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Key to Sampling Success? Get Creative!

May 24, 2021

Part 1: Recruiting for iHUTs and Using Snail Mail

The marketing research industry has a critical problem: many respondents don’t enjoy the survey taking process anymore. A key factor could be panelist abuse in our industry (e.g., too many invitations, not fulfilling incentives, surveys not matched to the respondent so DNQ too often, or poorly designed surveys). Or it could be something else, such as lack of trust in general, or fears about privacy or scams. Ultimately, the reason doesn’t matter because the impact is the same.

Additionally, clients are looking for more difficult-to-find respondents (e.g., low incidence rate, small geo targets, or multiple qualifications), making the sample providers’ job still more difficult. And finally, clients are increasingly concerned about proving that respondents are “real” people, even to the point of requiring LinkedIn profile confirmation for B2B studies.

The bottom line is that traditional sampling methods just are not as effective as they used to be. Sample providers have a hard time filling difficult quotas by looking at their panels (or their partners’ panels). If sample providers want to meet their clients’ more complex needs and demands, they must find creative ways to apply traditional sampling approaches to find difficult-to-reach and hard-to-convince respondents.

Introducing: Creative Sampling

This blog kicks off a series which highlights how Symmetric has solved various sample challenges by being creative with the traditional tools of sampling. This is not necessarily to prescribe any specific approach to sampling. Instead, we hope to open your mind to the need to think a little bit outside the traditional sampling box to solve your research problems.

Creative Sampling: Locating Respondents Who Are Hard to Find

An iHut Case Study: Use My Washing Machine—please!

A major appliance manufacturer wanted test a new washing machine to see how people use their washing machines. They wanted respondents to agree to replace their existing washing machine with one from our client. As you can imagine, recruiting consumers to allow someone to swap out your existing washing machine with another one was no simple task.

We recruited dozens of our American Consumer Opinion panel members via an online screener in 4 major cities in the U.S. The machines were delivered and installed by our client’s certified installers. As part of the project incentive, respondents kept the washer (valued at $800) after project completion. In return, respondents agreed to allow a video camera to be set up in their laundry rooms, where the camera would stream live video each time the motion sensor activated the camera. Our client received detailed information about how people use their washer, how often they did laundry, what settings respondents used for different types of laundry, and much more. Respondents also completed weekly surveys about their experiences using the machines.

Despite the sensitive nature of the information needed by our client and the demands of the project on respondents, we completed the project on time and on budget, and the client was very pleased with the insight they received from our panel members.

An iHUT Case Study: Hair Color

It is well known that people in general tend to be particular about their hair. With this in mind, how do you recruit women to let you test hair coloring products on their hair? One of our clients wanted just that: to test new hair dyes with women in the U.S. who dye their hair using either the client’s or a competitor’s hair dye brand. This was a 3-month product test with 3 dyes being tested by each respondent, one dye per month.

Fortunately, Symmetric has its own iHut mailing center and can handle all the logistics of labeling/relabeling, packaging, and mailing worldwide. Having a one-stop shop for mailing for iHUTs and mail surveys increases quality control (as opposed to having multiple mailing centers or services), and high-quality control was critical for this project’s success.

To control which product respondents used each time, we mailed them the correct product for each wave. First, we matched them with the hair color they currently use and shipped the right product to each participant. After using the product, participants took a survey about their experience and the outcome. Four weeks later, when it was time to dye or retouch their hair again, we sent them another version of the product and again asked them to complete the survey. Four weeks after the second phase, we sent respondents the final product and survey. At the end of the trial, respondents took the final survey, rating the products and comparing all three on many different factors (e.g., ease of use, how long the color lasted, quality of the product, overall happiness).

Because of the delicate nature of the product and respondents’ reactions to the outcomes, communications with respondents were critical to remind them to use the product on time, complete the surveys, and stay engaged in the project. Because of our outstanding team, project was a huge success!

A Snail Mail to Internet Case Study

It may sound antiquated, but there are times when only old-fashioned mail can reach the people you need for your survey. Sometimes, especially for small geographic targets (often rural or with low broadband access) or for low-incidence respondents, you simply cannot get a good list of email addresses or phone numbers. For these situations, snail mail comes to the rescue.

In one case, the client had list of customers containing names and mailing addresses only and wanted to conduct an online survey. We proposed a postcard-to-online methodology. Symmetric printed and mailed the client-branded postcards (to increase the response rates), which contained the survey link and a contact email address for any respondents who had challenges completing the survey. The response rate exceeded the client’s expectations, and they have returned annually to conduct the same project with our team.

Creative Sampling Works

Despite consumers’ reluctance to take surveys, you can complete even the most challenging and demanding project if you sample creatively. Don’t tie yourself to the traditional approaches of online surveys and related sampling. Stay open to the fact that you may need to do sampling differently to get to the people and information you need.

Do you have a difficult recruit or a hard-to-find sample? Call or email Symmetric for help today!

Stay Tuned for our next creative sampling blog!

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