nationwide qualitative market research firm, and instead try and manage the study internally. On numerous occasions, we’ve been asked how many additional participants should be recruited for a study. While each study is different, depending on the research methodology used, there is a commonality that all market research shares: you will always need a buffer when it comes to recruiting.
We’ve had some pushback to this advice, as it can increase the costs of the project, but it’s rare to have a study where all the recruits required are able to see his/her commitment through. It’s much easier to replace a few study participants if you have a few extras ‘waiting in the wings.’
How many Extra Recruits do I need for Focus Groups?
Most focus groups are small to begin with. The ideal number for focus groups is between 6-7 participants. If fewer than this number show up for the focus group, the group dynamics change and the moderator has a more challenging time soliciting the best information from each participant.
It’s best to be prepared and have up to two additional people recruited for the study.
Pro tip: if all the original recruits show up for the focus group, you still want to compensate the extras by paying them half the amount you’ll pay the original group. When people make the time and effort to show up, even if they aren’t needed when the time comes, it’s courteous to provide some compensation.
How many Extra Recruits do I need for In-Depth Interviews?
Managing in-depth interviews is different than focus groups, in that they are usually scheduled over the course of one to two weeks. If your study only requires 10 in-depth interviews, we still recommend making contact with at least two different recruits who are willing and available to participate during the study window. If these identified participants aren’t needed to complete the study, usually no compensation is provided, as the moderator hasn’t taken up his/her time beyond identifying his/her availability for the study.
How many Extra Recruits do I need for Surveys?
Surveys are similar to in-depth interviews in that you aren’t requiring a participant to show up to a designated place at a specific time. You can manage recruitment for surveys (a more common quantitative methodology) the same as you would for in-depth interviews, the main difference being that surveys are usually administered to a much larger audience, and it’s likely you’ll need to identify up to 5% more people than required for the survey.
You will save your organization a lot of time and money by hiring a nationwide recruitment agency to help manage recruiting. A lot of management is involved with recruiting, no matter what the size of the study!