All marketing research data collection partners are not equal, especially when you are conducting CLTs (central location tests) and iHUTs (in-home use tests). CLTs and iHUTS often require a larger sample for quantitative results. They also tend to be very complex – fielding with a large number of people in one or more settings locally or nationally. While most data collection partners will say they can do these types of projects, it makes sense to delve deeper and ensure that you are choosing the right partner for your project.
Here are some potential red flags to look out for when you are selecting your research partner:
- What’s their experience with consumer quantitative?
How many years have they been in business? Ask them how many CLTs or iHUTs were completed in the last year and precisely what different types of CLTs and iHUTs. Over the past year, the pandemic has forced many changes in the data collection industry, so make sure they are well versed in conducting the type of project you need.
- Are they part of the Marketing Research establishment?
Are they listed in directories (i.e., Greenbook, Quirks)? Are they members of the Insights Association or another similar association? Directories and association membership are not guarantees of excellence, but not having those credentials is another red flag.
- Do they know the lingo?
If they ask you, “What’s a CLT?” or “What’s an iHUT?” – run! And that goes for other commonly used acronyms as well.
- Do they seem familiar with CLTs and iHUTs?
Can they easily and quickly give you the number of sessions they would need to meet your quota – and it seems realistic – you are on the right track, However, if you ask them how many people they can seat and they can only seat 8, they are probably using their focus group room, and they may not be appropriately set up to conduct CLTs and iHUTs.
- Can they quickly give you CLT and iHUT-specific references?
The operative word here is quickly. IF CLTs and iHUTs are a regular part of the business operations, they will give you references very quickly – because they do it all the time. You might or might not check their references, but if they can’t give them to you quickly, that is a major red flag.
- Do they have to rent all kinds of equipment to get the job done?
A company that frequently conducts CLT projects will have invested in the typically needed equipment and will not need to rent any.
- What does their pricing look like?
If their proposal looks like a typical qualitative research proposal (e.g., focus groups or in-depth interviews), the firm probably does not understand what they are getting into with a CLT or HUT you might want to give them a pass.
- What does their facility look like?
Their facility layout should be on their website, or you can ask for their floorplan. Check to make sure they have the room you need. If you need to use their kitchen, make sure they have the necessary equipment for your project.
- Do they offer creative suggestions for recruiting low-incidence or hard-to-find people?
A data collection partner who has conducted many CLT and iHUT projects will understand how to find the people you need and have a process for making sure those people show up. Be sure to ask them about it before you get into the recruiting.
- How are they staffed?
A good CLT or iHUT data collection partner will have a strong Project Management function. Ask them about their staff experience – again, specifically with CLT or iHUT project similar to yours.
Finding the optimal data collection partner is essential to the success of any CLT or iHUT project. Remember, even if they say they can check them out thoroughly. You’ll be glad you did when you save time, money, and anxiety throughout the project.