Why can’t I take part in paid market research more often?

‘So just because I took part in a research project about my car last month, why can’t I apply for this one about moisturiser taking place on Thursday? Surely they’re so completely different, I don’t understand why I can’t take part!”

This kind of refrain is all too commonly expressed here at Saros, and there are a number of different elements involved in the answer.

The first is simply to do with fairness and representation. So far this year we have placed over a thousand people into different paid market research projects around the UK, such as focus groups and user tests. But that still leaves over 300 thousand yet to have a go just from the people registered on the Saros database, never mind the 60 million other people in the UK who haven’t had the chance yet!

To be honest it would actually be a lot easier for our interviewers to simply pick out people who have participated already, proved themselves reliable and have already got all their questions answered and know what’s expected of them. But they wouldn’t be doing their job properly if they did that — and our interviewers always do their job.

But it’s not just about fairness to individuals. Our clients, the market researchers or products/brands paying for the research, deserve to have the widest possible range of contributions to their projects as possible. All other things being equal, they would prefer a completely fresh participant than someone who has previously had their say.

None of us know which nugget emerging from the analysis of the 10 different two hour group discussions could be the pivotal thing on which a massive strategic decision rests, like the killer new product name or feature — although of course most of the gems come in smaller particles that together let patterns emerge and a way forward become clear.

Fresh voices, fresh ideas from fresh participants — this is what clients come to Saros for, and what we have to provide. People with no expectations about the processes involved, no knowledge about the products or categories being tested, who have no personal or professional stake in the decisions being made, and will look at it from a completely new point of view.

This is important because, surprisingly enough, some of the kinds of thought exercises and activities you might do in two qualitative group discussions could be quite similar — even if one is about cars and the next is about moisturiser. The things that attract us to different brands, consciously and unconsciously, the ways we make decisions and all the big and small factors that influence that, aren’t all that different from one product category to another.

And the way those things are discussed and those preferences unearthed may not vary that much either — different researchers have different repertoires of techniques they use to unearth both the values we are positively aware of and those we have internalised to the point of not even being aware. Although the brands and products involved are so different, the way you choose both cars and skincare may not be as different as you think. Do you go for trusted, established brands, or does something innovative appeal more? Are you mainly value driven, or does ‘reassuringly expensive’ resonate for you? How loyal are you to a brand you use regularly… or are you often swayed by discounts and special offers? These aspects of our character and decision-making processes are more intrinsic than we might credit.

So this is why with Saros, you don’t get put forward for multiple research events. The industry code of practice recommending a minimum 6 month ‘rest’ between participation dates is there for a reason, and we uphold it because we believe in it, and because we are Company Partners of the Market Research Society.

If other recruitment companies don’t respect this element of the Code of Practice, then what other ones may they be overlooking. Your confidentiality, your wellbeing? We don’t believe in picking and choosing here at Saros.

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