Finding the appropriate respondents for your research matters. You can ask questions all day, but it won’t get you anywhere if you’re asking the wrong people.
From focus groups to surveys, asking the right people will give you more relevant insights that are more likely to drive your business forward. But how do you know if your research population contains “the right people”? From focus groups to online surveys, you’ll want to consider the following in order to find the best respondents for your research.
Knowing your research objectives is the first step to determining who your ideal respondents are. Your target population should have first-hand experience with the questions you’re trying to answer.
Let’s say you want to improve the quality of your existing restaurant business. In this case, it makes sense to target current and former customers. But what if your restaurant business has not yet gone live? Then, you should target a population of potential customers.
If you’re hoping to gauge employee sentiment or correct issues within in your organization, the c-suite might not be the most appropriate people to ask. Look to other employees instead. For every research need, there are some better suited to provide answers than others.
Do you know what your ideal customer looks like? Are they shopping in your store or online?
How are they using your product? Are they male? Female? Well-developed customer profiles* (or target market theories) will help you determine the type of population you need to target. These profiles will play a large role in your screening and targeting criteria.
(*Note: If the purpose of your research is to define your target market(s), a slightly different approach may apply.)
Once you have determined who to ask, it’s time to determine how many to ask. Without an appropriate sample size, you may not gain enough relevant information to draw useful conclusions from your research. Sample sizes will vary from project to project. How do you know what size is right for your research?
One major determining factor is whether your research is primarily qualitative or quantitative. A qualitative sample consists of verbal and written feedback in the form of thoughts, opinions, and observations. Qualitative samples might include focus groups, in-depth interviews, observed product testing, or other discussions. Usually, qualitative research can be achieved using a smaller sample size.
Quantitative research is more systematic and may involve statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques. Quantitative sample sizes need to be larger in order to get more representative results. Overall, knowing what kind of data you are dealing with will help you determine your ideal sample size for your research.
Selecting the right type and number of respondents for your research comes from a strong understanding of your research goals. Ask yourself – what do you want to accomplish with your research? A sample made up of carefully selected respondents ultimately gives you better and more relevant insights – which will hopefully put you one step closer to achieving the vision you have for your business.