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How to get the right amount of respondents for your market research

When you carry out market research for your business, getting everything in place takes time, effort and expense. So when the day arrives, nothing is worse than respondents failing to show up.rawpixel-196464-unsplashIt’s the nightmare scenario, but it happens all too frequently. You have to plan to make sure enough people turn up otherwise you are going to be left frustrated. First, you need to decide how many people you want. Next, you need to ensure enough of them actually show up. Here’s some help to get you started.

Work Out How Many People You Need

The first thing to do is decide on the number of people that you need as a minimum. How many people do you need to make this work? Come up with a figure for the absolute minimum, then base all your recruitment attempts around this. How many will you need to make the research valid? This depends entirely on what you are trying to accomplish. For focus groups, you will have to consider how many people the moderator can realistically handle as well as the maximum number of people you can have to ensure every member of the group has an input. You don’t want too many in your focus group, and 8-10 is a good ideal to keep in mind for most groups if you want to get quality insights. Also consider:

  • The amount of time you have
  • The space available
  • Your budget
  • How specialised the research is 
  • The amount of insight you need

Increase the chances that people will show up

If you are running a focus group, once you decide on a figure, you need to make sure the people actually show up, which is something we are tasked with for our recruitment services. You simply cannot guarantee people will show up for focus groups. People get ill, plans change, some people just decide they cannot be bothered. So how can you make sure enough people come along?

Provide all the details

Give respondents as much information as you can. They should know what the project involves, why you are doing it, what you will use it for and more. They can decide whether it interests them early on, and they are also more likely to feel comfortable if they know exactly what to expect.

Show they are valued

Let the respondents know how important they are and that their opinions really matter. People like to know this; they don’t want to go if it’s going to be a waste of time. In short, make them feel special. You can do this by personalising your outreach. The more important they are, the more personalised your approach should be.

Use an incentive

A reasonable and targeted incentive can definitely help to increase the chances that respondents will show up. Just make sure it is suitable for the type of research and group. You can learn more about incentives here.

Choose your location carefully

The easier it is for people to travel to your group, the more likely they are to show up. Also, clearly explain to them how they should get there and make it as easy as possible. Let them know the nearest tube stations or bus routes as well as car parking instructions, and don't forget to send them a map.

Only keep them as long as necessary

Do you really need respondents to stay for so many hours? Decide on a minimum and then stick to this because people don’t want their time wasted.

Send reminders

Confirmation emails are a simple and effective way to ensure respondents don’t forget about your research group. Or send out a text message the day before.

Always over-recruit for your research

As well as doing all of the above to make sure as many people as possible turn up, you without a doubt over-recruit for your event. You have to recruit more than you actually need because some people will always fail to show up, whatever the reason may be.As a rule, recruit two more people than you need. So, if you need four, invite six. If you need six, invite 8.


Now we know how to make sure you’ve got the right amount, read our next blog on why an over-recruit is so important.

 Qualitative market research