How Important are ‘Show Rates’ for Qualitative Studies?

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The marketing research industry norm is to have a recruitment buffer which helps to ensure that enough participants are present for qualitative research studies. Recruitment agencies are asked to recruit nine for six to show; ten for eight to show etc. Focus group success is partly dependent on a specific number of participants to run certain group exercises and qualitative research techniques established in the discussion guide.

Any experienced qualitative researcher knows that there are certain ‘sweet spots’ of ideal number of participants in a focus group discussion and that the ‘sweet spots’ depend on research objectives, the type of product we are discussing, the type of respondent we are dealing with and moderator preference. In some instances, dyads/triads would work best, but a focus group of six to eight participants is preferable most of the time by moderators. “My preference is to have six high quality respondents per focus group because it allows for maximum participation and engagement.” – Daniela Hassman, moderator at SmartPoint Research.

A challenge for recruitment can sometimes be the unknown factor of participant ‘show rates’. Participants are people with regular lives and a number of things can happen in their daily lives that can affect whether they are able to show up to a scheduled focus group. At SmartPoint Research, we have studied participants and their habits since the company’s inception in early 2007. We have formulated a system for recruitment that is unparalleled in the industry. We can make this claim confidently as our ‘show rate’ indicators speak for themselves.

Our recruitment ‘show rates’ over the past year have gone from good to better! In the first quarter of 2010, we had an average ‘show rate’ of 89% and we have climbed up the ladder to a ‘show rate’ of 95.2%, closing out the third quarter on a successful note. These figures convey our recruitment team’s continued strength and meticulous attention to detail, which has resulted in return clientele for our recruitment business.