How to incentivize Gen Z for Qualitative Research participation?

Sep 15, 2022, Jiten Madia
Ever witnessed a situation where your respondents did not turn up for a focus group or in-depth interview? Not very uncommon.   


Qualitative research participation is not tricky, and much human intervention is added to ensure respondents don't slip through. Even regular research participation is a struggle, but bringing in the newer generations like Gen Z makes it even more challenging.   


A widespread belief is that we can get all kinds of respondents with the right amount of money. While that may not be untrue, research practitioners (field agencies and research agencies) should try to become more creative around participation incentivization.  

Traditional incentivization methods may have the same effect anymore, and research companies need to shift their focus toward incentives more suited to the younger generation.    


Gen Z is a term given to people born in the broad range of the mid to late 90s to early 2010s. The generation has taken the world by storm, with industries changing to fit current trends, and qualitative research is no different. The generation has shown high affiliation towards technology, which industries, including research, must move towards. It is this technology itself that makes it easier to reach the population.   

Here are the things to keep in mind as you target Gen Z respondents:  


1- Show me, but don't show me just money  

Direct money or vouchers are important. A lot of the Gen Z crowd comprises college and school students. Being in that category, they are generally pressed for money, and thus it becomes a great drive in getting them to participate in your research. Vouchers for food or other services also become effective incentives for this sample.   

But money is not the only motivation that works. Rather it's just a mere hygiene factor.  


2- How can I make a difference?  

Another important factor for the generation is knowing how much of an impact their participation could be. Gen Z is active in affecting change, and knowing their contribution can affect research and influence decision-making becomes an incentive geared specifically toward them. Categories that are exciting, like Gaming, Bikes, and sports, might have it easy in this regard, vs. relatively dry categories like finance and telecom might need to put some more effort in this regard. Perhaps telling respondents about broad research objectives may not be bad if the objectives permit.  

3- Be interesting and creative with incentive choices   

The generation of students and collegegoers have specific interests, goals, social values, and ethos. Gearing your research participation incentives might have some positive participation effects. How about providing choices to respondents to donate a partial amount of their incentives to their favorite charity or cause they care about? We can combine different incentives and relate them with larger causes to attract participation and involve purpose.  

4- Alignment   

Don't provide incentives just for the sake of it. Align your offer with the field of work you're going into. The participant needs to come in due to genuine interest and want to help you with your findings. It shouldn't be that the respondent only comes for the incentive and half-heartedly participates in the research, proving your hard work futile. Providing small accessories while doing bike or car research, providing career guidance for tech categories, or consulting on credit rating counseling can be interesting ways of attracting participation. Respondents have to see the value in the offer, so that should remain your guiding principle in designing incentives.  

5- Go to campuses and organize research   

Though not an incentive, increasing Gen Z participation is also by going to campuses and directly interacting with passers-by. Engage them in interesting conversions and link them to your area of research. Once you have established a rapport, you can offer them incentives or ask them to participate directly in your study.   

6- Go Digital  

For a technologically dependent society, it also becomes imperative to create a system of incentivization that is more transparent, robust, and digitized. When you can assure the respondent that incentives are automatically processed, respondents will feel more assured about receiving incentives and will be more motivated to participate.  


To summarize, as research practitioners, we need to find more ways to touch and address deeper and more intrinsic ways to ensure participation and move beyond using human intervention and money as key levers. GenZ is a difficult target audience, and we might need to introspect and revisit our processes. After all, we are in a consumer intimacy business. And as consumer intimacy practitioners, we must apply our consumer intimacy learnings while designing processes for the research industry.   


About us:  

flowres is a new-age online qualitative research platform aiming to improvise qualitative research execution by bringing in execution efficiencies. We are currently working on launching an automated system for incentive distribution where research participation can be compensated in a few clicks. This makes distribution more efficient, digitized, process driven, transparent, and assured. Feel free to reach out to [email protected] to learn more about this solution or see it in action. 

Jiten Madia
Sep 15, 2022