Before a focus group recruitment agency can begin recruiting for a market research focus group or in-depth interview, they need parameters about the type of participant the study requires. There is no point in conducting qualitative market research if you don’t ask the right questions of the right people. Screening for qualified participants is a critical step for market research recruiting firms. You wouldn’t want a study that focused on alcohol preferences to include underage participants. A screening guide developed by a qualitative research consultant would include demographic targets that would help avoid recruiting participants that were unsuitable to the study.
A screening guide isn’t complicated, but it’s invaluable to recruiters. A screening guide is usually a brief survey that includes characteristics of the people you want to recruit for a focus group or in-depth interview. With a guide in hand the recruiter can ask potential participants the questions in the screener survey to see if they match the characteristics the moderator or research consultant is looking for.
Who to Recruit for Market Research Studies
There is an art to writing screening specifications. To recruit the best-suited candidates, the researcher will put some effort into developing a survey that is appropriate to the subject matter being studied. Screening guides will include questions about demographic information (age, location, income, etc.) and product/service experience, if applicable.
Before you can write a screening guide, you must first have an idea about what type of participants you need for the study. An effective guide will help capture participants that you want and don’t want.
Typically,there are six categories of people you want to talk to when conducting market research:
- Experts: This group will provide expert advice, judgements, and opinions on given topics. Typically, this group includes consultants, industry executives, professionals, analysts, editors/journalists, and professors.
- People who use competitors’ products: talking with this category often provides valuable insight about perceptions and reasons why one product is chosen over another.
- Prospects: These are participants that are willing to try the product/service being studied. Talking with them will provide insights into what would compel them to take action.
- Customers: they have direct experience with a product or service and can share their insights and attitudes.
- Industry personnel (dealers, distributors, retailers): This group can provide unique insights into a product category given their familiarity with selling or servicing. Executives, salespeople, service technicians, and account managers are but some of the people to look for in this category.
- Internal management: comparing internal management perspectives with external perceptions will illuminate the gaps and will help with strategic planning and marketing.
Who Not to Recruit for Market Research Studies
A good screening guide will weed out people without product experience, unless you’re targeting prospects. The goal is to recruit participants who are representative of segments of interest. Recruiters are also on the lookout for ‘professional respondents’ as they can skew the data and usually provide unreliable feedback. Nationwide recruitment agencies keep databases about participants and they can check to see the number of times a respondent has been selected for previous focus groups or interviews.
Working with market research recruitment agencies is your best bet to avoid selecting professional respondents, but they need to be informed that you do not want them in your study.
A robust screening guide paired with the experience of a nationwide recruitment agency will ensure that your market research study will be populated with the best candidates for you project.