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New Times – Challenges for Recruiting Respondents

Posted on March 1, 2024 by brittany

Over the years there have been challenges in recruiting, but in recent years there seems to be even more challenges. When COVID hit, the industry mostly transitioned to virtual sessions and people’s lives became slower which meant more time to participate as a respondent. Fast forward four years later and everyone seems to be back to overscheduling themselves. This results in people who might qualify for a study, but don’t have the time to participate. This isn’t the only challenge we face when recruiting respondents, but it is a factor.

RIVA has seen a decline in traditional facilities over the past several years. It used to be you could get bids from multiple facilities and if one didn’t feel confident in recruiting who is needed you could go with another facility. These days, this isn’t the case. You might have to move markets because a facility can’t recruit, or a third-party recruiter needs to be brought in to support the facility in recruiting efforts. If the facility has a relationship with a third-party recruiter, that is great – but if they don’t, it means you need to locate one and make sure both are willing to work together. It also means you have one more thing to manage.

Something else we have seen at RIVA is the incidence rate (essentially how easy or hard is it to find the respondents. The higher the rate, the easier to recruit and the lower the rate the harder to recruit) of people the client is looking to speak with is low. Lower incidence results in higher recruiting costs. Along with lower incidence rates, the specs respondents need to fit have changed drastically over the years. Respondents need to do more and more to qualify for a study. Sometimes it means we have to relax certain quotas, conduct less groups in a market, or conduct smaller groups in a market. If the sessions can be conducted online, this becomes less of an issue due to the ability to recruit from more than one location.

It has come to our attention recently that some facilities are having respondents fill out pre-screeners online. If respondents don’t qualify, they fall out. Then if things change, they may get a call from the facility to ask follow-up questions, but by the time they return the call the session is filled. For some respondents it seems as if it’s not worth the upfront work because they don’t get selected for the study even though they have filled out multiple pre-screener questions.   

Lastly, we have come across a company online that teaches people how to get around and “qualify” for research sessions.  It teaches people how to answer questions such as past participation, marriage status, income, etc. Telling people not to mention they have been in a research session in the past 6 months, they make more money than they might, or they are married when they really aren’t married. It’s unethical and wrong on so many levels. What this has done is to introduce another obstacle to ensure the respondents that are being recruited are your client’s consumers. 

Recruiting is always something we have had to stay on top of so having a dedicated person monitor the grids and compare each question/response to the screener has been a life saver. We have received grids that are incomplete and have wrong information filled in. Ultimately, it’s our job to make sure the people recruited are the correct people per the client’s qualifications. It’s important to make sure the facility you are working with is a partner to your project and not just a vendor. Relationships are critical to your success.

Written by: Amber Tedesco, CEO RIVA Market Research & Training Institute