Research in B2B markets often poses significant challenges in terms of recruiting the right testers and respondents: they are often scarce, very busy, might be based anywhere in the world, and consequently are hard to reach.

  • Background

    Sony Pro is one our long term B2B clients who we’ve been working with since 2010. Sony Pro sells a range of products and solutions for a diverse range of markets such as broadcast media, video security, medical electronic equipment, digital cinema, and organisations requiring AV equipment for a variety of applications. The role of the website is to give customers enough information to make them feel there is a product or solution right for them, and then get the customer to contact Sony or a distributor.

  • What we did

    We have undertaken a number of projects for Sony including usability testing on both the live site and prototype pages, user research to get better insight into what content and functionality customers want on the web site, and information architecture development and testing. So we’ve ended up recruiting people as diverse as:

    • inside and outside broadcast cameramen who’ve done filming for subjects like natural history, news, live sport
    • people in security companies responsible for identifying suitable video products and solutions for security purposes
    • events managers responsible for the AV in museums and large corporate venues
    • people responsible for high-tech electronics in a medical environment
    • managers in cinema chains needing to research new technology and solutions

    These don’t tend to be the sort of people who are routinely sitting on our tester/respondent database, so our recruiters have had to use all their skills in order to find suitable individuals.

    Ideally we then like to get them into the lab to do the research but this isn’t always possible with these types of hard to reach people: they have either been geographically too distant to get to the research studios (in the UK or overseas) or they have been too busy to travel to the studios – they can only let us have the time for the actual research session. In these cases we have done the research remotely where we share a desktop and have an audio link; you lose a bit of the personal rapport that can be achieved face-to-face, but the quality of the outputs are still good and valid.

  • Outcomes

    Web Usability has recruited more than 60 hard to reach testers and respondents for Sony UX research. For other B2B clients we’ve had to recruit electricians or plumbers (easier to find but always really busy), mechanical design engineers, peristaltic pump engineers, large facilities managers (all much more difficult to find): the required profiles are always a bit out of the ordinary. Getting the right testers and respondents for B2B research is critical and usually challenging. However, our recruiters have never let us down.