Sample Size Calculation:
Simple Trick to Calculate the Perfect Sample Size

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When it comes to market research surveys, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is determining the right sample size. This number will determine how accurate your results are, and it’s crucial to get it right. So how do you calculate the perfect sample size? It’s not as difficult as you might think!

In this article, we will walk you through the process step-by-step. We’ll also provide a few tips to help you ensure that your survey produces accurate results.

What is Sample Size?

To begin with, let’s define what a sample size is. A sample size is the number of people who participate in your market research survey. This group will be used to represent a bigger population and provide you with insights on the opinions, behaviors, and characteristics of that larger segment.

It’s important to get your sample size right because it can directly affect the accuracy of your results. If your sample size is too small, you won’t have enough data points to draw useful conclusions from. On the other hand, if it’s too large, then you could be wasting time and resources collecting more data than necessary.


Variables needed for a sample size calculation

Before you can determine the right sample size for your survey, there are a few variables that you will need to consider. These include, the population size of your target segment, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, and the confidence level you want to achieve. The population size is important because it helps establish how large or small of a sample size is required; while the margin of error and confidence level will help determine how accurate your results must be.

1. Population size:

Population size refers to the total number of people in a given target segment. For example, if you want to conduct market research on Australian adults aged 18-35, your population size would be the total number of Australian adults within that age group.

This is an important factor to consider when calculating the sample size, as it will help determine how large or small your sample needs to be. In general, larger populations require larger samples in order to produce accurate results.

2. Margin of Error (Confidence interval):

Margin of error (also known as a confidence interval) is the range of results that you’re willing to accept when conducting research. It’s expressed as a percentage and it reflects how much variation or uncertainty you are comfortable with in your data.

For example, if you specify a 5% margin of error, then 95% of the survey responses should fall within 5% of the true population value. This means that if your target segment is composed of 1000 people, then the maximum acceptable difference between your sample size and the true population value should be 50 people – i.e., 950-1000 people.

3. Confidence level:

The confidence level is the probability that your sample size will accurately represent the target population. In other words, it’s a measure of how confident you are in the results from your survey. It’s usually expressed as a percentage and ranges from 50% to 95%. The higher the confidence level, the more accurate your data will be. 

For example, if you specify a 90% confidence level, then you can expect that 90% of the time, your survey responses will be within 5% of the true population value.

4. Standard deviation:

Standard deviation is a statistical measure that describes how far away from the mean (average) of a particular set of numbers the individual numbers are. It’s used to calculate the amount of variability in a data set, and it can help you determine if your sample size is large enough to produce accurate results. 

To explain this concept more clearly, let’s look at an example. Say you have a survey with 10 questions and each question has 5 possible answers. The standard deviation will tell you how many people chose each answer, so if one answer was chosen by 40% of people, another was chosen by 20%, and so on, then the standard deviation would tell you how much this result varies from the average response across all 10 questions. If all 10 questions had the same average result (i.e., 40% of people chose each answer), then the standard deviation would be zero – i.e., there’s no variation from the mean.

Now, when it comes to calculating sample size, you need to decide how large a sample needs to be in order for your results to capture this variability accurately. To do this, you can use a formula that takes into account both population size and standard deviation. The larger your population size and/or higher your standard deviation is, the larger your sample will need to be in order to produce accurate results.

How to Calculate Sample Size

Before you can calculate your sample size, you will also need to know your z-score. A z-score is a statistical measure that tells you how many standard deviations away from the mean (average) of a data set a particular number lies. The higher the z-score, the more accurately your sample size will represent the target population.

Your z-score is based on the confidence level you want your market research to achieve. A list of typical confidence levels used for market research and their associated z-score can be found in the table below:

Automatic Calculation (Using Calculator):

To help simplify your sample size calculation, we have created an easy to use sample size calculator. Enter your desired inputs below to see what sample size you need for your market reserach survey.


Manual Calculation:

If you would like to have a go at calculating your sample size yourself, then plug these figures into the formula below.

If you know the total population size of the audience you can use Formula A. Otherwise use Formula B, for an undetermined or unlimited population size.

Formula A


Formula B

In conclusion

Generally speaking, when calculating sample size it’s a good idea to aim for an absolute minimum of 300 respondents. This will ensure that your survey results are reliable and statistically significant. You may also want to consider increasing this number if you need a very precise result or if you are targeting a particularly narrow sub-population.

It is also important to remember that the larger your sample size, the more accurate your data will be – however, there is a point of diminishing returns where adding further people to the survey offers marginal benefit in terms of accuracy. Therefore, it pays to find the right balance between accuracy and cost-efficiency by selecting an appropriate sample size for your market research survey.

By taking all of these variables into consideration, you can determine what an appropriate sample size is for conducting market research on your target segment. It’s important to note, however, that the sample size you choose will depend on the specific objectives of your research – so it’s best to consult with a professional market researcher in order to get an appropriate number for your particular project.

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