It is impossible to conduct qualitative market research without study participants. As market studies become more sophisticated and seek to answer more nuanced questions, finding qualified participants becomes more challenging. Many market research companies keep a database of people who have signed up to be called upon for consideration in market research studies, but more and more, qualitative research consultants are hiring nationwide recruitment agencies to look beyond databases and seek out participants that meet the screening requirements.
The value of working with a market research recruiting firm goes beyond just finding study participants, the added benefits include: managing participants from the beginning of a study to its end; paying participants when they’ve completed the study; and managing information so it conforms to privacy standards. These additional advantages make it very cost-effective to use nationwide recruitment services. Trying to manage recruitment internally eats up a lot of time and money for the qualitative research consultant, which is why many nationwide qualitative research firms outsource this crucial task. In candid moments, qualitative market researchers will tell you that recruiting is like herding cats: just when you think that you’ve got everyone corralled and committed to a project’s timeline, someone drops out of the study, or you discover that someone got by the screener and doesn’t meet the criteria of the study. Recruiting is very much two steps forward, one step back.
Market research studies involve more than just focus groups, and many are designed with multiple methodologies, such as mobile ethnographies, in-depth interviews, and surveys. Given these different methodologies, a recruiter spends a lot of time interviewing potential participants to not only make sure s/he qualifies, but that this person can commit to the various components of the study that might be required. Depending on the nature of the study, this can go pretty smoothly, or it can be a real challenge. Any study that requires participation from executives or specialized industries requires a lot more time and sleuth work to even find such participants.
Market research recruitment agencies exist solely to find and manage study participants. Turning over recruitment to the specialists saves a lot of time and money, keeping your study on time and on budget.