What to Consider for Sample Design in Malaysia

Malaysia has a resident population of 32 million people of which 90% are citizens.

Malaysia consists of 13 states and 3 Federal Territories (FT). When sampling main metro Kuala Lumpur (“KL”), surrounding districts of Selangor are also included (collectively known as Klang Valley). Although some CPG clients run ‘national’ studies, in practice, most research focuses on 3 main market centres: Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic Society. The 3 main ethnic groups are Malays (69%), Chinese (23%) and Indians (7%). Considerable disparities between rural vs. urban economic standing, and the uneven purchasing power across ethnicity, may need to be considered when designing sample plans.

Bahasa Malaysia is the official language. English and Malay are widely spoken among most Malaysians, to varying degrees of proficiency. However, many Chinese prefer to speak their own languages. For quantitative studies, it is usual to script all 3 languages; Focus groups may be multi-ethnic and run in English if upper SEC, else they need to be ‘split’ by ethnicity due to these language constraints.

Islam is the official religion, practised by 60%+ of the population. It is important to considercultural & religious sensitivities relating to dressing and food when Malays are to be interviewed.

Residential telephone line penetration is below 15% compared to 100%+ for cellular subscription. Thus, random CATI is generally impractical as there is no reliable ‘directory’ for cellular numbers.

Door-to-door sampling is becoming more challenging as more people move to gated communities as incomes improve and due to crime & safety concerns. For similar reasons street intercept in main cities is also very difficult.

Time-keeping tends to be lax due to both innate culture and also traffic conditions. FGD or interview appointments rarely keep to planned schedules.

The Research Pacific Group manages all work in MY from its regional project management centre in Singapore, working with local field resources and moderators in Malaysia as appropriate. For further information, please click here.

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