From the desk of Kathy Doyle
When you ask your qualitative partners to provide a cost estimate for your research project, do you know what the key factors are that impact the price they provide? Knowing that information could help you save money, avoid surprises, and provide you with a better idea of how to evaluate competing bids.
In any qualitative bid, there are five key factors that impact price:
1. Screening criteria: The more difficult the screening criteria, and the more questions that need to be asked of respondents during the screening process (which impacts cooperation rates) the greater the cost. For that reason, focus on the “need to know” questions, such as key demographics/psychographics, and category/brand usage. “Nice to know” information can be covered in the research.
2. Size of the recruit: The more participants you recruit, the greater the cost. Because qualitative is designed to provide direction rather than to be projectable to a larger population, be conservative with your sample size. Tip: don’t forget to account for last minute cancellations, no shows and respondents who don’t pass a re-screen. We recommend over-recruiting by 20% to ensure that you end up with the number of respondents requested. When comparing bids, make sure to ask whether the cost estimate includes the cost for over-recruits.
3. Incentives: There are three things that influence how much respondents are paid: the difficulty of the recruit, the location of the research, and the amount of work a respondent is being asked to do. The difficulty of the recruit goes without saying: the harder it is to find respondents (very low incidence, consumers vs. professionals), the more you need to pay to make sure they agree to participate. And if your research is being conducted digitally vs. in-person, incentives will most likely be lower because respondents are able to participate from the convenience of their home or office. Finally, the more you ask respondents to do, the greater the incentive. Do you need them for 30-minutes, 2 hours, 2 weeks? Be realistic about how much time you need to accomplish your research objectives, so that you are not paying more in incentives than is necessary.
4. Facility Rental or Platform License Fees: Time is king. The more time you spend in a facility, or licensing a technology platform, the greater the cost. Know how much time you’ll need to accomplish your goals, and set the length of the research sessions accordingly. Padding, because you haven’t adequately scoped out the research, can cost you. And conversely, not allowing enough time can shortchange results.
5. Deliverables: The type of deliverable required can dramatically impact your costs, easily increasing professional fees by 50% or more. Do you need a detailed report, an executive summary, or just a post-research debriefing session? A multi-media PPT presentation, or a professionally edited video report? Be realistic: contract only for what you know your team will use.
Armed with this information, you can be confident that you have designed your research to maximize results and minimize costs.