The techniques rely primarily on expert observation coupled with semi-structured interviewing of farmers, local leaders and officials.
In substance the techniques of RRA have much in common with the social anthropologist's case study approach but are executed over a period of weeks, or at most months, rather than extending over several years.
The role that Rapid Rural Marketing Appraisal (RRMA) can play in this broad sense of marketing research lies in the identification and prioritisation of marketing problems, and the evaluation of practical means of improving marketing functions, to meet the needs for expansion coupled with higher performance.
With the idea of RRA in mind, he is "convinced that the same message could have been put across more quickly, cheaply and effectively, with evidence drawn from a smaller, purposively selected and studied sample and with no significant reduction in reliability".
Ellman was later commissioned to carry out another study, and having learnt from that earlier experience, he identified the minimum amount of data that was required and was likely to be effectively used for planning purposes.
The chapter goes on to discuss the relative advantages of RRA relative to other methods and techniques, and its distinctive characteristics are identified.
This is followed by an overview of the principles of RRA as applied within marketing.
The application of RRA has been quite wide as regards rural development, for example in health, nutrition, emergencies and disasters, non-formal education, agroforestry, natural resource assessment and sociology approaches.