Frequently asked questions about participating in research

What exactly is marketing research and why should I participate?

According to the sources in Wikipedia, “Marketing research is the systematic gathering, recording and analysis of data about issues related to marketing products and services.”

In terms of how you as a consumer may see it, marketing research is your opportunity to participate in decisions being made currently that very well may impact you in the future. As a participant, you can influence:
– The design of new products (online games and websites, specialty coffee blends, even how new movies from Hollywood end!)
– The service you receive from your bank or favorite retailer
– Policies being considered by public agencies involving programs targeted for citizens like you (availability of healthcare services, the types of recreational facilities built in local parks, what it costs to park downtown, etc.)
– How easy it is to order what you want to purchase online
– Who delivers your local news on television
– To make sure that decisions being made include the consideration of your opinions, say “Yes” the next time we ask if you would like to participate in our research.

Why me? Why was my household selected for the research?

Often, your household is selected by chance – simply through drawing numbers “out of a hat” so to speak. Because we can’t talk with all households, we use a selection process that allows one household to represent many others.

In some cases, you are contacted because you have characteristics that make you someone who might be interested in the product, service or issue we are studying. This is often the case with members of our focus group panel or database.

What will happen to my information if I participate in the research?

The information and opinions that you share while participating in this type of research remain strictly confidential. It is never connected to your identity unless you give us permission to do so. (This might happen if the client who has hired us to conduct the research is interested in asking you more specific questions but only if you agree.)

The answers you give to questions in a survey are ‘coded’ numerically and grouped with other respondents’ answers in our computers. After all interviews are completed, the information is tabulated and printed out in summarized reports. Answers are never analyzed for any specific respondent or household – only in total or among groups who share some common characteristic (such as age or gender.)

How will participating in research benefit me?

Participating in a research study is your chance to have your opinions and preferences heard as decisions are being made on products, services and even important government policies. Client companies and agencies who hire us to conduct this research value the information and ideas they receive from each and every person who participates.

Also, in the case of some studies where you are asked to give more time and effort, like a focus group or in-depth interview, clients pay you for your participation.

I am on a national or state 'Do Not Call List.' Why would I be called for research?

The “Do Not Call Lists” are specifically designed to help you “opt out” of telemarketing calls. The difference between sales calls and those from legitimate research companies is that telemarketers want to sell you something while researchers simply want to ask your opinion. Among the laws passed by Congress to regulate the telemarketing industry, telemarketers are prohibited from pretending to be conducting research. They must promptly disclose that the purpose of their call is sales related.

Recognizing the value of research services, Congress specifically exempted legitimate research from these laws. However, even though researchers are not compelled by law, they will make every effort to respect your decision not to participate in any particular poll or research project.

If I choose to participate in a research project, what are my rights?

We value you, your household and your opinions. Your participation in a research study is very important to us and to the companies and government agencies that sponsor the research we conduct. Therefore, our relationship will be one of respect and consideration, based on the following practices:
– Your privacy and the privacy of your answers will be respected and maintained.
– Your name, address, phone number, e-mail, personal information, or individual responses will not be disclosed to anyone outside the research project without your permission.
– You will be informed in advance if your interview or group session is to be recorded. Additionally, you will be told of the intended use of the recording.
– Upon request, you will be informed of the privacy policy that applies to your participation in the research study.
– The researcher will be identified to you. You will be told the name of the research organization and the general nature of the survey.
– You will not be sold anything, or asked for money, under the guise of research.
– You will be contacted at reasonable times, but if the time is inconvenient, you may ask to be re-contacted at a more convenient time.
– Your decision to participate in a study, answer specific questions, be re-contacted at another time, or discontinue your participation will be respected.
– You are assured that the highest standards of professional conduct will be upheld in the collection and reporting of information you provide.

What exactly are focus groups?

Focus group sessions are discussion groups usually consisting of six to ten people who share their ideas, opinions and experiences with each other and a professional moderator. Each session usually lasts 1½ to 2 hours and participants tell us they enjoy the discussion even more than the refreshments we serve!

Because our clients appreciate the time and effort that people make to attend these sessions, group members are also paid an honorarium for their participation. Topics of the general sessions we conduct are diverse; from consumer products and services to mock juries and television newscast personalities.

We also conduct groups and interviews among business executives, medical professionals and government agency staff members. At times, these projects involve focus group sessions at our facilities. Other times, our interviewers will come to your office or other convenient locations.

If I decide to join your database in order to participate in research, what will happen?

Locating people to participate in a particular study usually involves contacting members of our Database. These are people who have agreed to let us call them from time to time to ask about their opinions. Based on information supplied by database members, those that are most appropriate for a particular study are contacted either by phone or email.

Our interviewers always identify themselves by name and say they are calling from Northwest Insights. If you are busy when we call, we are always happy to call back at a more convenient time. You will be asked a series of questions (usually taking 5 minutes or less) to see if you fit the guidelines set for the project. If you provide us with your email, you may receive emails with a link to a short online survey (takes a couple minutes at most). If it looks like you may qualify for that study, we will follow-up with a phone call. Also, while we have you on the phone, we may ask you a few questions regarding the other studies we’re running to see if you might be a good fit for those.

If you qualify, an invitation is extended to participate further. We will then offer details regarding the day, time, length, location, topic and the amount of the cash gift provided. If interested and available, you are then scheduled, sent a letter with directions to the facility and called a day or two beforehand to confirm your eligibility and attendance.

Every project is based on gathering information from people with particular characteristics which have been identified by our clients. Our clients ask us to obtain a mix of residents who live in our geographic areas so that not all of the opinions that are included are from any one demographic category. There will be times that you may not qualify and if that does happen, you will still be called for future studies.

The registration information we collect when you join our database is obtained with your consent through this web site, written submission or contact with our staff of professionals. We will never sell or share your information with any third parties. Our interest is in your opinions only. We will never attempt to sell you anything. If at any time you no longer wish to be contacted, just let us know.

How much will I be paid to participate?

The amounts of the honorarium for various projects vary. Clients who want to hear your opinions are willing to pay for your time and effort. Often the amount you are paid is related to what is required for you to participate (length of the session, “homework assignments to complete before the session,” etc.) You will know the honorarium for any project before you agree to participate.