man carrying shopping bags

How to successfully recruit an assisted shop for your qual MR

Assisted shopping is a great way for a brand to get customer insights straight from the source. During “shopalongs”, the interaction is kept to a minimum for most of the session to ensure customer behaviour remains as natural as possible. A researcher is there to observe how people approach a store, what they look for and what they like and dislike during their experience.

To maximise the potential of your assisted shop, it is important to have a good recruitment strategy in place.

Pick up the phone

During the screening phase, you need to get a good feel of who you are dealing with. There can be a huge difference between the answers a respondent has given on paper and how they approach things in real life. Personality traits shine through in a conversation so speaking to participants on the phone ensures that they are a good fit for your research. If a brand is investing time and money in qual MR, the respondents need to be able to deliver usable data. A shy respondent with no interest in the product you’re researching or a “career” research participant won’t be of any help. Without verbal communication with participants, you won’t achieve this information.

Communicate regularly

This initial contact point should not be the only time you interact with your respondent. Follow up with them on before the shopalong, show interest in their input and be available for questions anybody might have. You want people to feel comfortable as they start shopping with a researcher in tow. If they aren’t, they’ll be more inclined to change their usual behavioural patterns, which defeats the whole purpose of assisted shopping. Remember that communication mustn’t necessarily be limited to phone calls or meeting moments. We live in the 21st century; everybody has a smartphone.

Assisted Shopping

Embrace social media

As far as recruiting is concerned, social media represents a treasure trove of ideal qual MR assisted shop respondents. Advertisement for a project through social media has shown to outperform other channels, while the sharing nature of these platforms increases your reach. You could argue it is not always the ideal recruitment pool if you need to target an older demographic, but even that gap is rapidly being bridged as social media becomes further ingrained in our daily lives.

Social media can also act as a perfect communication tool. You can drop documents, video tutorials and any other piece of information you would want to pass on to your candidates in preparation of their shopalong.


Incentivising participants appropriately will encourage engagement. It is important that your incentive is in line with the time and effort that is required from the participant. For example, if participants have to complete a complex pre-task or travel to specific stores prior to the assisted shop, then they are usually incentivised higher because of these factors.

Over-recruit to avoid surprises

Even with the best screening methodology, a sustained communication strategy across all available channels and an incentive packet that is bound to satisfy the most despondent of participants, no shows and drop-outs can occur. There are various reasons for this and you should be prepared for such an eventuality by ensuring you use over-recruits. Over-recruits are extra people you recruit following the same criteria. They will be present on the day of the assisted shop to fill in for any main respondent that is not there on the day.

Do you need help recruiting great participants for your assisted shop? Download our guide to recruiting awesome participants now!

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