Market research survey observation in West Delhi

On Tuesday of this week, I had the opportunity to observe fieldwork for a market research survey being conducted by Impetus Research.

This was a multi-city urban sample (Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Nagpur, Lucknow, and Kochi) of chocolate consumers between the ages of 8 and 29. It had a computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) methodology in which field investigators administered the survey by knocking on doors and entering respondents’ answers into a laptop.

The sample for Delhi was drawn up by dividing the city into five segments: North, East, West, South, and Central. A total of twenty-five starting points were drawn up across these zones–five selected randomly in each zone. From each starting point, interviewers knocked on the door of the first household to the right, asking if anyone who met the screening criteria was at home. If no one who met those criteria was at home and able or willing to do the survey, the interviewer continued immediately to the next household on the right. When an interview was completed, the interviewer skipped two households before attempting another interview. In this way, eight interviews were to be completed at each sampling point (a total of n=200 for Delhi).

I observed the morning shift of one of the interviewers, Niranjan, as he conducted three interviews in Vikaspuri, a mixed-income neighborhood in West Delhi. Because of the strict screening criteria, many of the households had to be skipped. A number of households were wary of the researcher, and my presence also drew attention in the neighborhood.

It took seven attempts before Niranjan could land his first interview with a respondent, a 22-year-old household who was wearing a pink scarf and neon pink lipstick. She stepped outside the door to talk to us and was fairly engaged with the questions but became impatient near the end. When a man in the household asked about who was at the door, she shouted back, “Surveywallah hai [It’s a survey taker]!” This man later joined her at the door to express curiosity about the survey. The household socioeconomic status was coded as B, since her husband is a shopowner (he has a beauty shop). For this survey, socioeconomic status was coded based on the occupation and education of the chief wage earner in the household.

It took another two attempts before landing another interview. This time it was with a 21-year-old male student wearing thick-rimmed glasses and a yellow polo shirt. Because his father was an accountant, the socioeconomic status of the household was coded as A. The young man stayed behind the screen door of his flat as he took the survey. At one point, he was asked by his mother what he was doing, but she did not join him at the door.

The last interview for the morning was with a 15-year-old boy. We had to go back to the starting point and turned left this time, since we had run out of houses in the block on the right. The boy lived on a first floor flat (second floor in American parlance), and we walked up some narrow stairs to talk to him. His brother stood nearby as the survey was administered. The boy’s father was a chartered accountant, so the household’s socioeconomic status was coded as A.

This interview was finished at around 1:30 PM. Because many people were not home in the afternoon, Niranjan would return in the evening to finish up the remaining interviews in Vikaspuri.

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