As a market researcher, your job is to collect insightful data from the right respondents. A well-designed screening questionnaire, or screener, can help you accomplish that goal by screening in profiles who are best placed to give you the information that you need and screening out people who don’t meet your criteria. In this post, we'll look at some pitfalls to avoid when creating market research screeners so you can avoid wasting time and missing opportunities to gather valuable insights in your research projects.
A good screener is one that allows you (or someone else who is recruiting participants for you) to make an immediate decision on whether the person you are talking to is suitable for your research project. You therefore need to include all of the questions that are relevant to make a decision, but avoid adding questions that aren’t strictly necessary so that the screener doesn’t end up being so long that no-one wants to answer all of it.
If you have quotas for particular types of respondent, clearly specify how many of each type you need and avoid using vague terminology like ‘recruit a mix’. Be clear about whether your quotas need to interlock. For example, if you want equal numbers of people who buy your brand and competitor brands and you have four different age categories, do you actually need the same brand affinity split in each age group or just an even split overall?
Bear in mind that specifying multiple interlocking quotas tends to make the recruitment process slower and more challenging because a sequential approach to recruitment will tend to fill the easiest combinations first, leaving very rare (or potentially non-existent) combinations to find at the end.
Particularly with B2B research projects, think about what the key screening criteria really are. For example, is job title actually relevant, or is the person’s level of responsibility more important? Is it more relevant to ask about length of experience with their current employer, length of experience in that industry, or length of experience at their current level?
If you are conducting multi-country research, you are likely to need your screener to be translated - make sure you factor a couple of days for screener translation into your timeline. In addition, you’ll need to make sure that your questions are appropriate for each country. For example, any question that asks about company size or revenue should be adjusted to reflect the fact that the average size of company varies a lot from country to country, and any question that asks about household or personal income/expenditure should be adjusted to reflect variations in average income or GDP. Don’t forget to put monetary amounts in local currency, with the boundaries of any answer ranges rounded appropriately for that currency!
Other questions that typically need to be localised to take account of national differences include: