Things You Need to Know About Incidence Rate in Market Research

Incidence rate

Incidence rates in market research are vital as they often influence or impact the cost. Since you are here, our guess is you are not too familiar with the whole concept and you want to change this.

Hence, in this article, we will explain incidence rate market research and things you need to know about it. We will be considering how either a high or low IR can impact a market research cost and feasibility. At the end of this article, we hope you would have a clearer understanding of what it all entails.

What is Incidence Rate?

Incidence rate refers to the total sum of respondents gotten from sample pools that qualify for a study. Another phrase for this is qualification rates.

For instance, let us say you have a hundred people that volunteer to partake in a survey, and just 3 qualify for the survey after a screening is done based on the criteria you have. In this case, the incidence rate is just 3 percent.

A 100 percent IR is usually generated during general population surveys where everybody in the sample pool would qualify for the study. Due to this, IR doesn’t apply to client and customer surveys. This is because the survey will be typically sent to the customers via email and everyone that gets the email inherently qualifies for the survey.

But, let us say you decide to make a survey and only those that have patronized your store during the past 5 months would qualify for it. In this case, the IR will no longer be 100 percent as not all of your customers will qualify for it.

Again, let us say the market research is targeted at just females; the IR will drop from a hundred percent to half that is just 50 percent. If your target is more specific, let’s say females with kids that are under 18, the IR will reduce even more and can become even lesser than 20 percent. You can visit to learn more about market surveys.

Market Research and IR

Now, that you know what IR means, you may be wondering how this influences market research. Well, it is simple. Incidence rates are used by panel companies to estimate just how easy or difficult reaching the audience would be. It also helps them make estimates of the respondents that are eligible for the survey.


When the IR is low, additional work will have to be put in for the completed survey to be gathered. Also, there most likely will be additional costs; ultimately, the expense of the overall project will be higher. The extra cost is often due to the difficulty of gathering several completed surveys from a small-targeted audience.

When the IR is below 5 percent, in most cases, panel companies will rule the research as being too risky. Low IRs can be quite telling. An incidence rate below 5 percent may make the market research unfeasible. Hence, loosening your screening criteria can help to increase your audience, feasibility, as well as lower costs.

If you want a highly targeted audience like B2B, then know that the cost will be more. For most panel companies, the pools for B2B are much smaller than that of B2C. When specific roles or titles are targeted, the IR most likely will significantly drop.

How to Increase IR

Since we now know that a low IR is not so great, it’s important to figure out how to increase it to avoid the pitfalls of a low one. Below are some of the ways you can increase your IR:

1. Better Targeting

Let us assume your target is for people below 30 years and the Date of Birth is in the database file. You can send the invites to only those that were birthed after a particular year. This way, your IR won’t just increase, but you will also be ensuring your customers get an improved experience by avoiding disqualifications.

2. More Flexible Quotas

If you need to set up quotas that would ensure several audiences are represented, then you need to be more flexible with it. When the quota is flexible, you would allow oversampling.

3. Be Less Strict With the Screening Criteria

Do not be too stringent with the screening criteria. Assuming you wish to study people who patronize your store, instead of making your criteria people that use the store one time in a week, stretch it instead to at least once in 2 weeks or even a month. By doing this, the people that would qualify for the study will be more.

This however doesn’t mean you should not screen your respondents correctly. You can visit here to get more tips on how to screen respondents.


In this article, we have looked at some important aspects of IR. We have considered what exactly it is and how it is used in market research. We believe all that has been discussed in this article has given you a clearer understanding of incidence rates and how it works.

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