview and telephone interviews are arranged for field surveys. A survey consists of gathering data by interviewing limited people. Such survey relates to consumers and other marketing activities.
In survey method, direct communication with consumers/dealers is established and information is collected from them through questionnaire. Survey method is more effective and reliable as compared to desk research. According to Tull and Hawkins, “Survey is the systematic gathering of information from respondents for the purpose of understanding and for predicating some aspect of the behaviour of the population of interest.”