Market Research Company

How to Find the Best Market Research Company: Your Complete Guide

Did you know that market research can be a key way to gain a deeper understanding of your customers and your competitors?

Using market research also allows you to visualize and collect relevant data, find ways to grow your business, and avoid closure by staying ahead of the curb.

But, it can be hard to find the best market research company to fit your business needs.

Luckily, there are a few key ways to discover and commit to a company that has your best interests in mind.

Read on to learn five guiding principles for choosing a market research firm.

Top Ways to Find a Great Market Research Company

One of the most profitable parts of market research is gap analysis, which requires a full understanding of your business and industry.

The gaps in the market are the things that customers want, but you and your competitors aren't giving them.

This is why market research is so important and profitable in the long run. Here are five methods for picking a company that can help you optimize your offerings.

1. Choose a Flexible Company

You want a company that will meet your needs, not the other way around. Finding a flexible company is the key to customizing your research plan.

One-size-fits-all approaches can be difficult because they won't necessarily get at the exact questions you feel are relevant.

Therefore, look for a company that discusses their research methodologies in-depth with you, and is willing to adapt them as needed.

2. Understand Their Action-Plan

It is important to know the actionable parts of the marketing research firm once the research is completed.

The last thing you want is to be left with lots of data, and no one to help you understand it.

The right company will help you visualize the data and turn it into action, with specific recommendations based on the feedback they received.

3. Seek Information on Their Methods

The methodology can vary widely, both based on the type of market research firm, and on your questions.

Ask exactly how they collect their data, and what types of additional methodologies could be used to ensure the most accurate answers.

4. Consider Cost-Effectiveness

Always be upfront about your budget and expectations, as this can avoid more issues down the road. The best company will be honest with you about their ability to work with your budget, and you can determine if what they offer is worth the investment.

5. Ask About Their Relevant Experience

It is often a good idea to pick a firm that has experience in your industry, as they will likely be able to understand the audience and customers better from the get go.

Review any recent testimonials and references from similar clients, and consider reaching out to them directly if you are able to for an honest review.

Use Market Research to Dominate Your Industry

Using a market research company is key to staying ahead in all circles of business.

While the results are not always what you expect, they help you provide the tailored experience and product line that your customers crave.

Ready to talk to an expert about the untapped opportunities for your business? Contact us today to learn more about our market research offerings.


market research report

Know Your Audience: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Market Research Report

Did you know the revenue of the market research industry exceeded 45.8 billion in 2017?

It's not a surprise this number is so high. After all, companies want to engage with their audience to understand their need and provide the products they're looking for.

The best way to get to the bottom of it is by creating a market research report. In, this article, we'll go through the basics of how to create a market research report.

Who is Your Buyer?

The first step when you want to create your market research report is to identify who your buyer persona is. As you think about who your buyer persona is, you need to identify who your dream customer is.

If you have trouble visualizing who your persona is, think about the following factors that determine it:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Job industry
  • Family Size
  • Challenges
  • Income

The more information you have about them, the easier it will be to compile the information.

Select the Focus Group

Now that you have identified your client's persona, then it's time you narrow it down. As helpful as it would be to talk to everyone, you need to select a focus group.

These are the people that you will be reaching out to to get their input. The purpose of engaging them is to find out their characteristics, buying habits, and any specific challenges they might face.

You should be able to meet with them via in-person focus groups, online surveys, and/or phone interviews.

Prepare the Research Questions

You need to make the most out of your conversation with your focus group, which is why it's extremely important you're prepared.

For starters, start by giving your buyers a little bit of background information. Then, you need to talk to them about awareness -- when did they realize they had a need for the particular product.

The next step is to ask them about how they decided to solve their challenge. Make sure every question you ask is open-ended.

Engage Your Participants

Once you're are ready to ask those questions, you need to engage your participants. The best way to do so is by reaching out to your current customers.

Start by pulling a list of all of your customers who make a purchase in the last few months. You also want to engage those who didn't make a purchase.

Other ways to reach people is by adding an incentive or try to engage participants on social media.

Make a List of Competitors

Part of putting together a market research report is understanding who your competitors are. Learn the basics about your competitors by identifying the industry, the content, and any other relevant information.

Summarize the Findings

The last thing you need to do is summarize your findings. If you find the information overwhelming, try to break it down by sections.

For example, the background -- why did you decide to conduct the study. You can also summarize in sections such as participants, competitors, awareness, challenges, action plan, and more.

Making a Market Research Report: The Bottom Line

Now that you know the basics about creating a market research report, you're ready to conduct your own.

Remember to identify your buyer persona, select a focus group, prepare the research questions, and engage your buyers.

Want to learn more about the differences between digital marketing vs traditional marketing in 2019, check out this article.


Why Market Research Fails

Successfully implementing a market research strategy can have vast benefits for companies of all sizes; however, market research blunders are easy to make and can have long-lasting negative consequences for your business. We’re commonly asked, “Why does market research fail?” and the truth is there’s not usually a singular reason. Sometimes companies make one major mistake that fundamentally flaws their research, but making a series of smaller errors is sometimes just as damaging. Taking some time to thoughtfully prepare a market research strategy, and strictly adhering to the fundamentals of implementing research, can help you avoid making major mistakes while launching a market research project.

Below, we’ve listed some of the mistakes commonly made by market research agencies. If you’re afraid your market research will fail, carefully avoid the following blunders:

Using the Wrong Methods

Sometimes teams decide to use the research method that is easiest but not necessarily the best. It’s usually tempting to choose the “convenient” method of data collection, but if that method is ineffective for the target population then that data is probably useless.

For example, many companies launch internet surveys in place of doing onsite surveys or interviews. Internet surveys are sometimes cheap and effective, but they can also be terribly inefficient if you have no reliable way to guarantee survey participation. Similarly, companies will sometimes hold focus groups to talk with many customers at once in a public – and this can be an effective means of collecting market data – but some topics are too personal/intimate to discuss in person (think sex, love, or happiness) and your customers might prefer the anonymity of an online interview.

Further, companies sometimes expect too much from interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Realistically, there are many questions that are better answered by performing more “immersive” research – such as participant observation or video-ethnography.

Asking the wrong questions

Designing interview/survey questions that are appropriate for your research can be tricky. Questions can be “wrong” for many reasons. Sometimes questions are too broad, sometimes they’re too specific. An open-ended question that’s too broad will result in the interviewee rambling on about a number of issues not specific to your research topic. Conversely, questions that are too specific will result in people giving brief one-word responses. Similarly, close-ended questions sometimes result in participants being “pigeon-holed” into choosing an answer that does not reflect their beliefs or feelings on a topic.

Talking to the wrong people

Recruiting participants to participate in your study is one of the most difficult aspects of any market research study, and it’s especially difficult to recruit a representative sample of your target audience. For example, it might be really easy to find study participants that love your company, but it’s sometimes difficult to find people that hate your product/service; however, in the name of good research, it’s important to talk with both of these groups if you stand any chance of understanding why people love/hate your product.

Poor Interviewer Skills

Novice or untrained individuals can often generate inaccurate or biased interview data. Most commonly, interviewers unintentionally bias participant responses by “leading” people to conclusions they wouldn’t have otherwise made. For example, an interviewer’s tone or word choice might “lead” an interviewee to answer in a way they think the interviewer wants/expects. There are a number of similar nuanced mistakes that can be made, and stopping this from happening at the ground level is generally dependent on good training and a foundation in research methods.

Faulty Data Management

For every hour of data collection, there are many more hours of data management. Faulty data management tactics can sometimes inadvertently ruin entire projects. There are a number of methods for meticulously inputting, cleaning, interpreting, and sharing data. Attention to detail is crucial in data management; don’t let laziness cause your market research to fail.

Doing Too Little

In an effort to make market research less-costly, companies frequently attempt to rush studies. This results in market research studies with narrow-minded designs and small sample sizes. Attempting to make business decisions based on low-quality studies can be difficult, and at times it can lead to disastrous results. Efforts to keep studies cost-effective are obviously important, but being too stringent can cause your market research to be inefficient and counterproductive.

Ignoring the results of your research

Companies have to be willing to accept what market research tells them – even if they don’t necessarily like the results of their own research.

Kodak Camera Company is a classic example. In the early days of digital photography, Kodak actually produced a significant amount of market research suggesting that digital cameras would be popular and convenient; however, because the company was so invested in producing paper photographs, they decided to shelve their digital camera products. Failing to adapt to the market, despite what their market research was consistently telling them, has obviously resulted in multi-billion dollar losses to Kodak. In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious what Koda should have done, but the reality is that companies are often set in their ways and choose to ignore market research.

The Single Reason

Commonly, research fails because agencies choose to do what is convenient – they pick the “easiest” methods, ask poorly designed questions, and recruit participants that don’t reflect the target audience – rather than taking the extra effort to collect data that is pertinent to business decisions. The easiest way to avoid making these mistakes is by sticking to the basics of conducting good research – become scientifically literate regarding the research methods that are commonly employed, choose the methods that are best for your research questions, fully commit to the entire research process (including data management), and dig in for the work ahead.


Summer Market Sign

Barriers Preventing Market Research for Outdoor Retailers

Despite the importance of market research, some small or medium sized businesses don’t collect primary research; in the outdoor industry, this seems to be particularly true. Large outdoor retailers such as Patagonia, North Face, Arc'teryx, and REI all perform their own market research studies, but many medium-sized brands fail to take advantage of consumer behavior research. This is a shame because market research is a simple way to develop the insights necessary to make a company truly successful.

So if market research is so important for outdoor retail companies, why do so many medium-sized outdoor retailers fail to conduct their own market research? Based on our experience, there are a few things that commonly prevent companies from conducting their own research. We’ve listed these barriers below, and we make a few suggestions for how companies can overcome these common obstacles:

The “I Know My Industry” Mindset

Outdoor retail companies are largely founded and managed by individuals that love their industry. This is fantastic because a love of the outdoors (something we personally possess) has driven the start-up of many great out-door retail businesses. That being said, when people build a business surrounding something they love, they start to assume they know exactly what that industry needs. Runners assume they know what type of shoe other runners needs, climbers assume other mountaineers climb like they do, etc.

While being personally invested in the products your company develops can lead to great innovations, it can also generate great biases in the products your company produces. Market research allows business owners to take a step back and evaluate the thoughts/feelings/opinions of their customers from a different perspective. In the case of outdoor retail, it allows companies to develop the products people truly want, rather than assuming they know what other outdoorsy individuals might need.

 

Lack of Understanding/Technical Skill

People naturally veer away from things that they don’t understand. If you work in outdoor retail, you probably love the outdoors and know a lot about being in the wilderness; further, if you’re a business owner, you likely know a lot about managing businesses. That being said, you probably don’t know much about how to conduct primary research. Therefore, market research is a trip outside the comfort zone for many small/medium business owners.

This does not mean that market research isn’t useful for outdoor retail businesses. Quite the contrary, we argue that market research is an important tool for growing your businesses from a small/medium size into a fortune 500 giant. The fundamental issue is that medium-sized businesses shy away from doing things that seem unfamiliar to them. Conducting research is its own set of skills and knowledge that often times takes many years to develop. Considering the importance of market research in the business world, unfamiliarity with a concept should not prevent market research from occurring.

For businesses that don’t have the technical expertise or personnel to conduct market research the solution is simple, hire a market research firm to do the work for you. That fundamental truth leads us to the last barrier that prevents companies from conducting market research projects: project costs.

 

Money

The cost associated with conducting market research sometimes feels difficult to overcome, but most businesses owners don’t consider the opportunity that’s afforded by conducting “expensive” research (which sometimes costs as little as 5-10k). While market research might feel pricey at the time it’s conducted, it’s important that business owners remember research is a long-term investment that more than pays itself back over time. Businesses commonly spend tens of thousands of dollars developing ineffective products, or they waste money on marketing campaigns directed at the wrong demographics. Market research keeps companies from making costly blunders, helps interpret company images, and contributes to designing products that people actually want.

Admittedly, massive market research companies can be too expensive for small or medium-sized businesses. For smaller businesses that have a limited research budget, we recommend that you seek out a small or medium-sized research firm.

 

The Real Cost

Above, we’ve highlighted three things that commonly prevent small and medium-sized businesses from conducting market research, especially businesses involved in the outdoor retail industry. Business owners commonly feel that they know everything about their industry, and therefore they do not feel the need to conduct market research; we’ve argued that this perception is false because assuming you know everything about your industry creates biases and prevents you from connecting to lucrative demographics that might be interested in your business. Further, many business owners shy away from conducting market research because they simply don’t understand it; this doesn’t mean that business owners should prevent themselves from harnessing all the benefits of market research, they just need to consider contracting individuals that have that expertise. Finally, some outdoor retail businesses feel that research is not worth the monetary investment; never forget that consumer behavior research has the potential to save companies immensely more money than it costs.

In short, if you run a small or medium-sized business that does not currently engage in market research, you’re not taking full advantage of all the tools available to help grow your business.


What Do I Need for Market Research?

Market research can be a daunting undertaking, especially for small- or medium-sized business owners that don’t have experience with conducting their own research. We’re commonly asked by business owners what they need for market research and our answer is always “it depends.”

 

The specific needs of your market research will greatly depend on the type of information that will benefit your business. Depending on the size and breadth of your study, you might not need much in terms of technology – but you will always need a lot of human capital. That being said, there are a few tried and true staples that are beneficial in all market research projects.

 

Below are a few important things for launching any successful market research project:

 

Questions & Goals

Before you can effectively launch any type of market research initiative, it’s necessary to have a firm understanding of what your business is trying to learn/achieve. Before beginning any project, it’s necessary to be able to clearly articulate your specific research questions. Without developing specific questions, research often becomes tangential and useless at building a better business.

 

Develop Specific Research Methods

Research methods are simply a very specific set of plans that designate how the research will be conducted. After you’ve developed your questions, it’s time to develop very specific methods. Research is not the time to shoot from the hip or initiate half-cocked plans. Every good market

research strategy requires a specific set of plans or methods for collecting and interpreting data.

Having well-defined methods in place will guarantee that you’re collecting the proper data to answer your questions, and will maximize the value of conducting research.

 

An Experienced Team and/or Team Leader

Market research sometimes appears to be simple; however, just because something looks simple it doesn’t mean that it’s actually easy. Having a research team that’s experienced, primarily composed of individuals that have received professional training, will ensure that you’re collecting valid data.

 

There are many tiny nuances that can greatly impact your data collection; we recommend that you speak with an expert, but if you’re eager to learn more on your own you should consider picking up a book on market research or behavioral science methods. Paying for an experienced team might be costly upfront, but it will be beneficial to your bottom line in the long run.

 

Participants

If you want to do any kind of primary data collection—such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc.—you’re going to need to find people to participate in those projects. Participant recruitment can be the trickiest part of your data collection. Never forget, it’s important that you do your best to capture a representative sample of your target customer. If your customers are females aged 34-40, your participants should fall into that category; similarly, if your primary customers are outdoor runners, then you need to include runners from a variety of different backgrounds.

 

As a rule of thumb, descriptive surveys require 100+ participants, while descriptive interviews will require 30+ participants. But these are just the minimums, the more people participate in your study the more data you will have!

 

Software

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Computer software has made life easier for many aspects of data collection and interpretation. For example, if you want to launch an online survey there are several software packages to consider (Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, etc.), for focus groups you can use transcription software, and for secondary data analysis, there’s software that can help you sort through big data.

 

That being said, some of these software packages are not user-friendly and can be expensive for small businesses to afford. If you foresee your business regularly conducting market research, investing in these software packages can be extremely beneficial.

 

Location

The old saying “location, location, location” has never been truer. If you’re collecting data in person, you need to pick a location that provides you access to an accurate sampling of your target audience. Oftentimes, unless you’re running a small study, it’s necessary to collect data at multiple locations to accurately reflect your target customers. Admittedly, negotiating for access to venues can be difficult, but it’s important that you don’t settle on subpar locations.

 

If you’re launching an online study that doesn’t require a physical location, you still need to think

about when/where/how the link to your study can be distributed. Oftentimes, businesses indiscriminately e-mail blast everyone they can possibly put on a list. This approach will get you results sometimes, but oftentimes businesses benefit from a more thoughtful distribution process.

 

Patience

Patience is a necessary virtue when conducting research. Remember, data collection is something that occurs over time. Small studies sometimes generate information that is immediately groundbreaking, but oftentimes market research requires some time to understand the bigger picture. Don’t get focused on preliminary findings that only explain the tip of an iceberg, have the patience to let research develop and tell the whole story.

 

So, what are the things you need for market research? To start, you need to develop specific questions that are beneficial for your business. Good questions form the foundation for great research. Be concise and specific while developing your research methodology, this will prevent you from going off track and developing useless data. After that, all you need is a solid team of researchers to find participants that are relevant to your business. There’s also a variety of software that will assist in processing the data from your market research, it’s often worth the investment to save you time in the long-run.

 

But at the end of the day, all you really need for market research is people. Never forget, human capital is the cornerstone of all research.


7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Market Research Agency

A cursory Google search will reveal dozens, and potentially hundreds, of market research agencies vying for your business. This is why choosing a market research agency can be difficult. It is especially difficult if your company does not have anyone who has experienced with conducting research.

Narrowing down which agency to choose can be tricky, and there are a number of things to consider when selecting the right one. Price will obviously be a deciding factor for many businesses, but you should never select a company based on price alone. This article is meant to give you an insight into how to choose a market research company.

Below, we’ve listed a number of questions that you should ask your market research agency before signing the contract. If a company doesn’t have adequate answers, move on to the next. There are plenty of other agencies who will be able to find out what you need:

Do the Research

What is your process for designing and implementing research?

Any research firm should be able to walk you through their research process from start to finish. It might not know every detail of what the project is going to entail (yet), but they should be able to easily explain how project design and implementation. It should be apparent who will do the research design, data collection, data analysis, and results collation.

Who will be conducting the physical research?

If you’re considering contracting a research firm, the work history of their employees should not be a secret. It should be very clear what employees are the “boots on the ground” collecting data on behalf of your company, and what makes those individuals qualified to conduct research. You have to feel confident that the research firm you choose has experienced staff that is equipped for the tasks ahead of them. What is your hiring process for choosing research personnel?

Is your firm experienced with conducting research in different cultures? Do you have an example?

Regardless of your company’s location or target audience, it’s important to hire an agency that has worked with diverse demographics. Throughout the course of any study—large or small, researchers encounter individuals from different backgrounds and cultures. If a research team isn’t prepared to account for cross-cultural variation, it’s likely that they will overlook important factors impacting the study being conducted. Further, having a team with cross-cultural experience will help them avoid making potentially offensive mistakes while representing your company.

Don’t be afraid to ask for an example of a company’s cross-cultural experience. There’s a big difference between researchers that have a theoretical understanding of cross-cultural work and those that have actual real-world experience working abroad in different environments.

Can I have access to the raw data as the study progresses?

It’s important that the consulting firm you choose is transparent with all the steps of the research process. Part of that transparency is giving you access to the raw data whenever want to see it. Even if you’re not highly skilled in scrubbing or analyzing data, having access to the raw figures is a way to stay involved and keep the market research team honest with their work.

What is your data cleaning process?

Many good studies have been ruined by poor data management. It’s certainly not the most exciting aspect of conducting research, but it is extremely important. All data needs to be “cleaned” or “scrubbed”. Cleaning data most commonly entails looking for duplicate data, scanning the data for unusual or unexplained outliers, and carefully logging any changes or corrections that might need to be made to the data. Data cleaning can be extremely tedious and not everyone is familiar with how to properly scrub data. For this reason, data cleaning is sometimes skipped over by the research team—this is a terrible mistake and can sometimes have huge consequences for the results of research.

How will the summary of results be presented?

Before you ever sign a contract with a research firm, it should be clear how you will be receiving the results of the study. Companies obviously can’t tell you the results of research that hasn’t been conducted, but it should be clear how you’ll be receiving the final report. Will there be a brief write-up, a slideshow presentation in your office, or a Skype conversation explaining your research outcomes? You need to discuss these details before you decide to sign with a company. It’s important that information is presented in a way that works best for your company.

Has the research firm ever worked in your industry before?

It sometimes helps to work with a research firm that has launched products in your industry. This isn’t always necessary because many of the tenets of good research remain the same regardless of the type of industry you’re working with.

If a company has some experience in your industry (or a closely related field) they might already be familiar with some of the hurdles specific to your company’s work.

Get the Best Results

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the market research team you’ll be hiring! It’s the job of a good research team to seek answers to your questions; therefore, they should be capable of answering the very basic queries we’ve laid out above.