6 Lessons Learned from Intercept Interview Experience

Intercept interviewing is an all too often forgotten data collection strategy in today's high-tech environment. But this lost market research art form provides two very important and unique advantages. First of all, this data collection methodology has the ability to reach a highly targeted sample (especially at trade shows) and be incredibly random at the same time. Second, intercept surveys offer a relatively unending supply of sample. You simply determine where your target population will be and go there to talk to them. In our recent case, that meant renting a booth at a trade show full of attendees meeting our participant profile.

Once you have formulated your intercept interview strategy and survey, it is all a matter of execution. However, that execution can be challenging, especially for first-timers. Recently our newest project manager experienced qualitative intercept interviewing for the first time, and it certainly was an education for her. Here are 6 of her observations and lessons learned.

  1. It's easy to make initial contact, but harder to ask for participation. Most outgoing individuals find it relatively easy to say hello to strangers, but it's much more difficult to ask someone to give you 10 minutes of their time. Just know in advance you will be turned down more times than not and don't take it personally.
  2. It's easier to gain willing participants when your booth is already full of respondents. Prospective participants can be persuaded to participate more easily when they see other people have also been persuaded. Think of it as "herd" mentality.
  3. Potential participants are leery about you using "research" as a sneaky sales tactic. Unfortunately we all have experienced or heard about organizations using "research" as a guise for other sales-oriented activities. All you can do in this situation is assure a prospective participant that this is not the case. They will either take you at your word and decide to participate, or they will decline and move on.
  4. Use participant personalities to attract additional respondents.  At times difficult participant personalities can be used to your advantage. For example, you can encourage a boisterous, even obnoxious participant to convince his or her colleagues to participate.
  5. It's hard to keep respondents' attention while verbally administering the survey. The solution is to craft the most engaging interview script as possible and try to keep participants' line of vision free from distractions.
  6. It's hard to turn away unqualified participants. There is nothing more frustrating for an intercept interviewer than recruiting a willing participant, only to determine they are not qualified to participant. We have to keep in mind our ultimate goal, collecting quality data, and let the willing, yet unqualified participant go. Sometimes it's helpful to have a small "consolation" gift like a piece of candy. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

On-site, face-to-face interviewing can be a wonderful experience and a powerful data collection tool. Keep these six lessons learned in mind next time you find yourself at a trade show trying to convince attendees to stop and participate in your research study.

If you are interested in learning more about employing intercept interviews to meet your organization's market research needs, please contact Strategic Marketing Services.