Archive for November, 2016



Show Me the Money! Four Factors That Impact Qualitative Research Incentives

Posted on: November 22nd, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

How much should we pay respondents to participate in a qualitative research study?    Answering that question is more of an art than a science.  Incentives provide both motivation for respondents to follow through on their commitment to the research, as well as compensation for their time and effort.moneyvote

While there is a basic formula that recruiters use to estimate respondent incentives, there are four key considerations that influence the recommended amount:

  1. The “time and inconvenience” factor:  Is it a 15-minute telephone interview?  A two-hour focus group at a facility that is a 20-minute drive away?   A series of activities over an extended period?
  2. The difficulty of the recruit:  Does virtually anyone qualify?  Or are we looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack?
  3. The time of day.  Are you asking stay-at-home parents with school aged children to participate in research at 3 PM?    Are you asking full-time professionals to participate in research during business hours?
  4. The market where the research is going to be conducted:  Is the research being conducted in coastal urban markets or in small Midwestern towns or rural markets?

The time and inconvenience factor assumes there is a basic cost to get people “out the door,” whether that involves logging onto a website, dialing into a webcam group or interview, or driving to a facility.  After that the other consideration is whether we are asking for a one-time commitment, or a commitment over time.    A one-time commitment might involve visiting a store to complete a diary exercise; or, driving to a focus group facility for a 90-minute focus group.   A commitment over time might involve asking a respondent to shop and prepare a specific food item, or to keep a diary of their workflow or food consumption for an extended period.  An incentive for an over-time commitment factors in the actual hours it will take for respondents’ to complete the tasks, but it also factors in a dollar amount that will keep them engaged and participating for the days, weeks, or months that are required.

The difficulty of the recruit comes into play when it is necessary to talk to a highly trained or very specific, low incidence target market.   If there are a limited number of possible respondents, when recruiters find them they want incentives to be higher than average so the qualified person is more likely to agree to participate.   In this case, increasing the participation rate reduces the number of recruiting hours needed to successfully complete the project.

Don’t underestimate the importance of time of day when determining incentives.   If you need stay-at-home parents to participate in a group or interview at 3 PM, just when the children are coming home from school, you are going to have to factor in the possibility that they will need to hire a babysitter.   If you are asking full-time professionals to participate in research during business hours, they will need to be compensated enough to make up for missing work.

Finally, the market where the research is going to be conducted can directly impact incentives.  Large urban markets command higher incentives than small town or rural markets where parking is free, and the cost of living is lower.

One other time when incentives are adjusted is in the moment, if weather is expected to impact show rates.   When it’s raining hard, or a snowstorm is expected, people are more likely to cancel.   To make the trip in inclement weather worth their while, we may increase incentives at the last minute, or offer a bonus for people who show up on time.

So when determining incentives, remember that there is not a “one size fits all” answer.   The real answer is “it depends!”

Pitches, Curveballs and Closers: What This Qualitative Strategist Has Learned from Baseball

Posted on: November 10th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Chris Efkenpicture1

It was once said that baseball is a nervous breakdown spread over nine innings.  If you watched game seven of the World Series last week you might have experienced this statement first hand.  This October the Cubs have brought me to the edge and back.  I grew up a Cubs fan.  I have a son Addison.  And I have had pets named Wrigley and Murphy.  I admit it… I’m in deep.    Even as a qualitative researcher, I find that baseball philosophies and strategies are near to my heart because they can often be directly applied to every project I work on.

Here are a few of my favorite baseball quotes and my take on their relevance to qualitative research studies.

  1. “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”- Coach Jimmy Dugan, A League Of Their Own. We occasionally hear from clients that, due to budget constraints, they have moderated qualitative projects themselves only to quickly learn that moderating is far more difficult than it appears.  They’ve come to value the role professional moderators play in getting participants to feel comfortable revealing the deep emotional connections they have with brands, the real triggers and barriers they face when shopping or using various products, or their aspirations as a parent, care-taker, home owner, employee or friend.  Moderating can indeed be challenging.  For Doyle moderators, it’s our love for qualitative that makes it great.
  2. “You can observe a lot just by watching.” The beloved NY Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra, reminds us of the importance of observing consumer behaviors.  We learn so much about shoppers and consumers simply by watching what they do, what they don’t do, how others respond and how they craft work-around solutions to meet their everyday needs.
  3. “Baseball is a team sport with people of multiple specialties coming together” Baseball enthusiast, Jacob Cashman. Successful qualitative research projects are team efforts which include smart clients, diligent project managers, expert recruiters, friendly facility managers, tech-savvy platform providers, thoughtful participants, creative video editors and, of course, talented moderators.  All parties work in concert to ensure the project delivers the insights needed to address the business issue at hand.  The project can quickly derail if even one player drops the ball.
  4. “Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!” MLB Hall of Famer, Babe Ruth.   As in baseball, every researcher I know has, at one time or another, felt fear as they faced a group of stone-faced respondents they knew were going to require extraordinary skill to turn into productive participants; or had to deliver bad news to clients about a product or service they were enthused about; or struggled to learn a new research method because they truly believed it was going to offer value to their clients.   I’ve loosely translated this to mean never let fear keep you from stepping up to the plate and pushing yourself to get the best consumer insights needed to design new products, build your brand or create personally relevant marketing communications.
  5. “Fly the W”Chicago Cubs Fans. And, of course, after every qualitative project, there’s always a need to celebrate and perhaps do a little victory dance.