The main difference between cluster sampling and stratified sampling is that in cluster sampling the cluster is treated as the sampling unit so analysis is done on a population of clusters (at least in the first stage). In stratified sampling, the analysis is done on elements within strata. In stratified sampling, a random sample is drawn from each of the strata, whereas in cluster sampling only the selected clusters are studied. The main objective of cluster sampling is to reduce costs by increasing sampling effeciency (This contrasts with stratified sampling where the main objective is to increase precision.).

One version of cluster sampling is **area sampling** or **geographical cluster sampling**. Clusters consist of geographical areas. A geographically dispersed population can be expensive to survey. Greater economy than simple random sampling can be achieved by treating several respondents within a local area as a cluster. It is usually necessary to increase the total sample size to achieve equivalent precision in the estimators, but the savings in cost may make that feasible.

In some situations, cluster analysis is only appropriate when the clusters are approximately the same size. This can be achieved by combining clusters. If this is not possible, **probability proportionate to size sampling** is used. In this method, the probability of selecting an element in any given cluster varies inversely with the size of the cluster.

*See also : statistics, marketing research, quantitative marketing research, sampling, multistage sampling, simple random sampling, nonprobability sampling, systematic sampling, stratified sampling*