The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Respondents and the Crunch

There are always two sides to a coin. This issue examines how the current crisis has impacted on respondents and recruiters

Before the Credit Crunch, all types of recruiters (traditional and database) had to spend serious resources seeking members of the public to take part in market research. It was often difficult, stressful and unpredictable. Part of their job was to convince the potential respondent that market research was not selling or direct marketing, that there was no catch and that a client really did want to hear his/her opinion. And then, even with the incentive, would the respondent show up?

The onset of the Credit Crunch has rapidly changed all this. Magazines, ezines, websites, newspaper, radio and television programmes are telling people alternative ways to make money. One of those ways is to take part in market research. The media are explaining the purpose and benefits of participating in research. Suddenly, millions of people all across the UK get what recruiters have been trying to tell them for years!

This media intervention has led to a rapid and dramatic increase in the number of people who are approaching recruiters to get on their databases. This is causing increased database management costs for field companies. In less than 48 hours, over 3,500 new people registered to become members of our database alone … and the deluge continues. All these people understand what market research is and want to take part, but their expectations require managing.

Recruiters have better choice than ever before, resulting in extremely high quality respondents with few drop outs or no shows. These days people really need that incentive money. The scene is set for the industry to conduct the highest quality market research yet … BUT … client budgets are drying up and they are reining in their market research spending. There are fewer projects, and they're smaller and more strategic than before. "Bigger" decisions have to be made based on fewer groups or depths and exact recruitment is more critical than ever.

During the Credit Crunch people latch on fast to any opportunity for a bit of extra cash. This is where the expectations have to be managed. Recruiters feel that it is vital to get accurate messages out about how often people can take part and how tough the screening is for each project.

With fewer projects and the prospect of only taking part a maximum of once every six months (if being lucky enough to have been chosen from the hundreds of applicants that fit the screening criteria), will the public's interest wane? Will willing participants ebb away, jeopardising the quality of future research?

Or, will the public's interest be captured by lots of exciting projects that they can tell their friends about? Will clients seize this opportunity to conduct the highest quality market research into the future using this vast untapped number of willing participants?

 

Coleen Sadler
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2009