Visitor Survey

Ideally, Visitor Surveys should be conducted on the same days as Visitor Counts. This makes it easier to know if the market collected a representative number of responses based on the attendance that day. If it’s not possible to complete both the Visitor Count and Visitor Surveys on the same day, then surveying the week following a Visitor Count is the next best approach. This will allow for a closer relationship between the attendance and the number of surveys and also allows the market to schedule the same data collection team for consecutive weeks. 

Step 1: Identify Sample Size, Selection Interval and Number of Data Collectors
The sample size is the number of surveys needed to provide a reasonably representative amount of responses. The sample sizes listed in the table below will provide a 90% confidence level, with 5% margin of error. Try to reach your minimum sample size over the course of at least two, but ideally more market days, so you reach the widest variety of visitors.

Biases held by the data collectors as well as the respondents can influence who is selected to participate, as well as who agrees to participate. However, surveys should represent a random selection of market visitors. To account for these biases, data collectors should follow a systematic approach to selecting people who pass by to be interviewed. Depending on the sample size required at your market, a corresponding selection interval is provided. For example, if the visitor survey selection interval is 4, the data collector will survey every ‘4th’ adult that crosses the survey line.

Visitors who volunteer to take the survey, but who aren’t in the selection interval should be allowed to take the survey, to support the desire for participation. The volunteered surveys can be separated out when entering the data (be sure the data collectors circle “volunteer” on these surveys).

Step 2: Map the Survey Line
Identify locations in the market where you can administer the survey. Near the market info booth, or a main entrance typically works well. Establish (or chalk) a line near the survey area. The data collectors will count the adults that walk past the line and ask every Nth adult to take the survey (the ‘Nth adult’ refers to the selection interval). If possible, have a table for shoppers to put down their items, or an umbrella for cover if the day is warm or misty.

Step 3: Prepare Materials
Customize the Visitor Survey template with your market name, the date of the survey, the target number of surveys to be completed and the selection interval that data collectors should use. Print enough surveys to fulfill your goal, as well as plenty of extras. Gather enough clipboards for your data collectors, pens and pencils.

Optional materials include chalk to draw your survey line, a hand clicker for each data collector doing selection interval counting, and stickers to provide to visitors who complete the survey. It can be useful to provide stickers so that visitors who have already completed the survey aren’t asked again.


Step 4: Implementation
Show the market map to your data collectors. Identify where they will administer the survey, how they will execute the selection interval (i.e., count adults that cross the ‘survey line’).

If possible, ask one of the data collectors to manage interval selection; they’ll approach every Nth market visitor to cross the survey line, ask that visitor if they’re willing to take a short survey, and direct them to a data collector with the surveys. This is especially important for larger markets.

Provide the data collectors with the clipboards, Visitor Surveys, pens and counters. Go over the following instructions:

  1. Ask every Nth adult visitor who crosses the survey line to take a survey. A good opener is “Do you have a minute to help the market?”
  2. Ask the survey questions verbally, and record the answers on the survey form.
  3. If a visitor outside of the interval count volunteers to take the survey, circle ‘volunteer,’ on the survey. If a visitor does not want to complete the survey, asking them to participate does not count towards your minimum sample size. Identify the next respondent through the selection interval. In other words, don’t just ask the next adult to complete the survey.

Follow up with data collectors throughout the day to answer questions and hear about their experiences.

Tips for a Successful Survey
Conduct a few role plays with collectors before they begin so they can be confident from the start in their surveying. Positive energy makes surveying people at markets a fun job and increases their effectiveness.

Whatever the target number of surveys is, spread the number evenly across the hours the market is open. If all surveys are collected in the first hour, the answers will skew to a specific demographic and may not represent the entire spectrum of shoppers that the market attracts.

Set a targeted number of surveys for each hour and each collector. If one collector misses their target for the hour and another exceeds theirs, take them aside and have them run some quick role plays for a few minutes or even switch locations.