There are lots of different types of market research you can get involved in. This means that there's
something for everyone (it's not just for the opinionated or the extroverts).
Here's a quick overview of the market research methods and what you might be required to do if
you take part:
A digital research experience from the comfort of your own home.
An online community is precisely what its name says: a community of people brought together in a
secure, private online space and closely managed by a team of research moderators, usually over
several days or weeks.
The research advertisement will communicate the number of days the community lasts and the
approximate hours you'll be expected to give.
They function much as social media channels do. You build a profile, and then you'll be set a
program of tasks to complete whilst taking part. The tasks could include photos, videos, voice notes,
written text, and surveys and vary per community, so you must have the right equipment and
computer knowledge to complete the tasks in full.
You'll be expected to log on regularly during the start and finish dates of the community to complete
the tasks. Leaving all the tasks to the final day is not advised.
The tasks could be revealed all at once, but more commonly, are posted every few days or can be
'released' on your successful completion of the previous task. You will be assigned a moderator who
may communicate with you during the community and ask additional questions about some of your
You'll be asked to create a username during community onboarding. Do not include any reference to
your name or location to protect your identity. You'll also be asked to upload a profile picture. Your
posts may be viewed to create digital discussion amongst other community members. Some posts
may be private and only viewed by the community moderator(s).
Focus groups usually consist of 5-7 like-minded individuals who have been selected based on
common criteria. Focus groups can be in-person in a venue (usually a viewing facility or event venue)
or held online (often via ZOOM or on TEAMS). They are always led by a trained moderator who will
ask the questions and chair the group.
Focus groups typically last between 60 minutes to 3-hours. Whether online or in-person, you are
always expected to arrive at least 5 minutes before the group starts and stay until the end.
You will be asked to put your phone on silent, remove yourself from any other distractions or
interruptions, and treat the focus group as you would a business meeting.
Online focus groups always require you to have the right equipment. A laptop, desktop or tablet
device is always needed, so you can see everyone taking part at all times, and often, the moderator
will want to share visuals and words with you, so the bigger the screen, the better so you'll be able
to see and give good insights.
You will always need a fully working camera and microphone to participate, and you need to be in a
location where you can (almost) guarantee a stable connection to the internet.
If you are considering involvement in a focus group, it is important that you are confident and can
articulate your views and opinions to a group of people that you have never met before. It is also
essential that you can listen to the opinions of others, ensuring everyone has their say during the
Like focus groups, depth interviews (or depths) can be conducted online or face-to-face (and
sometimes over the telephone). A depth interview is a one-to-one interview between you and a
moderator. The moderator will guide you through the interview as more of a discussion rather than
a series of questions and your response.
It is crucial that you know the subject you will be talking about inside out and upside down, bringing
your unique, real-life experiences to the interview and allowing the moderator to uncover the truth
about the topic.
Love to shop? Then share this with a moderator, in-person, in-store and talk about it.
You'll meet a moderator who be with you every step of the way. Sometimes they may simply
observe your natural behaviour. Sometimes they will ask questions about what you see, what you
think and why you did something whilst shopping. They may ask your opinions on ranges, display,
packaging, merchandising, layout, signage, staff interactions, and more.
In-home interviews are often conducted when a research team wants to get into their customers'
nitty-gritty and purchasing choices. They can also be done if the researcher wants to observe and
delve into natural behaviour or because the equipment required is already in your home. They may
also be undertaken if you have specific mental or physical needs, removing barriers and enabling you
to contribute to the research study.
You'll always know beforehand who's coming to your home and what they look like, and they must
present their ID before you allow them in. You'll often have a quick introductory phone call, and
we'll always talk through concerns and queries before your session, giving you the peace of mind to
Workshops or Co-Creation Sessions
These longer sessions require mental stamina. Usually, between 3 and 6 hours long, these
workshops require focused, creative, confident, articulate and quick-thinking individuals to bring
their skills and opinions to the session with enthusiasm.
Almost always, workshops and co-creation sessions are held face-to-face. This is because they're
very interactive, requiring you to get involved with discussion alongside an activity or collaboration
with others, workshopping a solution to a problem. You may be asked to examine prototype
products, test new solutions and critique design or advertising.
These sessions will commonly include members of the research sponsor team who will want to hear
and see first-hand reactions (good or bad) to their new product, design or service.
Often observational based, in-part with depth(s) following on.
The observation part of this research allows moderators to observe your conscious and unconscious
behaviour. Sometimes this research is conducted with a moderator in a quiet room, observing and
recording what, when and how you do things. Alternatively, ethnographies can be conducted
remotely with motion sensor cameras recording footage in the same way.
Panels are a great way to regularly engage in research over a long period of time (usually around 12
months). You become one of a pool of people invited to participate in surveys and questionnaires or
smaller, more intimate research options like focus groups, accompanied shops and depth interviews.
Research opportunities are advertised to panel respondents only, and you register your interest to
participate in the ones that pique your interest or you have time to take on. Each opportunity you
take part in is rewarded with a separate incentive, so you're almost guaranteed incentives
throughout the panel's duration.
If you're considering joining a research panel, our best advice is to ensure that the subject of the
panel is of genuine interest to you or you feel passionately about. You'll get more from getting
involved, and the researchers and research sponsor will benefit from your engagement and deeper
Pre-Tasks or Post-Tasks
These are usually short activities required to be undertaken by you before or after the primary
A pre-task will prepare you, getting your mind into gear in preparation for the session. They also
help the moderator to understand more about you, how you do things and your likes and dislikes
before you meet. Post-tasks are often used to qualify an experience you may have discussed in your
The format of pre and post-tasks can vary significantly from completing a survey, creating a mood
board, buying a product, keeping a usage diary, or designing your product wish list.
It's important that you complete these in full and submit any response by the deadline. They often
help you more than they help the researchers and enable you to give better and more organised
insight in the primary research session.
The incentive value of pre and post-tasks is always communicated separately from the primary
research session incentive value.
Surveys can be completed in many ways – store exit surveys, on-street surveys, telephone surveys,
online surveys, and mobile surveys. They're all about collating hundreds of responses simultaneously
every time to produce a dataset. The data is then analysed, checking for frequency, similarities,
differences, and patterns informing critical decisions for brands and companies across every area of
A research project often starts with a survey, allowing researchers insight into trends across a
brand's consumers before progressing to more in-depth research formats to understand the human
Surveys are often not incentivised, although you can usually opt-in to enter a prize draw for a chance
to win a voucher for participating. Completing a survey may also present further research
opportunities connected to the same project.
Have you ever seen an advert for moisturiser or shampoo, "over 97% of people who tested agree"?
The statistic has come from market research product testing.
The whole reason for product testing is to record and collate many people's opinions in the same
way, to discover similarities, differences, negatives and positives. Often used in developing new
products or redesigning existing products, a brand can modify, curate, select or discount concept
products before they take them to market.
Product tests can be in-person at a venue. These are often held when additional equipment is
required to test the product(s) thoroughly, and some rigour and control are necessary to enable you
to do so.
At-home tests require products to be sent directly to your home. You'll be provided with a set of
user instructions for the product(s) you are testing over several days precisely to the instructions.
You'll likely feed back on your experience via online surveys.
User Experience (UX Testing)
Much of how we plan and research, what we experience and how we browse and purchase now
takes place online. Testing website navigation, functionality and online services, experiences and
interactions with brands online are crucial to ensuring online sale success and customer satisfaction.
UX testing can occur face-to-face (so you're directly observed), online, including interactions with a
moderator or independently online and recorded.
Market research should always be conducted by trained moderators, interviewers and researchers.
DBS-checked moderators will conduct interviews involving children, and parental consent will always