Ensuring High Show Rates in Qualitative Market Research Sessions


Once participants have been screened and selected for a qualitative research study, you might think the job of a recruitment team is complete. The initial screening and selection, however, is only the first step in the detailed process of participant recruitment. The next, and perhaps most important step is ensuring that, come testing day, researchers are met with a high “show rate” of participants. A research study’s show rate is the percentage of selected participants that physically attend their research sessions and actively participate.

Why are show rates important?

High show rates are vital to the success of qualitative research studies for several reasons, including:

  • Meeting Participation Quotas: When selecting participants, researchers analyze a wide range of demographic data to select a diverse population of candidates that match requirements established by the research team. When participants do not show up for their research session, it is often difficult to make last minute replacements who match these project-specific requirements
  • Small Sample Sizes: Traditionally small sample sizes in qualitative research studies mean that every recruited participant plays a vital role in providing researchers with the information they need to form key analyses. High show rates help to ensure that researchers gain timely and impactful insights from participants
  • Project Deadlines: Rescheduling and replacing participants can often prolong a study, which can be problematic when teams are working with tight deadlines
  • Budgets: If participant quotas are not met, research teams often face two options: re-field recruitment or scrap the study altogether. Both options often come at a high monetary cost, which can be problematic when research teams are working within tight budgets

What does Touchstone Research do to ensure high show rates:

With over 30 years’ experience in the qualitative recruitment space, Touchstone Research has developed a proven and winning strategy for ensuring some of the highest show rates in the industry.  Here are some of the ways Touchstone achieves high show rates in qualitative research:

  • Dedicated and skilled staff: Our success starts with our team of experienced researchers and recruiters, who work collaboratively to recruit high quality participants for each study
  • Communication: Our recruitment team maintains consistent contact with participants by:
    • Providing participants with a main point of contact who is available to answer any questions participants may have before, during, and after their research session
    • Maintaining frequent and clear communication with participants to ensure they understand their role and responsibilities in the research study
    • Utilizing multiple forms of communication (sending texts, emails, and phone call reminders)
    • Building a rapport with participants so they feel comfortable and confident about the research process
  • Backup Participants: Touchstone schedules backup participants who are prepared to participate in the event that a participant cannot attend. We will recommend the appropriate number of backup participants based on historical show rates
  • Tech-Checks: We set our participants up for success by ensuring they have the proper devices and technology to participate prior to their session.  Check out our post about the benefits of tech-checks here
  • Fair Incentive: Touchstone Research provides participants with a fair and timely incentive after they complete their research study
  • High-Level Screening Process: To take part in our studies, participants go through an extensive screening process. First, participants complete an online screening survey. Next, our research team conducts an in-depth phone interview with the participant. Additional interviews and validations are conducted on an as-needed basis to determine eligibility and ensure that the best possible candidates are selected for each study. This multi-layer screening process helps us attract highly motivated research participants for all qualitative research studies

Why Touchstone:

Touchstone strives to ensure high participant show rates in every qualitative research study. We have developed a strategic communication process between our recruitment team and participants to ensure that research participants not only show up to their research sessions but are prepared and excited to participate. On average, Touchstone research maintains show rates 80-90%+ across all Qualitative Research Studies.  Our proven track record of high show rates helps our clients maximize their research sessions to gain key insights from their target demographic.

Contact Us:

If you are looking to advance your company’s research into the digital age and gain valuable insight from consumers nationwide, Touchstone Research will help get you there. Contact our Recruitment Department’s Senior Research Manager, Maegan Juul, at [email protected] or call (860)-575-0026 to learn more.