I *love* qualitative market research.
It’s a rare and wonderful domain of connection. I mean, where else is there permission to invite yourself into a stranger’s life and explore how they experience the world? Or the venue to ask “why is that important?” again and again, and people don’t get angry, they go with you?
Like I said: Love. It.
But before any of us get to the exciting qualitative market research methodologies — and they really can be exciting — you have to get the right people in the room. As a creative agency, Vermilion’s philosophy about recruiting respondents helps us make qualitative market research more accessible, budget-friendly, and consistent in delivering high-quality respondents.
And that’s why, friends, we wanna give recruiting respondents a little extra love and appreciation.
❤️ IN-HOUSE RESEARCH RECRUITMENT MANAGEMENT
Among the most critical decisions you make as a qualitative researcher is how you identify your target respondents and who you invite to share their experience. And yet, qualitative screening instruments often skim the surface. They get what’s needed to qualify folks — demographics, purchasing and consumption habits, affinity groups, attitudinal indicators, etc. — but it’s a broad portrait.
There are countless reasons for this (all reasonable), but one is certainly the level of project familiarity and attention required to manage a deep respondent qualification process. That’s why we love — prefer, even — managing recruitment in-house.
Yes, bringing recruitment in-house requires work. But, it helps us ensure we get the right people to show up. By building robust screening instruments and evaluating our total applicant pool (not just a handful of selects) we’re able to maximize our consideration of possible respondents and curate more interesting, attitudinally coherent cohorts. It also allows us to make greater use of lower-cost resources like in-network recruiting (more on that later).
Our work on the City of Boulder’s Climate Commitment strategy is a good example (you can also check out our related brand strategy work). By managing audience recruitment in-house we were able to expand another partner’s community survey to do double duty as our market research recruitment instrument. The result was robust insight about our prospective respondents that led to thoughtful development of diverse, attitudinally distinct cohorts in our qualitative research.
❤️ IN-NETWORK MARKET RESEARCH RECRUITING
Sourcing consumer insights from your current audience base (email list, social channels, etc.) is sometimes seen as an inferior option — like, what you do when you’re not flush enough for outside recruiting costs. But the truth is, we have found in-network recruiting yields powerful, actionable insights throughout our work as a creative agency — often at a lower cost and without the serial “focus groupies” we’ve all encountered from time to time.
Your followers and subscribers aren’t just one type of person. They represent different levels of involvement with your brand and different attitudes, values, and lifestyles that inform their relationship with your brand.
By developing robust and dimensionalized market research recruitment tools, we’re able to better assess and zoom-in on distinctions within an organization’s existing audience base. And, by understanding the role of the brand in their lives and the attitudes and values they hold, we develop market research studies that get to information only available from that specific target.
For instance, we partnered with Out Boulder County to better understand the needs of our LGBTQ+ community members from age 50 and up. Building from the existing pool of research with LGBTQ elders, we developed a thorough screening instrument focused on key emotions, needs, and values. Then we leveraged Out Boulder County’s email and social networks to recruit 5 distinct cohorts that revealed the diversity of experience in the community and, in turn, sparked a whole new approach to programming for the organization.
Whether you’re a natural product CPG brand, a nonprofit, a foundation, or an educational institution, identifying your target audience, understanding their beliefs and attitudes, and decoding their decisions and behaviors is foundational to sustainable brand growth. It’s also true that connecting with the real people who surround your brand — your fans, your future fans, even your haters — always brings new electricity to your business and creative teams.
By feeling a little more love for market research recruitment, you can make that spark even more powerful.