In addition to conducting qualititative market research on consumer goods and shopper behaviour we also frequently work on a range of projects which seek to understand complex social issues or sensitive subjects. As a fieldwork supplier we often relish the opportunity to work on these projects as they require a slightly different approach to the work we do.
We were recently asked by a research agency to assist them with one such project. The research was exploring the issues of relationship breakdown, the various factors involved when families separate and what, if any, support services had been accessed either during or after such a life-changing incident. The client wanted to speak to wide range of people, including low social grades and ethnic minorities, whose relationships had broken down for a variety of reasons. Some of these included relationships ending due to infidelity, a lack of intimacy, or for financial reasons.
When working on this project our team were acutely aware of how important it was to consider how best to approach such a sensitive topic with potential participants. We worked closely with our client and liaised with our team to ensure that all parties were fully briefed on the finer details of the project before commencing recruitment.
We’re also fortunate in that we are able to work with our in-house recruitment team, who have an active database of over 100,000 participants that have all opted in for research and are engaged and enthusiastic. They were able to tailor their approach to the project, emphasising the importance of the research in shaping the way future support services could be delivered or accessed. This meant that the participants who applied to take part were enthusiastic about sharing their experiences, knowing that it would help others in their situation.
We were overwhelmed by the response to this project with many people throughout the UK coming forward to share their experiences of personal trauma and relationship breakdown. We were able to recruit participants from a variety of backgrounds ensuring that the client was able to get detailed picture on the varying experiences of a variety of people. It was gratifying, for all those involved, that we were able to contribute to something as important as this.
Acumen were contacted by the Greater London Authority to help find participants for a quantitative research project on how people from marginalised groups and communities accessed support services for issues relating to employment. The GLA specifically wanted to speak to low-paid workers and migrant workers – people who are usually underrepresented in research. The purpose of the research was to understand the levels of awareness of employment rights amongst those groups and also to gain an understanding of what barriers they faced when trying to access relevant services.
We were aware that the lack of engagement with institutions amongst these demographics would be a significant barrier to our usual research recruitment methods. We overcame this by working with local community groups, snowballing recruitment and explaining the research process in detail to try to allay any suspicions about the nature of the research. Through this we were able to recruit a full range of backgrounds, including Vietnamese nail salon workers who were being covered in the news at the time about the issue of modern day slavery in their profession.
The dynamic and flexible approach to the recruitment in addition to finding venues which would seem neutral to the participants enabled us to succeed in providing the GLA with participants who met the specific criteria but also had a willingness to share their personal stories and experiences which went to the heart of the initial brief.
As we were working directly with the GLA on this project, it was thrilling to learn that the insights we provided were being used to identify new ways to tackle economic fairness amongst some of London’s most vulnerable workers.
Myles Wilson, who commissioned the research for the GLA said, “Low-paid migrant workers are a particularly challenging and hard-to-reach group so recruitment was a key concern for us when planning this research but Acumen were very proactive and updated us throughout.”
For our work on this Acumen were named as finalists and eventually won the award for Best Data Collection (Face to Face) at the 2018 MRS Operations Awards.