Market Research Research Methods

4 Low-Risk Studies for Engaging a New Market Research Partner

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Stephanie Douglass

Sr. Director, Marketing and Operations

You finish reading the report your new market research partner has been working on for 8 weeks and slowly put your head on your desk. 8 weeks. 4 weeks longer than what was agreed…for this. You are disappointed. Not only is the report late, but there’s nothing new to share with your stakeholders, no clear answer as to what to do next. This is going to look bad. You stuck your neck out to give these guys a chance and now you are left with a pile of….

We get it. It’s a huge risk to try out a new market research firm. There are tons of unknowns and your business needs insights to make decisions that move it forward. There’s no time (or money) to waste on bad research.

To help ease the transition, we’ve thought of 4 low-risk market research studies that could help you get to know a new partner.  These were identified because they are generally less than $15,000 and will help you decide whether to pursue larger studies with this vendor.

1. Ranking exercise

Why Low Risk: Ranking exercises are quick, cheap and important. In addition, the deliverable is fairly straightforward.

What it reveals about the market research partner: There are tons of ways to execute a ranking exercise, from Standard Competition Ranking to MaxDiff.  Asking a research firm to put together a proposal for a ranking exercise can be revealing. Did the firm’s recommendation demonstrate an understanding of your business and category? Were they able to work within your budget? Did they recommend above and beyond the ask?

On the tail end of the project ask yourself, do you feel confident in the results? Why? Is there anything this firm did that you haven’t seen before?

2. Omnibus

Why Low Risk: For obvious reasons having a potential market research partner execute an omnibus for you is pretty low risk. It’s inexpensive, easy to repeat and quick.

What it reveals about the market research partner: In the same way that a ranking exercise can demonstrate how a firm understands your business; asking for an omnibus proposal will quickly allow an under-the-hood glimpse into how creative the research firm is and how your account would be serviced.

Did you know how much you can get out of one question in an omnibus? We were recently tasked with this exact challenge and were able to generate tons of insights from an omnibus survey.

3. Quick qualitative insights

Why Low Risk: Not too long ago, qualitative research took what seemed like ages to execute. These days, we no longer have to wait patiently for weeks worth of focus groups to end. Qualitative research has moved online, and the digital nature of these studies keep them transparent. Engaging, iterative communities and video studies allow for quick open-ended qualitative data that is always valuable.

What it reveals about the market research partner: Getting robust information in a short amount of time is difficult. Whether conducting a video study or sprint community, the best way to get the most out of these exercises is to have a stellar guide. If your research partner is short-changing the guide process, you can bet your insights will be shortchanged as well.
Additionally, how your partner packages the video output – is it incorporated into a presentation or is it stand-alone – and it’s ability to engage and enlighten will tell you about their video expertise and story-telling abilities.

4. Secondary research or “desk” research

Why Low Risk: If the scope of the ask is limited, secondary research is an in-expensive activity that demonstrates a research partner’s category knowledge and strategic thinking. Your organization is always looking for the next new trend – why not ask a research group to see what they can come up with?

What it reveals about the market research partner: Once again, the proposal process for this project can be telling. Did the research firm assume they knew what you were looking for and jump in head-first? When approaching secondary research, it’s as important to understand what is known as it is what knowledge the client is seeking.

Additionally, how successful was the research partner at combining all of their disparate findings into a cohesive report that will set you up for success in the next phase of research?

Besides clearly demonstrating category expertise, this exercise can give insight into the company culture. Did the firm go above and beyond? Did they employ any additional points of view or analysis techniques? MDRG often incorporates online anthropology into our secondary research studies. This allows the socio-cultural context of the topic to come out and incorporates what consumers are actually doing and saying about a category, brand,  or product in their native digital environments.

Discovering your next market research partner

These are just a few market research studies that cover a broad range of topics and questions. The key to the execution of a “trial” study is that you get a good understanding of whether the pitch and the execution of the work match up. From strategic thinking to level of service, a small study is a great way to try out a new partner and see if the chemistry extends beyond the pitch team.

Contact us to plan your next research project.

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