What is Convenience Sampling?

Definition: Convenience Sampling is a statistical technique to gather data from subjects that are conveniently accessible. In other words, the sample is selected based on availability and not according to more elaborate screening processes.

What Does Convenience Sampling Mean?

A convenience sampling process is one of the non-probability sampling methods employed to conduct a given statistical research. After identifying the target population the researcher must define what’s the proper method to gather data from a representative group (sample) of that population. Differently from probabilistic techniques such as random sampling or stratified sampling, convenience sampling is based on the degree of accessibility to data sources, this means, subjects are selected because they are easy to reach. This reduces the researcher’s effort but increases the chances of not representing the population’s overall picture with the chosen sample.

On the other hand, this is a convenient technique for startups and pilot testing projects, where resources are limited and the margins of error allowed are wider than more complex research assignments. This method is also frequently employed in work environment studies, where Human Resources Departments investigate the employee’s opinions about their workplace. Normally, these studies cover the most convenient locations and the findings are regarded as reliable but they are actually based on convenience and they don’t always cover all the facilities where the company functions.

Example

Mex-Gourmet Co. is a Mexican restaurant located in a highly transited shopping mall. The restaurant just opened and they want to see the public’s reaction to the new exotic flavors they are currently offering on the menu. In order to do so, they designed a sampling campaign that will include a survey to gather and analyze the people’s opinion.

This campaign will be implemented at the mall and they will have five different stands in different locations of the building. Since there is no way Mex-Gourmet can screen the sample properly (anyone can taste and comment), the opinions obtained through the research can’t be considered representative to the whole population but the convenience of locating the stands at the mall is the only option they have, for now, to research their audience. They hope to get enough surveys to get a clearer view about the public’s preferences, to adjust the menu accordingly.