Deciding on your target audience is an important step when constructing a plan for your market research project.
In most instances, brands interested in conducting research have an idea of who they want to target in their future marketing campaigns or product and service offerings.
However, there are a few things to consider before settling on your ideal participant.
- How does your target audience impact feasibility?
- How do study requirements impact feasibility?
- What does a low feasibility project mean for your organization’s next steps?
Below, our qualitative recruiting firm outlines the different factors that impact feasibility, and what that means moving forward after the project has concluded.
As you read, keep in mind that each project is unique. None of these factors mean that a project cannot be completed - it may just require alternative methods or creative targeting to achieve the final goal!
What is an Incidence Rate?
The first thing to understand about audience feasibility is an incidence rate (IR).
An incidence rate is the percentage of the population who qualify based on your study specifications.
The lower the incidence rate, the more challenging your audience is to reach. As a result, any limitation on that audience makes the recruit more challenging.
For example, a 1% incidence rate means that out of every 100 people screened for the project, roughly 1 will qualify. Whereas, a 70% incidence rate would mean that 70 out of 100 people screened would qualify.
How is Incidence Rate Calculated?
Our market research firm conducts desk research and factors in results of past studies to understand a potential incidence rate.
Doing so helps our team understand what percentage of the population we will be able to reach that meets your qualifications.
For example, say a client comes to us on a project where the only requirement is that participants are over 65 years old.
Drive Research would utilize US Census data to come to the conclusion that the incidence rate would be around 12%.
From there, we’ll use our previous experience on past projects with a similar audience to decide on the best method to reach potential participants.
However, any additional qualifications beyond the age requirement, such as gender or income level, would further limit the available audience for the project.
Additional Factors in Calculating Study Feasibility
If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ve probably seen me say it before. Market research is fun!
Unfortunately, potential participants may not always see it that way. There are a few factors that could dissuade a qualified participant to take part in your project and therefore impacts overall feasibility.
Again, if you find that these factors resonate with your project needs it does not mean the market research is impossible to complete. Rather, there may be qualifying criteria you want to consider loosening to make the project more feasible.
#1 What is the topic of the research?
Frankly, some topics are more popular than others. New products in development are typically more exciting for consumers than discussing a topic such as trash removal or job functions.
Sensitive topics also tend to be a challenging recruit. Participants may not feel comfortable revealing personal information to an interviewer or during a focus group.
Having a “less exciting” or sensitive topic does not mean the study is not feasible. Our market research firm would just recommend pre-screening a larger audience to account for those who are uninterested in participating.
Additionally, certain topics may impact our ability to utilize all of our recruitment tools.
For example, projects surrounding a political issue (or any topic that can be debated) are not a great fit for targeted social media ads.
Unfortunately, advertising a project that can spark a heated debate could lead to negative implications for our own organization managing the recruit on our client’s behalf.
💡 Key Takeaway: While it may seem silly, the topic of market research can impact feasibility. People are more likely to sign up to test a new soda drink than they would be to participate in a banking focus group.
#2 Is there a large enough sample size?
The incidence rate is the first step for our firm to make a decision on feasibility.
From there, Drive Research accounts for additional factors that come with recruitment such drop-offs in:
- Clicks: People who click our targeted ad or email, but do not start the survey.
- Pre-screener: People who enter the survey screener, but do not complete it.
- Re-screener: People who sign up for the project through the online screener, but are unresponsive to our attempts to re-screen and schedule.
In qualitative research projects, our firm typically has a goal of 3-4x the number of qualified participants needed to reach the final total.
💡 Key Takeaway: Incidence rate does not dictate how many people will actually participate. For instance, a 60% incidence rate does not mean that 60 out of 100 people will actually sign up and complete the project.
#3 Is the audience available to be reached?
Our market research firm utilizes multiple platforms to source research participants:
- Our own in-house panel
- Third-party panels with trusted partners
- Targeted ad campaigns on social media platforms
- Grassroots efforts
The platform we use largely depends on the target audience, and each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses.
In terms of social media, LinkedIn is the better fit for B2B (business to business) projects. Facebook is the better platform to target certain consumers.
💡 Key Takeaway: Certain requirements may place limitations on our ability to reach participants. For example, if the recruit requires that participants do not have a social media account (less than 30% of the population, if you were wondering), we would be unable to use targeted social media ads to reach participants.
#4 How will the research be conducted?
If conducting qualitative research such as focus groups or in-depth interviews, an important decision to make is whether they will be completed in-person or virtually.
While both have their benefits depending on your audience, they also have their limitations.
Limitations of in-person market research include:
- Adequate transportation
- Accounting for drive-time to and from the interview location
- Further restricting a recruit radius to surrounding areas of the interview location
- Skepticism of the interview location
- Concerns on social gatherings due to COVID-19
If a market research company does not have a presence in the area, companies sometimes utilize locations such as hotel conference spaces.
Research participants may be skeptical of these locations, especially if they are new to market research.
Limitations of remote market research include:
- Having the equipment necessary to participate such as a microphone, webcam, and working desktop/laptop computer
- Having a private, quiet place with no distractions to freely share their thoughts
- An understanding of technology to be able to log in to a virtual discussion on an online platform
💡 Key Takeaway: Interested in learning more about the pros and cons of in-person market research vs. remote market research? Read our blog post where we go more in-detail of the two approaches: Traditional Focus Groups or Online Focus Groups: The Choice is Yours.
#5 If the research is remote, how accessible is the platform?
If the discussion will take place virtually, you will also need to decide the platform for your project.
Obscure or unpopular platforms can make a recruit less feasible; if a participant’s first exposure to a platform is seeing negative reviews online, they may be more skeptical of the research.
Another thing to consider when deciding on a platform is functionality. “Buggy” or hard-to-navigate platforms can be frustrating for participants.
A frustrating experience can cause a high drop-out rate for the project.
Finally, another thing to consider is accessibility:
- Is the platform easily accessible for participants?
- Is account registration required for respondents to participate?
- How much site navigation is required for participants to complete the required task(s)?
💡 Key Takeaway: Ultimately, the easier you make your project to participate in, the more likely participants are to follow through.
#6 What is the overall time commitment for the participant and what is the incentive?
Each project is unique, and your project may require pre-interview tasks for the participant.
Pre-interview tasks should follow the same guidelines above as the interview methods. The process to complete them should be relatively easy and straightforward.
They can also be useful to serve as another point in the confirmation process. From our experience, if a participant completes the task, they are more likely to follow through for the remainder of the project.
As great as a research tool these tasks are, remember that they take additional time for the participant.
While it is important that the participant is interested in the topic of the research, we also recommend a fair incentive as a thank you for their time and feedback.
💡 Key Takeaway: The overall time commitment of the project should be a direct correlation to the incentive. Expecting participants to spend an extended period of time on the project but offering a low incentive may cause those who are qualified to not participate.
This leads me to my next point…
#7 Is the incentive offered enticing to the audience?
When deciding on an incentive, consider the target audience.
Here are a few factors that would require a higher incentive:
- If the project requires a more challenging audience such as high-level executives or high networth individuals
- If the project has a target audience that is currently being targeted among a wide range of projects.
- If the project is hosted during business hours where participants would be required to leave work.
💡 Key Takeaway: Unfortunately, the harder to reach participants will require higher rewards. They see their free time as very valuable and therefore need more incentivisation to spend it participating in a research project.
#8 How are you paying participants?
There are many ways to pay a participant, but some may make the project more challenging than others.
For example, incentives such as brand points or product-specific gift cards are not recommended for many consumer projects.
- Participants may find during the research that they would not be interested in the product
- Offering an incentive related to the research may bias feedback.
Our firm frequently utilizes virtual Amazon gift cards as the provided incentive for participants.
The benefit of this is that we can send them within 24 hours of completion, and Amazon provides a wide variety of products participants can choose.
They also encourage them to complete the project even if they are not enjoying a product or product concept.
💡 Key Takeaway: Give away incentives that can be used universally. If a potential candidate is not interested in receiving the reward, they will likely not move forward with participating in the research study.
#9 What is the project timeline?
While other market research companies may institute the first-come-first-serve process to recruiting, Drive Research implements an opposite approach.
We find that a thorough approach to recruitment leads to a higher-quality participant and a lower drop-off rate than other firms.
The multiple checkpoints in each qualitative recruit include:
- Programming a pre-screener to gather profiles of each qualified participant
- Deploying the pre-screener and modifying targeting to reach the right contacts
- Reviewing the pool of pre-qualified participants and selecting the “best of the best”
- A re-screening phone call to confirm core qualifications and discuss next steps
- A confirmation email with a required “yes” response to ensure receipt
- Calendar invites, reminder phone calls, and texts all through a single point of contact
💡 Key Takeaway: Finding the best participants for each project takes time. We typically request at least two to three weeks for each qualitative recruitment project. However, the more difficult the project, the longer it will take to find quality participants. A rushed recruit often means a sacrifice in a quality check or two along the way.
#10 When will the market research take place?
Another factor in the feasibility of qualitative market research projects is moderator availability.
This is important for audiences such as B2B (business-to-business) recruits. When targeting those in specific job functions, we are already operating under the understanding that they likely hold full-time jobs.
Therefore, it is best practice to offer a wide range of interviewing times including after-hours and weekends. The more flexibility we are able to provide in interviewing hours, the less we run into scheduling issues with participants.
💡 Key Takeaway: A recruit is a collaborative process between the recruiter, moderator, and participant. Flexibility should be considered for all three. Ultimately, participants are taking time out of their day to provide us with their feedback, so it is important to be respectful of that and as flexible with availability as possible.
#11 Does the recruitment criteria make sense?
When thinking of an ideal audience, we can sometimes “miss the forest for the trees.”
By this I mean, when you’re heavily involved in a research project, it can be a challenge to take a step back and take a look with fresh eyes.
Try to keep in mind how one qualification may impact another.
For example, if you are looking for people who use manual processes in their job functions, those at large organizations are likely not a good fit - they probably have an automated, cost efficient process.
If you’re looking for people who utilize certain services or tasks, think about the type of consumer that would use it. Are you disqualifying them elsewhere at less important criteria?
It sounds contradictory after explaining how we make assumptions on incidence rate and targeting, but each project is a unique learning process and there are almost always modifications to targeting along the way.
💡 Key Takeaway: When thinking about qualifications or screening criteria for your project, it is important to keep in mind which is most important. Try not to rely too heavily on assumptions of who you think would use a product or service and disqualify those who don’t fit the assumed criteria, as this could cause you to lose out on relevant feedback.
So, what’s the big picture?
It’s important to note that blanket statements don’t work well in research. Each project has its challenges, and our job is to exhaust all options and work to overcome them.
None of the above factors mean that a market research recruitment firm can’t complete your project - they may just need additional flexibility or out-of-the-box thinking to get there!
While a challenging recruit may feel like a failure, there are still additional insights outside of the original scope of research:
- The audience your organization has in mind is not interested in the product or service being offered
- The ideal audience that exists in such low numbers marketing or advertising campaigns will not have a large success
- Marketing or advertising campaigns should be modified to reach a suitable audience size
- Modifications to the target audience that may be more suitable for future campaigns or research projects
- Our own internal learnings about audience reach, size, targeting, and so on.
By utilizing a pre-screening questionnaire, Drive Research is able to provide suggestions on how feasibility can be improved.
When making suggestions on improving feasibility, our full-service market research company will take study objectives into account.
While providing flexibility to improve feasibility means not moving forward with your ideal audience, this does not mean the data will not be useful.
Our team can still take steps to ensure that a recruit with flexible criteria can still provide relevant insights.
One step we can take is adding an additional question to the pre-screener questionnaire.
When given flexibility in one area, we can still check on core-qualification criteria to ensure feedback received will be relevant to the study objectives.
Interested in learning more about our services? Contact our team today.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
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.