When you ask this question, you don’t want a lecture on statistical significance. You want to know – what sample size is sensible and will be accepted by journalists?
If you’re doing a piece of consumer research, the answer to “what size should my sample be?” is often easy. 500 if you’re cash strapped. 1000 if you want something quick. 2000 if you want to break the data down by lots of demographics. When looking to research professional decision makers, there are more variables to consider. Here are a few questions you need to ask
“Please can I have 1000 interviews with C-Level execs with exactly two dogs and two cats?” …. Erm… no, sorry. If your audience is niche, it’s going to be difficult to get a good sample size (and it will be more expensive!). If we can’t get more than 100 interviews try broadening your specifications. Even the smallest changes to company size or industry restrictions can make a big difference to feasibility.
Do you want to break down the data?
Breaking data down by country, job role, or company size can make great headlines. However, the more you break it down, the smaller the individual sample sizes become. We recommend having at least 50 interviews in each subsection. Say you want to break down the data by the following company size brackets: 1-99 employees, 100 – 499 employees, and 500+ employees. Aim for at least 150 interviews in total, with 50 in each bracket.
How niche is the audience?
A small, relevant sample is better than a large sample that can’t give you the answers you need. Journalists will accept a smaller sample if it’s a niche audience. Here are some guidelines for different audience types:
- 1000 interviews: Employed people, office workers
- 500 interviews: Business Decision makers, IT professionals, people employed in a specific company size
- 200 interviews: IT Decision makers, Marketing Decision makers, C-suite, Business Decision makers in a specific company size/industry
- 100 interviews: Niche responsibilities, and when restrictions on company size, industry, and decision making responsibility are all required
If you need help figuring out your sample size, or want a quote, drop us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org