In the course of running your business, you run into questions you can’t answer based on your knowledge or experience. Normally you ask business associates, or try out different scenarios to see what works -- an unofficial kind of market research survey. Occasionally you encounter problems too big to solve on your own, and acquaintances shrug their shoulders. Yet the cost of doing something wrong or not doing anything at all outweighs experts’ price tags.
When you need outside help to get results, find a market research tool to fit. Three areas to consider include:
1. Searching for market research data in the public domain
2. Diving deep into issues with exploratory market research work
3. Broadening your scope through quantitative data collection
Exercise your taxpayer rights while market research data gatheringHow does free sound? Employ Uncle Sam, one of the largest data collection companies, for your market research. The federal government supplements its decennial census with numerous surveys as frequently as every month. While it's limited to national data, regional, state, and local affiliates can break data down to areas closer to home, and it provides a solid baseline to work from.
Consumer Expenditure Survey program combines the quarterly Interview Survey with the Diary Survey to provide information on consumer buying habits, including income and expenditures for both family and individuals. You also can look up the US Census Bureau's Q&A center to quickly find the more popular census searches.
Delve deep with exploratory market researchWhen you're unsure how to even frame a question, start by exploring the issue with qualitative research. The most cost-effective form of qualitative research is the focus group, as you can recruit in a relatively short time frame and get decent results in as little as two groups, often scheduled in one evening. Costs depend on the audience: general consumer groups cost the least both for recruiting and providing participation incentives, while executives and professionals like doctors or lawyers cost the most. Certain topics dealing with sensitive issues might be more difficult to recruit, driving field costs up. Also, don't skimp on the moderator; be willing to pay more for a thoroughly trained moderator.
name Focus 25 derives from the 25 different research strategies they’ve used to help clients find answers. They quote from $3,500 to $7,500 per group, excluding any travel fees. Established in 1985, Market Trends Research conducts both in-person and online focus groups ranging from a base of $4,000 for consumer groups to $5,000 for professional groups.
Listen to the customer's voice through data collection in market researchOnce you've explored the topic and caught the audience's vocabulary, build a questionnaire and test these findings in the general population under study. Costs vary the most in quantitative research, depending on several factors such as how many people you want to talk to (fewer if you want to survey the general population, more if you want to drill down into segments) or the complexity of the topic you want to talk about. Quantitative surveys can cost as little as $5,000 and run over $150,000. Budget five figures for a comprehensive survey using a full-service firm to include professional hours for up-front consultation, analysis and final presentation. If you desire to write your own survey, provide the contact information of the people you want to talk to, and analyze the results on your own, you can save money by shopping out the questionnaire and target list to a market research data collection company that focuses exclusively on the interview process.
- Market research data companies at times quote a project on a Cost Per Interview (CPI) basis. Don't extrapolate from that figure if you change specifications. If you add on eligibility requirements or even ask for more completed interviews without a corresponding sample increase to draw from, the effort and labor hours required to execute these change orders will affect the CPI.