FEATURE8 January 2024

Impact Report: Meeting people where they are

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Features Impact Inclusion People Trends

Research with seldom heard and niche populations – people who have historically not been heard from, misunderstood, or, in the case of niche research, have something uncommon in common – requires creative, flexible approaches and a willingness to immerse. Rob Gray reports


Reaching the right people at the right time is a crucial tenet of good research practice. But over the years, the research industry has sometimes struggled, and often come up short, when seeking to understand and include the views of niche and seldom-heard groups.

In this report, we explore various challenges around identifying the right people in the first place and highlight some creative approaches taken by practitioners. Before we get on to that, however, a couple of points regarding terminology.

To begin with, the rise of the phrase ‘seldom heard’. Until recently, the sector generally talked about the struggle to engage with ‘hard to reach’ audiences. Increasingly, the language has been reframed as ‘seldom heard’, rightly placing the onus for inclusion on the researcher and the research buyer, not the participant.

Second, although seldom-heard and niche participants may share some characteristics and challenges, they are not the same thing. ‘Niche’ is where a research project specifically wants to speak to people who ...