Our Top Tips for Choosing Study Respondents

Market research is a method of research used by organizations to understand their customers, users and prospective audiences, thereby leading to greater market understanding. As such, it requires actual input from real people. Finding participants that can wax poetic about their favorite, or most hated, products is quite easy. However, making sure that people, and their potential input, are the best for your research project, is more challenging. Misinterpretations, canned answers, and opinions or beliefs that contradict behavior can be quite common.

While it’s not necessarily the end of the world if 1-2 participants mislead a study consisting of several hundred or thousand, those pesky respondents can have a profound effect on smaller, more interpersonal projects.

Making the most of participants is two-pronged. First, researchers should fine-tune their recruiting practices. From there, finding the right participants is vastly simplified, though there are standards no organizer should ignore. Read on for specifics into both, as well how they interact.

Recruiting Practices

The initial stage of organizing a study, finding the right volunteers is among the most important elements of research. A product’s direction or ad’s message can hinge on the response. Finding valuable participants is contingent on a few common sense rules, like recruit within the correct demographic and give them a primer before beginning. That mentioned, there are also a few areas to scrutinize


Plenty of customers enjoy offering feedback, but attending a formal, scheduled study requires a bigger carrot than mere fandom. Money is often incentive enough, but is hardly the only path researchers have to take. Making a charitable donation in the respondent’s name, for instance, may entice voices that would otherwise decline. Other ideas include free merchandise, offering a results summary, paid traveling, or other bonuses. Such alternatives are particularly useful if enticing professional respondents, as many corporations include policies forbidding monetary incentives from volunteer work.  


Finding participants within the correct demography is simple as a questionnaire or segmentation of respondents. Where to place said questionnaires, however, can be tricky. Always consider rarity too, as finding the right volunteers may require far more time or money than researchers anticipate. Similarly, follow up on specifics: some prospects uplay their appreciation for popular brands, for instance, while others may downplay their enthusiasm. Regardless, always source volunteers whose behavior best matches their screener answers.  

Client Lists

One of the first places that most researchers look into, client lists offer solid direction on where to first look for respondents. No matter how many fit within the study’s parameters, however, always prioritize the study itself. Oftentimes pertinent if looking into new markets, finding voices unfamiliar with the product or brand is more valuable than those impressed enough to offer their contact info to the client.  

Screener Time

Simple screening questions often yield the best results. While tempting to include detail, remember that those filling out the form can become bored, frustrated, or simply zone out. More emphatically, always make sure that the questions are absolutely vital for the screening. The fewer questions allowed, the more likely the screener will stay direct and pertinent.    


Much like prep, screening also deserves close attention. Keeping within the study’s demographic framework is always a good idea, but some standards exist outside even that. Such benchmarks, luckily, are far simpler than organizing the screener.   


Availability of “fresh” respondents, those who have never participated in a qualitative study, can be small or even nonexistent. All depends on the target demographic. Always remember, however, that a participant’s inexperience with qualitative assessments is a good thing. While maybe counterintuitive, participants who are too used to interviews or discussions may can their answers, if not on purpose than by accident. Fresh respondents, meanwhile, always offer fresh answers.

On-demand Respondent Sourcing: Essential for Today’s Market

No matter how respondents are sourced, or where, speed matters as much as veracity. Today’s market expectations are changing at perpetually faster rates, and will continue to do so. Product and content creation must shift with these new expectations, necessitating shorter and shorter turnarounds. Research, likewise, must catch up with these shorter and shorter product cycles. See how our services make finding vetted respondents both convenient and fast in little as 48 hours.

To learn more about Discuss global recruitment, click here

Sign Up for our Newsletter