What is Market Research Recruiting?
Recruiting is one of the most important, and surprisingly difficult steps in conducting most qualitative (and much quantitative) market research. It is a challenging and time consuming task that requires one to identify, contact and attract the right people to take part in a study. Without the cooperation of those who are truly representative of the target market, the results of a research project will have less or no value.
How Do You Conduct Recruiting?
Not all recruiting is alike. Depending on how many recruits are desired, how quickly they need to be found, and size of budget, there are different approaches to consider. The following are some common ones.
When to Use Each Approach
The time and cost will vary in each case.
- For research that involves the broadest market (think of fast food, coffee, cold medicine, phone service), a very large panel is likely to have members that are representative, so both the time and cost of recruiting will be lower.
- However, if a project requires recruitment from a low incidence (rare) population, more effort and cost will be devoted to find enough participants.
- Careful screening questions and quotas can improve the odds that a person who is invited is truly “qualified” and is not a “professional”.
- Adequate compensation or incentives (e.g. cash, gifts) is a strong motivator to ensure cooperation –whether online, on the phone or in person — but it adds to the expense of the project.
- Providing participants with some form of feedback such as a summary report of findings can also be a good incentive.
- For Qualitative Research (focus groups, one-on-ones or IDIs) it is important to be very clear in instructing and reminding recruits about the date, time and place that they must be. Even a confirmation letter, email or phone call does not ensure compliance with a person’s assurance that they will participate. If work, family or other social obligations arise, a recruit may not contact the research company or show up at all. For this reason, many research studies will over-recruit, expecting a certain absenteeism rate, much as when airlines overbook their flights.
- Recruiting for Online Panels creates a different set of potential problems. When people are told that they can earn points, gifts or cash, there might be a temptation to join for that,and no other reason. There may be little to no incentive to be honest, thoughtful or careful in answering any questions. Ideally, the subject matter, or product/service being studied will be salient and relevant to the participant. Knowing their answers to a set of profile questions can help to mitigate this issue.
- In all cases, the best way to go about recruiting is to use a third party. This can be the same company that is conducting the study if you are outsourcing it, or it can be a list broker or panel provider that you contact yourself.