Before any qualitative market research study can get underway, you first need to identify and recruit qualified participants. While it may seem straight forward, market research consultants give a lot of thought to the type of person who best represents the subject of the study, and will create screening guides to assist with the recruitment process. This isn’t a superfluous layer that adds billable hours to a project, it’s an essential component of recruitment that not only saves time and money, but also influences the outcome of the study.
Research consultants will work with the company commissioning the study to understand what they want to learn, and then determine what qualifications are important for the type of people to recruit to participate in the study. Much of the nitty-gritty work of market research takes place before the first participant is even recruited. Precisely defining what you are and aren’t looking for will make recruiting easier, regardless if this is outsourced to a nationwide recruitment agency or managed internally.
Let’s explore some examples of how a more granular understanding of the target demographic will determine who to recruit.
If you were conducting a medical research study that wanted to learn more about how patients go about getting prescriptions filled, you would want to create a screening guide that ensured that potential recruits have actively filled a prescription within the past 6 months, rather than keep this open ended. Without specific parameters, you could end up recruiting people who last filled a prescription 5 years ago, thus skewing the quality of data.
Even if the study has a more general focus, the same attention to recruiting is required. Let’s say you were concept testing a new kitchen appliance. If your screening guide doesn’t specify that you want only participants who have used a similar product, you might end up with a lot of participants who can’t offer any relevant feedback.
The above examples illustrate that recruiting often goes beyond basic filters such as geography, gender, income, or race. To get the most from your market research study, focus on the essential characteristics and core behaviors of the people who are the target users or customers.
Giving thought to such details upfront will make the downstream work of the study much easier and better.