The purpose of a survey depends what the survey is used for. The common definition of a survey is that it is a method of gathering information from a selection of individuals.
If a company were carrying out the survey then the purpose would most likely be marketing. Business surveys are carried out to find out what customers like, need and also what they are not in need of. Some businesses will send you surveys after you have purchased something from them. This makes the customer feel that their views are taken into consideration and they will be more likely to purchase from the company in the future because of this. Business surveys also help the company to discover who their customers are, their age, race, and their family size.
Another example of a survey is a behavioural survey. This survey may look at the behaviour of a particular group of people and will normally take the form of a questionnaire. Online surveys are becoming increasingly popular in this form of survey. The questions could ask simple things such as does the person own their own home, do they smoke, and how many cars does the family hold.
An example of a large survey in the United Kingdom is the Census. It is a legal requirement for all households to complete the Census. The questions are quite detailed and ask for information such as the number of people in the household, the ages of the people involved and what jobs they do. This information is kept confidential and held in order to be reviewed years later to see how certain elements of society change over time. There is a penalty for people who do not complete the Census on time, and ultimately they will still be required to complete it.
Marketing, marketing, marketing. Your information is used to collect demographics about your income, lifestyle, and buying habits. Surveys are for the good of businesses to target your particular demographic, like age, race, family size, and how to target you to spend your money with a certain company, like when you buy a car, appliance, phone, clothing, insurance, and the list goes on. I used to enjoy answering surveys, but now refuse to participate because you will be deluged with more calls or junk mail for each survey you answer. It's amazing how much information is collected about people and plenty of your personal information is out there about you, so why give Big Brother any more.
The purpose of a survey is not always for marketing. In fact, academic institutions are primary drivers for survey based research. The survey provides data that can be used to statistically assess phenomena for better understanding and continued development of theories.
The purpose of a survey is for many things, not only in marketing but in school or work too.
In marketing you use surveys to target your audience, like by race, age, and just what they like.
For example if you were selling a wheel chair than your audience would usually be older people or people with hip problems.
When people use surveys in school, they are trying to see how many people like something or see if they think that something should be done around the school, and maybe just something simple like homecoming when the students have to vote on who wins.
So, thats what a survey is for to me.
Tobacco is dangerous to your health.