The primary goal of your market research is to garner accurate data that can be used to gain insight to aide business decisions. In order for this to occur, your market research participants must meet certain criteria and be of a certain caliber. This is the only way to be certain of genuineness and honesty in your participants’ responses.
Research participants incentives are a traditional means to both gain interest in a research project and to encourage honesty in the answers provided. But incentives have also been faulted for getting the wrong kind of attention from the wrong set of respondents. What are the pros and cons of offering incentive to your market research participants? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
Free Value-Added Incentives
Most people agree that their time is valuable. But there are plenty of example where people are willing to give up their time for free. Two tools are commonly used to entice people to answer research questions for free.
The first incentive that holds the most value for participants, is the perception of value itself. When potential participants are told that their input is extremely important and will be used to make important industry decisions, they are more likely to agree to give their opinion. At some level, engagement of the respondent in feeling their opinion matters is a critical component of getting participation of any audience. People are more likely to provide honest answers when they believe that those answers will be used to influence change.
The second is to promise that the amount of time will be minimal. In most cases this works, because people are usually willing to give up a small amount of time in the interest of research.
These are two very potent incentives that can be used to increase market research participation.
Paid incentives are a means to get participants for market research and studies that are less attractive. This is usually a balance between the reason for them to engage in the topic and what they have to do to complete the research.
For example, a software company wanting to do B2B research with IT decision makers of mid-size businesses. These business decision makers are solicited constantly for sales purposes and mostly know they are going to gloss over any outside calls. The interviewer has to at least show a surface level understanding of what the person does and be able to explain why their opinion matters and that this particular research is important. The time of this person is valuable though. Even for a 10-15 minute conversation they deserve compensation.
In making a decision about whether to offer an incentive and how much it should be a researcher has to understand the target audience and balance engagement and monetary value.