Case Study:

Recruiting a senior audience for a complex three-stage interview

Find out how we helped our client to conduct a complicated three-stage interview with a senior audience on behalf of a leading convenience food producer to explore how they carry out their food shopping.

With a number of different elements to consider – not to mention recruiting a potentially vulnerable audience – we’re really chuffed with how this FMCG market research project turned out. In fact, it’s one of our favourite projects to date!

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The Client

A leading convenience food producer

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The Objective

To gather in-depth insights into the food shopping habits of people aged 65+

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The Methodology

Three-stage interview

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The Duration

Three hours

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Our Participants

12 senior respondents aged 65+ who were a mix of ages, genders, life stages and employment statuses, in two northern locations


For this project, our client – a leading convenience food producer – wanted to investigate the food shopping habits of people aged 65 and over with a view to finding out how older people did their shopping, what they bought, why they bought it and the types of food they consumed.

The 12 respondents needed to be a range of dependencies when it came to food shopping, from those who do everything themselves to those who need varying levels of assistance from friends, family and/or carers.

The session involved an in-home interview, an accompanied shop and finally, an interview whilst cooking/preparing a meal. Due to all the elements involved, we needed to ensure that all respondents were able to consent and were happy with everything involved.

What challenges did we face? 

Interview elements

One of the biggest challenges with this particular FMCG market research project was all the different elements involved in the interview.

The three-stage session included an in-home interview, a trip out to a supermarket, and another interview back home whilst they were cooking a meal – a big ask considering the demographic we were recruiting.

Recruiting respondents for a study with so many different elements is tricky at the best of times – but the age range of the target audience understandably made things even more complicated because there were additional concerns surrounding mobility or the need for extra assistance.


Respondent briefing

We also needed to be completely sure that each respondent was comfortable with what was being asked of them and that they had given their full consent for all of the different components of the study.

Quota splits

To make things more complicated, we were working with a number of quota splits: as well half of the respondents being based in Manchester and half in Leeds, they also needed to be a mix of ages and gender and a mix of life stage (single, widower or couple).

Additionally, they needed to be a mix of employment status, had to shop in-store at a variety of retailers, and either the participant or their carer needed to be responsible for the food shop.

Oh, and they all needed to eat chilled ready meals with a mixed frequency, with some consuming frozen ready meals too.

The Angelfish twist...

To achieve complete success with this project, we:

Used variety of recruitment techniques

An audience over the age of 65 can be tricky to reach out to, so we decided to use a combined approach to make sure we found the very best people for the project.

We used our dedicated panel, targeted social media campaigns and refer a friend campaigns, which called on children and grandchildren to refer their parents or grandparents – and our methods proved effective, resulting in us recruiting a full sample.

Something Powerful

Carefully built respondents’ trust

Making sure the respondents were comfortable was really important here, so we also took on something of an advisory role and helped our client ensure that each respondent was comfortable every step of the way.

We gave everyone the option of splitting the study out across separate days in case three hours felt like too much – but actually, everyone decided to go for it and do it all in one go!

Additionally, we also advised our client to send bios and photographs of the interviewers to the participants in advance to help put them at ease.

Lastly, we ensured that we had explicit consent for each of the different elements of the study, as well as the number of people attending each session.

Let's Talk

A little look into the 3-stage interview

Stage One:

A home visit where the researcher chatted to the participant about their eating and shopping habits.

Stage Two:

An accompanied shopping trip to a supermarket which was designed to be typical of the participant’s usual shopping trip, whether that be a full shopping trip, a top-up food shop or simply browsing the supermarket. If the respondent was dependent on a carer for helping them with their shopping, they also needed to be present for this stage. The participant was under no obligation to buy anything, but was welcome to if they needed to carry out some shopping anyway!

Stage Three:

For the final stage of the study, the researcher and the participant (and carer, if applicable) went back home where they would spend time preparing and eating a meal, whilst discussing their shopping habits.

The results 

We’re really pleased with the results of this FMCG market research project! We had 100% commitment and engagement from all of the respondents, with the fieldwork running smoothly across two consecutive weeks. In fact, during recruitment, we spoke to some of the nicest respondents we’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with!


All of the participants in this particular study really wanted to participate so that they felt they were involved in something – they even called in before we had the chance to confirm the study to tell us how much they were looking forward to the session!

This was reflected in the client feedback too – they thought the participants were absolutely lovely and that the interviews had been really insightful. Happy faces all around!

Key takeaways 

Use a variety of recruitment approaches – this is particularly useful if you’re attempting to recruit a hard-to-reach audience.

Put your participants’ needs first – ensure your participants are as comfortable as possible throughout the project, especially if they are a vulnerable audience.

Consider the length of time your project will take to complete – depending on your participants, your tasks may need to be longer or shorter.

What next?

When it comes to market research recruitment with Angelfish, you can expect nothing less than the best of all our years of experience right from the word go! Whatever your target audience and whatever your sector, our team will make it happen, and throughout your project, you’ll have your own dedicated project management team on hand to provide expert guidance every step of the way.