Fresh Research Participants1200

Free-range market research recipe

Hugh Carling

Hugh Carling


Co-founder of Liveminds. I love to bring like-minded people together. Whether that's growing businesses, running online communities, staging events or captaining my village cricket team, nothing makes me happier than seeing people with a shared passion, coming together and making the most of it.

As the march of time takes me ever closer to my 40th birthday, I’ve found myself focusing on ways to improve my long-neglected health, particularly the poor diet that has now become so routine. After all, you are what you eat, which is why Ron Sellers’ excellent article ‘Researchers: Is There Poop in Your Brownies?’ on the GreenBook blog gave me serious food for thought.

In our recent industry study, 97% of researchers agreed that high-quality recruitment is vital to good quality research. But the latest GRIT survey found that many insights buyers and research providers think sample quality is getting worse.

Questioning participant quality can be a sticky subject for some researchers, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. If the state of traditional recruitment is making your blood boil I’d urge you to sample a new, improved recipe.

Recipe: Find superior quality participants for your research brownies

(Allergy advice - Behavioural Recruitment does not contain poop)

As with any research recipe, the quality of the ingredients affects the quality of the insights generated. Most of the researchers in our study said they want participants who accurately fit their specifications and who are more motivated; they also said they want to see fewer repeat respondents. Behavioural Recruitment ensures you’ve selected fresh, ethically sourced, free-range participants rather than over-processed, artificial respondents from confined databases.

Free-range vs battery-caged

Most traditional recruitment relies on limited databases or panels of people who’ve expressed interest in participating in research. The biggest panel contains around 13 million members from 68 countries. Behavioural Recruitment, powered by Facebook, has access to over 2.2 billion users in 190 countries around the world. That’s comparable to selecting the most appropriate grains of salt from either a pint glass or a bathtub.

Ethically-sourced vs artificial

Database and panel members are targeted based on their self-reported characteristics. Our study revealed that more than half of researchers believe too many participants lie to get recruited and that some recruiters encourage participants to lie. I’m not saying all recruiters and all participants are guilty of this, but that the current system allows it.

Behavioural Recruitment addresses these issues by using Facebook’s unparalleled data on what people have actually done, rather than what they say they’ve done. People are only invited to begin the recruitment process if they’ve demonstrated behaviours, interests and demographics that match the required specifications for each project.

Fresh vs over-processed

Many researchers worry that too few people are doing too much research because it raises questions about validity. Repeat respondents become more and more professional, and they no longer represent the views of real consumers. Data protection means people cannot identify repeat offenders across databases. So working to the current model, the problem cannot be monitored or regulated. In our study, more than half the researchers said they’d recognised the same people in different projects within the last 12 months. The greater reach afforded by Behavioural Recruitment means participants are typically fresh to research, meaning, so you get real consumers’ views rather than conditioned responses.

Eat better, feel better

Facing up to the reality of middle age has had some unexpected benefits. Giving up the butter- and sugar-filled feasts of old and eating the kale my wife buys rather than feeding it to the dog has gotten me leaner and fitter and given me a new spring in my step. After all, as Julia Child said,

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients.

To enjoy the healthiest, best-quality research brownie, you must source authentic, representative participants who are fresh to research.