Market Research – Drop Past Participation Restrictions, Save Money

Recruiting respondents for qualitative market research projects has changed a lot in the past 20 years. One of the most profound changes is the increase in the number of potential respondents who are either familiar with qualitative market research or who have participated in research in the past.Our findings indicate that roughly 75 percent of people who respond to first-time telephone or email invitations (not including Craigslist or similar ads) have had previous experience with qualitative research in one form or another. And that’s good for both researchers and respondent recruiters. The more people who respond favorably to market research invitations, the better the chances of finding the respondents you need. What’s more, higher cooperation rates reduce recruiting fees.But what about past participation restrictions?The initial idea behind these types of restrictions was noble: No one wants cheaters muddying up their research, or respondents who participate solely for the money. But in practice, disqualifying respondents because of recent or frequent participation can raise recruiting costs while doing little to purge dishonest respondents. Unrealistic past participation restrictions can also make it virtually impossible to complete hard-to-recruit assignments. The result is often expensive recruiting that goes over budget, coupled with unplanned relaxations to qualifying criteria.Imposing past participation restrictions on all projects may have been practical 20 years ago — before consumers were flooded with invitations to take part in market research studies. But just because past participation restrictions remain “standard industry practice” doesn’t mean they actually help your research in today’s world. Yes, past participation restrictions certainly have their place — but not when recruiting low-incidence studies, projects with quick turnarounds, or when you’re trying to save money.

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