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A comparison of online and postal data collection methods in marketing research

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The widespread acceptance of the use of online techniques in market research necessitates appreciation of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these techniques over more traditional research methods. This paper reports on a study which directly compares online and postal data collection methods using the same survey instrument on two samples drawn from the same population of football club subscribers. The results confirm that the online and postal respondents are demographically different. Online data collection is shown to be less expensive per respondent and that data collection is faster, however, an overall lower response level is achieved relative to the postal data collection method. Of greater importance, though, are the findings that respondents seem to answer questions differently online than they do via postal methods. The conclusion here is that online data collection should not be treated as a direct substitute for postal data collection in every instance.

Keywords: Data collection; Internet; Marketing research; Online retrieval; Postal services; Surveys

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02634500310465399

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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