There is no doubt that market research recruitment is key when it comes to approaching a new research project. But what factors, criteria and steps should we take into account when selecting participants? What strategies are the most appropriate to succeed in qualitative recruitment?

At Calma we know that recruitment is the basis of a successful market study. Therefore, today we would like to review some points, aspects and necessary steps when it comes to recruiting participants. Because let’s not kid ourselves: for many companies and organizations, recruiting participants for market research remains a major challenge.

Finding the participants, the ideal target for a specific market study, is not so easy, nor is it easy to opt for only one type, method or channel of recruitment. Experience tells us that, on many occasions, always using the same participant recruitment channels leads to diminishing results, that is, we “burn” our databases by using them over and over again.

Therefore, it is essential to work on the constant recruitment of new participants, who fit in with a specific study, product/service, sector, brand… And this task is not easy either: we have to locate new participants that fit the target to which the study is addressed, we have to interview them and carry out a screening to be sure that they are the right ones, we have to encourage them in the right way for a greater motivation and involvement in the study we are going to carry out, etc.

Therefore, this is a long and complex process, and not all companies can carry it out individually, so the services of companies specialized in recruiting participants for market research studies, such as Calma, are usually requested.

What does the recruitment process consist of?

In this first step, we can distinguish 4 points:

1.- Targeting: reaching the right audience to achieve the proposed objectives.
2.- Screening: selection of participants in a reliable and impartial way.
3.- Incentives: to offer incentives that encourage the participation of the right audience.
4.- Participant follow-up: for long-term participant collaboration

How should we approach each of these in order for our market research to get the best results? Let’s analyze each of these 4 points in more detail.

63% of user researchers say they start recruiting 1 week or more before the study (according to The State of User Research 2021 Report).

1.- Targeting

Let’s start at the beginning: what do we mean by segmentation? There are several criteria that are taken into account when segmenting:

– Demographics: age, gender, education, income, marital status, etc.
– Geographic: country, city, region, etc.
– Psychographic: activities, hobbies, interests and opinions.
– Behavioral: those behaviors that are commonplace (e.g., “regularly commute by car” or “visit their social media profiles daily”).

The basis of successful recruitment is to have a well-defined target audience, our target To do this, it is necessary to ask ourselves: Who is my product/service aimed at? What is the target audience I am going to focus on? Without this prior step, it will not be possible to ensure the quality and suitability of the participants we are recruiting for the market research.

Something we must avoid is falling into the temptation of thinking that any profile can be considered as our target audience or potential customer. If we fall into this trap, we will be wasting our time. It is not possible to cover such a wide target, it is necessary to narrow it down and define it in detail.

So, how do we know who our target audience is? How do we find them? We establish several steps:

1.- The first thing is to know what is the purpose of the study to be carried out, what is it that you want to find out with it.
2.- Once we are clear, the next step would be to work “backwards” to find the audience/profile that could most easily provide us with that information.
3.- It is time to segment, not only taking into account demographic and geographic data, but also psychographic criteria and behavior.

In this way, we will define our target audience, such as:

– Women between 30 to 50 years old, living in Spain, and commuting to work by car on a daily basis.
– Unemployed and recently graduated men and women between 25-30 years old, living in big cities in Spain…

And one more tip: in addition to knowing what we are looking for, we also need to know the opposite, which profile is the one we are not looking for. All this will help us to lay the foundations for a good recruitment, for a really solid selection process of participants for our market study.

2.- Screening

We have already well defined the target of our study. Now it is time to prepare the survey or questionnaire to evaluate and qualify the respondents. Once we have their answers, we can draw up a list of the most reliable participants who can best fit in with our market research.

What guidelines can we follow for good participant recruitment?

Do not give too much information. When drawing up a form or survey to recruit participants, it is important not to give them too much information at the outset so as not to condition their responses.

For good recruitment, avoid giving the name of the company or product, revealing the objective of the study or asking leading questions. The fewer ‘clues’ we give, the better.

Avoid ‘professionals’. Another good tip is to try to identify the usual participants in this type of study, who are only interested in the incentive.

Search for expressive people. How? By asking questions known as ‘articulation’ questions: more open-ended and descriptive questions, which will help us to find out the communication skills of the participant. Users who only answer these open-ended questions with a yes or no, or a single word, may not be useful to us.

It is important to be brief. Last but not least, we must not forget that selection surveys should be short and simple. How long should our questionnaire or survey be? That will depend on each specific case, but as a general rule we can propose a questionnaire that does not exceed 10 questions.

This applies to questionnaires or surveys for recruiting new participants, but we can also conduct our market research using a survey panel, i.e. another method of recruiting people who have self-selected to participate in market research in exchange for an incentive. We will discuss and go deeper into these survey panels in future posts.

3.- Incentives

Undoubtedly, an incentive is a good lure when looking for the right participants for a study or market research. Monetary incentives will improve the response rate, there is no doubt about it. At the same time, they will also help keep participants engaged and responsive during the research study.

But how much should you offer when recruiting participants for your study? Are there guidelines? Again, the incentive will depend on each individual case and the manner in which the recruitment survey or questionnaire is conducted. For example, a study carried out in person and which requires the respondent to travel, will possibly require a greater incentive than those carried out over the Internet or by telephone.

The qualifications of the participants must also be taken into account. If we are looking for a very specific and academically or professionally qualified target, it is logical to think that the incentive required will also be higher.

On the other hand, we must not forget the time factor: the greater the time commitment, the greater the incentive.


4.- Follow-up

It is important not to burn out our databases. If we go to the same initial audience over and over again for different research studies, we will get what is called diminishing results. Users who have already done studies will end up getting tired and our research will be based on interviewing the same people with the same points of view, so the results will not be very reliable?

How to avoid this problem? We need to rely on professional recruiters who can provide us with large databases of users, updated and segmented in such a way as to guarantee that we will achieve our objectives.

At Calma we have more than 25 years of experience in Qualitative Research in Madrid and Barcelona, offering our clients the Recruitment of participants for market studies. We have our own database and work with all sectors, especially with: Consumer, B2B, Medical /Pharma, Technological (usability test), etc.

Are you looking for a reliable company that can take care of your market research recruitment? Contact Calma and we will advise you without obligation.




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