The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

A chance to be heard

People are now less skeptical, more aware of how firms need and value their opinions for ongoing devleopment.

Over the last 10 years, spent as a qualitative research recruiter and interviewer, I’ve seen attitudes to our industry change. My brief has been diverse, sourcing and meeting respondents — consumer and business — from all walks of life, and assisting in projects ranging from listening to mums’ experiences with nappies to helping financial services companies gain an understanding of their audience. I’ve witnessed a definite shift in perception by potential respondents invited to focus groups during this time. In the early days, I was asked: “what’s the catch?”, “what are you trying to sell me?”, “will I be contacted afterwards and `sold to’?”.

These responses, however, are less common today. The public are now more aware of how companies need and value their opinions for ongoing development and, with research reporting a way of life in daily news, are more approachable and less skeptical.

The public do genuinely appreciate the opportunity of being invited to give their opinions, finding the experience thought provoking, stimulating and enjoyable! The level of hospitality offered at groups is an important factor when it comes to their view of being considered a valued individual in a project.

Once there, they become excited by the prospect that their opinions may turn into developments. On the occasions when I do hear complaints, it’s usually about being kept waiting too long, or because the discussion over-ran.

The buoyancy of B2B research, by contrast, has made business respondent recruitment more challenging over the years. This is because executives, once intrigued or supportive of business development, now find themselves being approached almost on a daily basis.

The challenge for us recruiters is — given such changes — to provide research companies with quality recruitment and willing respondents, transmitting a confidence to give them belief that the experience will be enlightening as well as fun!


Juliet Newton-Smith
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