Case Study:

How Angelfish pulled out all the stops to recruit respondents for a new plant-based food brand 

Discover how Angelfish went above and beyond to recruit respondents with super specific requirements and how our fab preparation and excellent communication enabled us to ensure everything went smoothly.

FMCG Pasta Sauce
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The Client

A research agency who like to experiment with a new way of working!

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The Objective

To gain in-depth insights from vegans/vegetarians and flexitarians looking to reduce their meat and dairy intake and understand their opinions on a brand new plant-based food brand. 

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The Methodology

A face-to-face focus group and product testing session followed by a take home task.

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The Duration

1x 90-minute focus group and product testing session, followed by three days to complete the follow-up task at home.

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The Incentive

A £100 eGift card for the completion of both stages.

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Our Participants

We recruited 40 people (20 vegan/vegetarian and 20 flexitarian) for 32 participants, aged between 25-55 from a mix of different household types.


Find out how Angelfish went the extra mile for our clients - and why thinking outside the box is so important for research recruitment! 

Our client came to us to help them find a mix of flexitarians and vegans/vegetarians for feedback on their client’s new range of vegan sauces. 

Read on to find out how we nailed the brief for this project by recruiting high-quality, engaged participants, and how we went above and beyond to ensure the research was a success…  


So, who was our client for this project? 

Our client, a research agency, specialises in a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods and are always keen to experiment with new ways of working.  

They were recruiting on behalf of their client, a new plant-based food brand looking to launch a range of four vegan sauces that are also free from dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, and all other major allergens. 

What was their end goal? 

For this project, the goal was to gain in-depth insights and feedback on the end client’s range of new vegan sauces. As such, this project needed a mix of flexitarians and vegans/vegetarians to take part in a focus group, a product tasting session, and an at-home task in order to gather feedback on the sauces. 

With these insights, they wanted to understand their potential customers’ thoughts on the taste and appearance of the sauces in order to make changes to the recipe or pitch.  

In addition, they were also looking to understand how to appeal to both vegans and those already on a plant-based diet, as well as people who are interested in reducing their meat and dairy intake. 

Who were the participants?

Crucially, the participants for this study needed to be a mixture of vegans/vegetarians who were already eating plant-based foods, as well as those looking to reduce their meat and dairy intake.

As such, we needed to recruit a mixture of 20 vegans/vegetarians and 20 flexitarians:  

The flexitarians

  • Meat eaters trying to increase their intake of vegetables, fruit, and plant-based foods and reduce their consumption of meat and dairy
  • Vegetarians wanting to reduce dairy/are occasional plant-based eaters
  • Those who have to shop and cook for a family member who is vegan/plant-based  

The vegans/vegetarians

  • Those who are vegan or eat exclusively plant-based foods
  • Vegetarians who eat a vegan/plant-based diet a least three or four days a week 

That’s not all, though! Other important criteria within these groups included people with food allergies or intolerances, or those with people in their household affected by allergies and intolerances. 

The end client also wanted to target people who regularly use convenience foods such as ready-made sauces, people who enjoy trying new foods, and people who were prepared to pay more for better quality food.

Finally, because of the face-to-face focus groups, the participants also needed to be based in Leeds/London and be prepared to travel to the research locations.

Phew! With such a varied mix of participants for a super fun project - and as massive foodies ourselves - we couldn’t wait to get stuck in!  

A little look into the methodology…

8 x 90-minute face-to-face group discussions (5 for 4 in each group) split by dietary requirements taking place in London and Leeds. 

The client asked each respondent to try each sauce by itself and then had a chef prepare a meal using each sauce. 

The respondents were asked for their honest feedback on each sauce – particularly around taste, texture, smell and appearance. 

This was followed by a take home task – respondents were asked to take home two products to review and had three days to try these different sauces with their own recipes at home, get other members of their family to try and feedback to the client. 

What challenges did we face? 

This project needed us to recruit people with very specific dietary requirements who were living in Leeds or London and happy to travel to the research locations to take part. Lucky, then, that working with strict criteria is one of our specialities!

We also needed to ensure that we received all 40 signed consent forms ahead of the research to ensure that the participants understood the risks and liabilities involved with testing food products.  

Another important reason we needed to ensure the consent forms were signed was because the research was being filmed for internal purposes, so the participants needed to wear a microphone and be filmed throughout.  

However, for this project, the biggest challenge was Covid.  



Unfortunately, the researcher and cameraman from our client’s team tested positive for covid following the first focus groups in London, which definitely added a bit of stress to the project!

However, luckily, all social distancing and hygiene practices had been followed, so we were able to put our respondents' minds at ease. 

Communication and relationships have always been really important to us here at Angelfish, and by keeping in close contact with our client.

What’s more, thanks to our initial over-recruit, we could also replace anyone who couldn’t make the new time. Crisis averted!  


The Angelfish twist...

As with every market research project here at Angelfish Fieldwork, we plunged in headfirst from the very beginning... 

A variety of recruitment methods  

Like many of the projects we work on with specific inclusion criteria and quota splits, it was essential that we used a mix of different methods to find the right participants for the study.

From paid social media campaigns targeting vegans and vegetarians to good old-fashioned word of mouth and asking people who ran vegan/vegetarian societies. 

Something Powerful

Communication with our clients

At Angelfish, we’re all about the people, and relationships and communications have always been super important to us.

This proved to be more vital than ever before after the covid positive result following the London session and enabled us to reassure our participants, ensure the best possible results from rescheduling, and make sure our respondents were as safe as possible at all times. 

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The results 

We were really pleased with the results of this one, especially with the specific criteria and covid-shaped bump in the road! In fact, we’re happy to report that 90% of respondents attended and completed the research.

The client was also over the moon with the high-quality insights generated from the study - so it was a huge success all around. Oh, and we also got some excellent feedback from our respondents too: 


“The research was really interesting, and the fact you got samples to actually try at home was brilliant, a really good research topic.” 

“Interesting research topic and very relevant to me as trying to cut back on meat/dairy.”

“It was well run, and it was clear what you needed to do.”

“It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed interacting with the other participants.” 

Key takeaways 

Use different recruitment methods - with such specific criteria for this project, thinking outside the box when it came to recruitment methods played a huge part in the success of the project

Get everything right at the start – with in-depth consultations and a clear, detailed brief from the get-go, this project had the best possible foundations on which to build towards a successful outcome. 

Strong communication is key - both with the client and with the respondents, communication is king - especially when it comes to smoothing out any bumps in the road. It’s all about those relationships! 

Are you looking to recruit high-quality participants for your next research project?

If so, be sure to get in touch with the Angelfish team today! 

By teaming up with us for your qualitative market research recruitment, you’ll have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a dedicated project management team who will ensure that every stage of your project is a resounding success. 

Not only that, but we’ll also be on hand throughout the project to provide additional expert guidance and regular updates.  

Sound good?