Can A 100% Incidence Rate Be Achieved in Online Surveys?

April 24, 2023 Author:

The incidence rate is a crucial element in market research and refers to the proportion of people in a population who meet the selection criteria to participate in a particular study. Various factors must be considered to calculate the incidence rate in online data collection, such as demographic quotas, product or service consumed, consumption frequency, cross-quotas, study complexity and duration.

Do we all calculate incidence the same way?

As discussed in a past blog, incidence is essential in market research because it can significantly impact a study's feasibility and accuracy. If the incidence is very low, recruiting enough participants to obtain meaningful results can be difficult. Additionally, a low incidence can increase the costs and time required to complete a study.

What factors determine incidence?

In market research, demographic data is useful for identifying the target consumer profile and understanding how these factors influence their needs, wants, and purchasing behaviors. They are also useful for segmenting the market into specific groups with similar characteristics, allowing companies to tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to the needs and preferences of each segment.

To estimate the incidence of an online data collection project, it is essential to consider the following points:

  • Demographic quotas such as age, gender, income, education, marital status, occupation, place of residence, among others. Demographic data may also include information about ethnic and racial composition, language, and other socioeconomic and cultural variables that may influence consumer behavior.
  • Product or service consumed.
  • Consumption frequency.
  • Cross-quotas – the most common in data collection are specific quotas for age, gender and socioeconomic level in a particular region.

What is the formula for calculating the incidence rate?

In online market research, the incidence rate can be calculated using the following formula:

IR = (number of cases that meet the desired profile) / (sample size) x 100


"IR" represents the incidence of the variable being measured.

"Number of cases that meet the desired profile" is the number of participants in the sample who meet the inclusion criteria of the research. For example, if researching the use of beauty products among women aged 18 to 35, the number of cases would be the number of women in the sample who meet this criterion and successfully completed the online survey.

"Sample size" refers to the total number of participants who started the online survey.

"100" is used to express incidence as a percentage.

Is it possible to achieve a 100% incidence rate?

A market research project with a 100% incidence rate would mean that all members of the target population meet the inclusion criteria in the study, which is uncommon. However, in specific cases, such as studies involving the entire target population, like a customer satisfaction survey or public opinion survey, there could be an incidence rate close to 100%. But it is still unlikely for the following reasons:

  • Some individuals may not meet the selection criteria.
  • Panelists with the desired profile may not be available to participate in the study.
  • Some individuals may have the desired profile and pass the selection filters in a survey but, for some external reason, must abandon the survey before completing it.
  • Internet connectivity issues may exist, preventing those with the appropriate profile from completing the online survey.
  • If the study has quotas, there may be people with the desired profile who would be disqualified from participating in the study if the quotas have already been achieved.

In summary, considering all factors is essential to correctly calculating incidence in the field. However, if you are uncertain of how to do this or have any other questions about incidence rate, contact us.