Everybody is unique– but it can be challenging to find just the right unique person for a research study when a client has multiple specific recruitment criteria. Recently we have been tasked with finding postmenopausal, obese women who experience incontinence; teen virtual reality users who are active on social media; and high-income minority luxury car buyers– all very different and very challenging populations!

How to recruit high quality BIPOC, low incidence research participants

To find the right people, we use a process that resembles a funnel. Knowing that we will disqualify up to 85% of the people we initially identify, we start by casting a wide net, then narrow the field until we end up with a small community of about 20 high-quality participants per meaningful subgroup.

Casting a wide net means using multiple approaches to recruit widely through panels, relationships with our research community, and social ads. At this stage, we kiss a lot of frogs looking for a prince.

Once we have a large group of potential respondents, we narrow the field using surveys based on self-reported qualifications. To weed out fakers and bots, we:

  • Include a few intentionally false answers.
  • Use skip logic to obscure disqualifying features to make it hard for scammers to guess at them

To find the best candidates among the smaller group that makes it through this stage, we request test videos. For example, a prospective luxury car buyer might be asked to film a tour of their current car. This establishes that they really own the car and that they can offer great feedback on video.

We vet for:

  • Identity: Does the person fit the demographic criteria?
  • Behavior: Does the person model the behavior we’re studying?
  • Use Case: Does the person use or need the product or service?
  • Usefulness: Will the person offer creative feedback?

Participants who rise to the top of these screening rounds are invited to join the study.

Because self-paced results are relatively easy to process, we can recruit a slightly larger pool of participants than we would for one-on-one interviews or focus groups, so we always over recruit. A bigger pool of respondents allows us to include additional perspectives, increases our chances of recruiting superstar respondents (the ones that offer “aha” moments and creative ideas) and ensures we can meet our deadlines.

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