What is Incidence Rate or IR in Market Research?

Outside of the length of the survey, nothing impacts cost more than the incidence rate (IR) in market research. This article will give you a better understanding of the incidence rate in market research detailing exactly how low and high IRs can impact the feasibility and cost of your market research study.

what is incidence rate?

What is the incidence rate (IR) in market research?

The incidence rate is defined as the number of respondents from a sample pool that will qualify for your study. It is often synonymous with the qualification rate in market research.

Essentially, if you have 100 random people who are willing to participate in your survey, and only 3 actually qualify based on your screening criteria, your incidence rate would be 3%.

A general population survey where everyone in your sample pool qualifies generates an IR of 100%. This is why IR does not apply to customer or client surveys. When you send an email survey to all of your customers, the inherently all qualify for your study already.

However, if you want to screen and qualify only those who have ordered from your restaurant in the past 3 months, it would drop your IR below 100%.

For example, if your market research survey is looking to target females only, your incidence rate will immediately drop from 100% to 50%. If you are looking to target females with children under the age of 18, your incidence rate will drop even further to less than 20%.


How are incidence rates (IRs) used in market research?

Online panel companies use incidence rates to estimate how difficult the audience will be to reach and how many respondents will qualify for the study. Surveys with low incidence rates result in additional work to gather completed surveys, additional costs per completed survey, and a higher overall project expense. This is driven by the difficulty in collecting a large number of completes from a laser-targeted audience.

In many cases, if your study expects to produce an IR of less than 5%, many panel companies view the study as too risky and will decline to bid.

A low IR can be very telling. If you are targeting an audience with an IR below 5% it could make your market research not feasible. Considering loosening your criteria to broaden your audience, increase feasibility, and lower costs.

Expect to pay more for a survey conducted with a highly specific audience such as B2B decision-makers. The B2B pools for most online panel companies are generally smaller than B2C. Targeting specific titles or roles can cause your incidence rate to drop significantly. 


How can I increase the IR in market research?

Here are several ways to increase IR in market research:

  • Better targeting. If you only want to survey those under the age of 30 and you have DOB in your database file, send your invites to those born after a certain year. Not only is this a better experience for your customers to avoid disqualifications, but it increases your IR for the survey.
  • Loosen screening criteria. Try not to be as strict with your criteria. If you want to survey those who shop at your store at least once a week, can this be stretched to once every 2 weeks? Once a month? This will increase the number of people who qualify.
  • Be flexible with quotas. If you are setting up quotas to ensure representation from several audiences, consider loosening those to allow for oversampling.

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  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Drive Research is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY.

Our market research services in Upstate NY include feasibility studiesintercept surveysphone surveys, and online surveys.

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