Surveying Families: How to Recruit Parents & Kids for Market Research

parents with their kids on their backs

After working in recruitment for so many years, I’m no stranger to challenging audiences. 

There used to be one audience that would make my stomach drop: parents. And that's because parents and kids come with many factors that may dissuade them from participating. 

However, that was before I learned a few tips and tricks for surveying families, which I’ll outline below. 

Continue reading this blog to learn more about the challenges of recruiting parents and kids, and suggestions on what you should try instead. 

Recommended Reading: Ultimate Guide to Recruiting Participants for Qualitative Research

Intercepting? Understand They’re Pressed for Time 

Put yourself in their shoes: You’re walking through a busy center, your kid isn’t listening, and you just want to get them out of there and get home. 

Now you have a stranger approaching you with the opportunity to earn a few dollars by going into an office space and completing an interview. As a parent myself, no thanks

Instead, we recommend pre-recruiting this audience. This same advice goes for parent focus groups too.

By pre-recruiting and pre-scheduling, you end up allowing the parent to participate in the interview at a time where they can remain focused on the discussion.

If it is a pair interview, the parent can schedule a time when their child is most able to participate. For example, following a nap and snack. 

By pre-recruiting, the parent is able to prep their child (and themselves!) for the commitment. This often leads to more engaged market research participants and higher quality feedback. 

Consider virtual rather than in-person 

I used to pride myself on my timeliness, I even had a phrase I followed: “If you aren’t early, you’re late”…and then I had kids of my own. 

Getting yourself and your children ready and out of the house on time should be an Olympic sport. 

If you’re conducting in-person research with parents and kids, consider adding a buffer to your schedule.

A participant's child took 15 minutes to tie one shoe? No problem, they can still participate even if they’re running behind. 

Though overall, your best bet is still going to be conducting your research virtually, such as through online focus groups or online surveys with families.

There are a few reasons to consider virtual research for market research with families: 

  1. You won’t have to worry as much about participants being on time. It’s much easier to open up your laptop than prepping your kids for a drive across town. It also takes far less time to prep your child for a virtual call than to leave the house!

  2. Parents can avoid needing to find childcare if you are looking for only the parent to participate. This can be a major hurdle for parent participation. It drives up incentives and can be a barrier for many participants. In many cases, when mothers participate in qualitative research, they have distractions readily available for their children in their homes for them to participate with minimal distractions.

  3. Children are more comfortable in their homes. It might be self-explanatory - we’re almost always more comfortable in familiar settings - especially kids. Allowing children to participate where they are most comfortable will allow them to be less shy and provide better feedback. 

  4. You can recruit from a larger radius. When you are conducting research in one specific location, we are limited to recruiting only within driving distance of that location. Perhaps your research requires participants to be from one small radius. However, if you’ve ever read my blogs you should already know I always prefer to have a backup plan. It’s much easier to expand your radius for a virtual study than for an in-person one.

  5. Fewer travel barriers. In general, you want to avoid anything that can unnecessarily limit your audience. Even in the era of rideshares, traveling can be challenging for many potential participants. You could be losing out on high-quality participants due to those travel barriers. 

If conducting research with minors, recruit them through parents

The best way to recruit kids for market research is to pre-screen the parent or guardian for what they know about their child’s interests, behaviors, or any other qualifying criteria. 

Our qualitative recruiting company also recommends following up with the child to confirm the minor’s qualifications and ensure they are a good fit for research with an articulation screener. 

Not only are kids harder to engage, but they’re also harder to keep engaged. By involving their parent and building rapport with them, you have someone on your side to help get them through the project. 

Not to mention, in a world of scams and needing to keep such a close eye on what our children are doing on and offline, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by building credibility with the parent first. 

For more qualitative recruiting tips, watch our brief video below.

Conducting Research with Parents or Kids? Contact Us

Our firm has the resources and knowledge to reach and recruit families successfully. In the last month alone, we’ve recruited over 200 parents. 

With our hands-on recruitment process (pro tip - do not use automated market research recruitment), we have what it takes to not only recruit them - but ensure they follow through. 

Contact our team with the information below to learn more: 

  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


Ashley Reynolds

With nearly 10 years of experience in market research, Ashley has worked on countless quantitative and qualitative research studies. As a Fieldwork Manager at Drive Research, she’s involved in every stage of the project, especially recruitment.

Learn more about Ashley, here.

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