When I first started recruiting five years ago, I found that the problem wasn’t finding people who coded with the criteria laid out by the client, but ensuring that they turned up.

Respondents were unwilling to sally forth, especially on cold, wet winter evenings after work, for the amount earmarked in clients’ budgets. Could you be enthusiastic about deodorising foot spray under those circumstances, or even bother showing up?

Incentives have risen, not just in line with the rising cost of living, but also in recognition of just with how savvy the general public are these days. When recruiting opinion-leaders or leading-edge respondents, clients must be aware of their understanding of how research, marketing and advertising works, and of how much is spent on it.

Clients wanting such insights need to know how to approach these respondent types and tailor their methodologies accordingly. Modern research techniques, particularly in focus groups, have gone some way to make respondents’ opinions feel valued not only though financial gain, but also through a more relaxed, informal approach to moderation.

Respondents seem now to be asked for their feelings towards brands and products, not just whether they would buy the product in question. They now even make their own ‘mood boards’ instead of being shown them — “It’s like being on Blue Peter and you get paid for it!”

Creative workshops have taken this methodology one step further. Respondents work directly with brand managers and product designers instead of being separated by a large spooky mirror.

Respondents often contact us the day after a group to register their enjoyment and ask us to pass on some more ideas that they didn’t get to share at the time with the client. They want more involvement — feeling that they were ‘helping’ as opposed to being pumped for information — and I don’t remember that happening five years ago.