Recruiting for Focus Groups

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Companies looking to launch a new product or service often hire market research companies to conduct qualitative research to explore the thinking, perceptions, and the decision-making processes of participants. There are a number of methodologies used in qualitative research, whether it be a focus group, in-depth interview (IDI), online bulletin board, or mobile tracking. Professional market researchers often employ a variety of methodologies when exploring the “how” and “why” a consumer behaves or thinks a certain way.

Regardless of the methodology chosen for qualitative research, the most important component is the quality of participants recruited. Many market research firms understand that recruiting is time-intensive and an expensive component of the overall project and often outsource this vital task to qualified recruiting firms.

Experienced qualitative recruitment firms have access to well-organized databases from which to choose participants that best match the demographic and geographic requirements for qualitative studies. Beyond finding the right people is managing them so they follow through and participate in the study. This follow-up and follow-through of managing recruits is why research companies are so keen to outsource this to the professionals.

What are the keys to successful recruiting? Here are four steps that recruiting firms often take when soliciting participants for studies.  

Step 1: Finding Participants

One of the first questions recruiters ask is how best to reach potential participants? If a majority of a targeted respondent base prefers to be reached by phone, then recruiters know to pick up the phone rather than send an email. The opposite is also true. Cold calling people can feel futile as many people will ignore a call from unknown numbers. Understanding the targeted demographic is useful here.

Beyond phone calls and emails, recruiting firms spend a lot of time on social media developing networks that allow them to put out the word when looking for a specific type of participant.

Successful recruiting firms will employ a variety of tactics to reach qualified participants.  

Step 2: Screening Participants

Once potential participants have been identified and contacted to gauge interest, the next step is to screen the participants to make sure their backgrounds, interests, or professions match the subject matter being studied.  

Let’s say a client is putting together a focus group to study the online gaming habits of young men between the age of 18-30. Just because a recruiter has a large pool of young men in this age group, doesn’t mean they are good candidates. A recruiter will screen the whittled down list to ensure the participants meet the specifications of the study.

Screening is also important when considering geographic regions. If a company is looking to focus on a specific area, then screening potential participants to ensure they live or work within the targeted area is critical. It does little good to recruit a person who lives in Ohio if the study is intended for Oregonians.

Step 3: Saying “I do”

Once a recruiter has screened the best qualified participants, the next step is extending an invitation to participate. This is where the rubber meets the road in the recruiting process. It isn’t uncommon for schedules not to align, or other obligations that prohibit potential recruits from actually committing. Most seasoned recruiters will tell you that for every five qualified potential participants only one will commit. Getting participants from “I’m interested” to “I do” can sometimes be the most frustrating part of recruiting. This is why longer established recruiting firms are constantly updating their databases. The bigger the pool to draw from, the easier it is to get the most qualified people to participate.

Step 4: The Follow Through

Now that all the participants have been identified, screened, and pinned down, the next step a recruiter takes is making sure each participant has been given all the particulars. Sending confirmation emails, explaining compensation (if any), laying the groundwork, and then coordinating with the market researcher are the next steps in the recruitment process. There are often a lot of questions participants want answered, which is another reason market research firms like to outsource recruiting to the professionals.

Want to learn more about recruiting for your next study? Contact us here.