How to Set the Right Incentive

What is a good incentive amount? How much should I pay the research participants? What’s a good compensation amount for their time?

The incentive (AKA the participant compensation) is what you offer research participant in exchange for their participation in your project. The success of your project’s recruiting directly relates to the incentive you choose to offer, so it’s important to set up the right incentive from the get go! 

  1. A right incentive means more respondents take your screener and you have more respondents to choose from
  2. A right incentive means your recruit will fill more quickly
  3. A right incentive encourages people to show up to your research interview on time.

The average hourly incentive paid on the Respondent platform is $140/hr.

Respondent Recommended Minimum Incentive per Hour: 

Factors to consider when deciding your incentive:

1. Who are you are targeting?

Industry Professionals vs. General Population:
Industry professionals cost more than the General Population because they can provide specialized expertise on a specific topic or subject. When choosing an incentive amount, take into consideration the research participant’s likely hourly rate in their job role or industry. The incentive amount should be at least twice as much as their hourly rate to incentivize them to participate.

United States vs. International
While Respondent has a marketplace presence in over 175 countries, a majority of our members are in the United States. When recruiting internationally, it's imperative to maximize response rate in smaller pools by setting an enticing incentive.

C-Suite, Executives, and Business Owners:
Remember how we said keep in mind how much people make? This is especially important for executives and C-suite level research participants. They will not participate in studies that are not worth their time.

Also, take into consideration the participants' likely availability. For example, small business owners often work longer hours than other employees -- They are more likely to take time out of their busy schedules for projects with higher incentives.

2. What kind of project? 

Interview? Survey? In respondents home? The methodology and type of project that you have will influence how much you should pay participants. Interviews, for example, require a higher incentive to be successful than surveys. 

There are two main things to consider for the type of project: 

In-Person vs. Remote:
In person studies require either time travel time for the research participant, or that you invade their private space (in home or in office interviews). 

For in-home or in-office interviews, many participants will feel the need to tidy-up their home or office, and will take this into consideration when deciding whether the stated incentive is worth their time.

A good base incentive is $200 for in-home interviews with general population lasting 1 hour or less. 

Project Length:
The length of the project should directly reflect the time it will take to complete the project in full. For example, a one hour interview with 30 minutes of pre-interview homework should have an incentive for 90 minutes of work. Similarly, in person research studies should take into account the travel time needed to participate. For example, a one hour interview in person with 30 minutes of travel time each way should have an incentive for two hours of work. 

Additionally, executives, business owners, and medical professionals often have busy schedules and can't take more than 1 hour out for market research. For these individuals, we recommend limiting the session to 60 minutes or less. 

3. How much time do you have for this project?

When people see a high incentive they jump on the opportunity quickly. If you need to fill your study quickly (less than a week), we recommend having a raising your incentive significantly. 

Although the platform permits researchers to increase incentives at any time, participants will not often view a project more than once to determine if it's worth their time. It's particularly important to set an adequate incentive prior to publishing the project.

A more detailed article on how incentives can determine the success of your market research study can be found HERE.


Can I pay via gift cards?
How are the incentives paid out? 

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