If you’re a market researcher enjoying the rest and plenty of another festive season, have a thought today for those considerate and helpful souls who help you out all the year round.

No, not the IT department.

Everything we do rests on the goodwill of our respondents, and – in my sector at least – they are, collectively, lacking in cheer this Yuletide.

I saw and analysed a LOT of evidence in 2015, that all pointed to a coming crisis in market research participation in healthcare in the UK (and no doubt further afield too). As co-chair of a Task Force looking at the issue on behalf of my industry body (the BHBIA) I have seen how the problem is multi-faceted and spans methodologies. Some problems are beyond our direct control (the march of technology etc), whilst others are outright poor practice (nonsense online surveys etc).

For the first time last year my healthcare / Pharma niche of the market research business came together seriously, I think for the first time, to address the problem in a way that built-in cross-tier collaboration (i.e. clients and recruiters in the same room), a dedicated resource (i.e. our Task Force), and some budget.

If you or your company are BHBIA members, click here to find out more, and do contact me if you’re interested in joining up. The more the merrier!

One of the first things our Task Force resolved to do is find out from healthcare professionals (HCPs) themselves which issues erode their goodwill the most, and/or present the greatest obstacles to participation. We’ll be working collaboratively to include HCPs who have signed up to participate but then do not do so. Why? We’ll be conducting what I expect will be a reasonably large scale quantitative research project, and also consulting them in a qualitative setting. By the time of our annual Conference in May we’ll have processed the results and will present an action plan to the Membership. Alongside that we will of course be acting on other initiatives, making recommendations on what we can put right ourselves and without the need to consult.

Whether you are a BHBIA member or not, and regardless of your sector specialism, what would you ask respondents about their participation in market research? Do you have a hypothesis to test, or pet theories about what we can do (and/or avoid) to improve participation? Do we have an image problem when it comes to attracting new respondents? Do we pay well enough and/or reward in the right ways? What small changes might make a big difference?

Please leave a ‘Comment’ below, or contact me by email (john@firstlineresearch.com). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


John Aitchison, Managing Director, First Line Research and co-Chair BHBIA Response Rate Task Force