How Much Does Recruitment for Qualitative Research Cost?

calculator measuring costs

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common questions our qualitative recruitment firm receives is, “How much does recruitment for qualitative research cost?”

This question is not always answered with one finite cost because in all reality, market research is not a one price fits all scenario.

Drive Research works with a variety of organizations to recruit their most hard-to-find target participants, cost-effectively. However, the cost of doing so differs from project to project.

To appropriately answer the question, “How much is this going to cost me?” Drive Research will often first ask a few follow-up questions:

  • What is the target audience you are hoping to recruit?
  • Do you have quotas among the target audience?
  • How quickly do you need the participants recruited?
  • What is required from participants?

By offering more insight into your project specification, our team will be able to provide a clear estimate when recruiting for qualitative research. Don’t have all the answers? Allow us to help.

This blog post will provide a better understanding of what factors increase or decrease the cost of recruitment in qualitative research.

We also have some great saving tips if your budget is tight and you need to reduce the costs associated with hiring a third-party recruitment firm.

What is the target audience you are hoping to recruit?

Qualitative recruitment is all about finding exactly who you want to talk to and asking for their honest feedback. However, it becomes more challenging (and costly) to find these participants if the target audience is super niche or specific.

For example, it would take less time to recruit for focus groups when looking for more generalized criteria such as...

  • People who live in New York City and are between the ages of 24-55
  • Females who live in the United States and are owners of iPhones
  • Moms of children under 18 living in the household

These less specific audiences are easier to recruit for than say, 22-year-old males who are lefthanded and have green eyes.

While an experienced market research company is able to find many types of unique audiences, the more specific your criteria is, the more expensive the project becomes.

Another factor to consider is the type of audience – whether it is B2B or B2C. B2B audiences are almost always more expensive because they are less willing to participate in market research without higher incentives.

💡 The Key Takeaway: The feasibility of your market research participants will impact costs. Consider loosening your criteria if you have a tighter budget.

Do you have quotas among the target audience?

Another factor impacting the cost of qualitative recruitment is if there are quotas that need to be met within your target audience.

As we discussed earlier, just like niche audiences can drive up the cost of recruitment for qualitative research, so can having multiple quotas within one audience.

There is a wide range of possible quotas and this often is based on the objective of the study.

For instance, a quota may be regarding the participants' following characteristics:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Geography
  • Ethnicity 

Additionally, our qualitative recruitment firm has seen more specific quotas regarding a person’s cell phone provider, a brand of car, and what college a person has attended.

For example, say you have a general national target audience that you are hoping to recruit for a qualitative study. However, among this general audience, you have multiple quotas that you’d like to be met.

Perhaps you are looking to conduct market research with pet owners from across the country.

Though among this national audience are many requested quotas such as:

  • There must be an even split of males and females
  • There must be 15 dog owners and 10 cat owners
  • There must be an even split of participants living in the South, Southwest, North, and Northeast
  • Three of the participants must be Veterans
  • Five of the participants must have a child under the age of 15
  • Seven of the participants must be divorced

While the qualitative recruitment firm is recruiting from a national audience, there are many quotas they must meet. This means more time, effort, and costs associated to meet these goals.

Even if there is one quota that is a needle in a haystack, that one person can raise the cost of recruitment for market research.

💡 The Key Takeaway: The more specific quotas you have in place, the longer it will take to recruit participants for qualitative research. This will increase costs due to increased project management times.

How quickly do you need the participants recruited?

In general, our qualitative recruitment firm takes about two to three weeks to complete a qualitative recruitment project.

With that being said, recruiting for a qualitative recruitment study can be done in one week or less. With an expedited timeline, comes a higher price tag for the project.

Think of it as online shopping and shipping fees. If you are buying something online and you need it the next day, you will have to pay extra for overnight shipping in order to get your package on time.

If you would like free shipping, then you’ll wait the anticipated few weeks to receive your item.

If you are looking for a quick turn-around for your qualitative recruitment project, it can be done. However, it requires a reprioritization in workload and a shift in priorities from other market research studies being conducted by the qualitative recruitment company.

If going against the recommended two to three-week timeline, this will likely add to the research proposal sent by the third party.

💡 The Key Takeaway: When choosing a qualitative recruiting firm, ask how long it will take to find participants. In many cases, it will take 2 to 3 weeks, but if you need something faster, they will likely be able to make it happen -- it just will cost you.

Recommended Reading: 3 Reasons to Not Use Automated Market Research Recruitment

What is required from participants?

Lastly, what is the type of qualitative research method that needs participant recruitment?

Popular qualitative research studies include

For example, it would take more time for a qualitative recruitment agency to find participants to join a multi-staged research study.

First, they must participate in an in-depth phone interview, then complete a week-long mobile diary, and lastly must participate in a two-hour focus group discussion.

Also, in order to find the most qualified participants in a cost-effective way it is important to keep their schedules in mind.

This means avoiding conducting interviews or focus groups during usual business hours.

It will be more difficult for someone to get away from work in the middle of the day to join an in-person focus group or in-depth interview. Participants would much rather sign up for research that fits their schedules such as meeting for a time after work or during their lunch hour.

💡 The Key Takeaway: The easier and less of an inconvenience the study is for the participant, the easier and less costly they are to recruit.

Reducing the Cost of a Qualitative Recruitment Firm

1. Relaxing Quotas

When recruiting for qualitative research, it is important to not treat this process like it’s a mathematic equation.

If the qualitative recruitment firm is struggling to meet your exact quotas, relax the strict criteria you might be setting. Ask about alternative audiences or revise the exact number you need per quota.

2. Paying Higher Rewards

Say, what? That’s right – provide a higher incentive or reward for qualitative research participants to save money on the project. Often times clients think just the opposite. If a quote for qualitative recruitment is too high, the first thing to be removed or reduced should not be the incentive.

By reducing the reward amount the harder it becomes to encourage participation and in turn increases the cost to recruit for qualitative research.

More people would sign up to participate in a focus group for $100 but maybe not for $75. In an ironic way, businesses looking to conduct qualitative research can reduce recruitment costs by offering a higher reward per participant because there is more interest there.

Read more in our blog post, offering a higher reward can equal lower market research costs.

3. Ample Time to Recruit

Our recruitment firm for qualitative and quantitative research understands projects can fall off and on your radar in a matter of days.

The need to conduct qualitative research can one day be a top priority, and the next it may low hanging fruit – until it becomes a high-priority project again and needs to be completed as soon as possible.

If a situation like this is to arise, Drive Research can certainly accommodate that.

However, for the sake of saving money and not blowing budget dollars, the more time and notice you provide a qualitative recruitment firm, the better.

On average, a recruitment project takes 2 to 3 weeks to complete. If this timeline is sufficient for your team, then the cost of your recruitment study will not be impacted dramatically.

Recommended Reading: 7 Mistakes Market Research Recruiters Make (& How to Avoid Them)

Contact Our Qualitative Recruiting Company

Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our qualitative recruiting company works with clients all over the country to find high-quality participants for projects.

Interested in learning more about our recruitment for qualitative research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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