The Comcrash Internet Company of Edgewater, British Columbia, has funded a data collection research effort in the local area to obtain accurate information on the number of households that currently have internet connections in their homes. The U Bet Research Company was awarded the contract to collect, tabulate, and write a final report on their findings. These results will be used by Comcrash to develop a marketing plan to gain a sizeable percentage of the internet business in the area.
Primary and Secondary Data Collection Report
The U Bet Research Company will conduct research in the local area to determine the number of households with internet connections to assist the Comcrash Internet Company marketing efforts to get new subscribers and also convince present subscribers to other internet companies to join Comcrash.
The research team has called a meeting to discuss the fastest, most cost effective, and accurate means to collect the information that Comcrash needs for their marketing department. The local area is divided into several small towns that are linked by secondary roads, the main profession is farming, and there is one intermediate size telephone company provider. A smaller telephone company that provides about 25% of the local residential service is their only competition. Television reception is still received through antennas and the nearest cable television station is over 100 miles away.
The internet connections in the area would have to be through the telephone lines. The current Internet Service Provider (ISP) charges their customers a very high service fee and monthly charge because of the locality and also since they are a small local company that only provides service to about 2,000 homes. Comcrash could become the ISP of choice in this area with accurate subscriber data and a good marketing plan.
The research team has decided to collect the data through a series of report reviews from the Internet Service Provider and the two telephone companies in the area. Each company has an annual report, information to investors, sales analysis reports, internal memos, letters to the community or customers, census figures, and any other documentation that is on public record and available. These can be used as a starting point for a secondary data collection research effort. If the number of subscribers seems to be large enough then they will launch a primary data collection effort.
The primary research effort could include a mail in survey that includes a stamped return envelope, a telephone canvassing effort using the local telephone number data base and a random call software package, or a door to door interview covering the entire residential areas.
The research team has to evaluate the different approaches and recommend a primary or secondary search, a combination of both, or only a secondary data collection effort. Comcrash has given them a specific budget and this includes a modest amount to conduct the actual data collection and a fixed price to write the report.
The use of only secondary research would be more cost effective, but less accurate. The annual reports may be over a year old, the letters to investors may have been written to give them the impression that the company is doing great when it is actually in financial trouble, customer complaints may be hidden from the investors and the actual number of customers may have been exaggerated for the same reason, census figures are not always accurate because a lot of rural people don’t like strangers coming to their homes or they refused to complete and return it thinking that the government will use it to raise their taxes, and any corporate memos may have only been released to the corporate officers and not the employees or general public.
However, a search of the telephone companies serving the local community would give them a fairly accurate total of the number of households that have telephone service in their homes. This will provide a total number of possible customers and this can be compared to the results from the primary data collection.
The three possible primary methods of data collection: Mail Survey, Telephone Interview or door- to- door canvassing, will be the most accurate, but not the fastest or most cost efficient means of collecting the necessary information. A survey received in the mail could easily be ignored unless they were given a reward for completing and returning it in a determined amount of time. The telephone interview done by strangers may cause them to hang up before any questions could be asked and strangers knocking on all the doors in the community might cause problems in a small rural town.
The team members of U Bet Research are now ready to make their recommendations to the management on the best possible approach to determine the total number of homes in the this area that have internet connections. They feel that the most cost effective, fastest and most accurate data collection effort will come from a combination of two methods. The first approach will be to do a secondary research effort at the telephone companies. This will help us to determine the exact number of homes in all the small communities that telephone service or have telephone lines in the vicinity of their homes. The phone records will also assist us in publishing a list of homes to visit during our primary data collection method.
The decision was made to make our primary effort door- to- door interviews done by local members of the community hired as temporary employees by U Bet Research. These local residents will receive a short training class on the survey and survey techniques. They will also receive a free year of internet service from Comcrash. Upon the successful completion of these personal interviews, each home will be given a flyer about Comcrash and the services available. Additionally, they will be a 25% discount coupon for becoming a new customer and signing a one-year contract. Customers switching to Comcrash for their internet service will receive 90 days free service with a 2 year contract.
The reliance on secondary research leaves you open to the reliability of the researcher and the accuracy of the sources. The personal interview brings you face to face with the person providing the information and should provide the most accurate results, although it is not the most cost efficient. The most reliable method for this data collection is a combination of both primary and secondary research.