We’ve heard researchers claim that it’s unproductive to interview during the week between Christmas and New Years’ Day, while others pay no attention to such “mundane” matters. So, to help answer the question, RTi conducted a small, high-incidence (household purchase decision-makers), online survey during the holiday week last year. We treated this project as we would any other to achieve a dispersion of interviews across weekdays/weekend and also to achieve the desired census breaks for region, age, and gender.
What happened? Well, all 300 interviews were completed in the scheduled week without any problem. But, the response rate was significantly lower than for a similar incidence and survey length during non-holiday time (1.4% vs. ~5%).
Implications? We’d suggest holding off on any low-incidence or limited sample studies where response rate is especially important. This would definitely include consumer research conducted with typically finite customer lists.
Finally, experience (and common sense) directs us to consider:
- Is the subject matter seasonally time sensitive?
- Is there potential for the holiday period to present “atypical” product use or opinions?
- Is this a tracker or will the results be compared with other studies from other periods? If it’s the latter, then the question of respondent comparability needs to be considered.
Whether it’s the last week of the year, or major holiday time, you need a research partner you can depend on to raise the right questions on the appropriateness and potential implications for interviewing versus waiting until after the holiday. ‘Tis the season, but is it the right season for you? RTi has been addressing issues of timing for more than 30 years.