Market research involves a lot more than just sending out a customer survey. You need data to mine, tools with which to mine it, and expertise throughout to plan, operate and analyse the insights.
Read more: Understanding your Audience, the complete guide to market research.
For many companies, this is simply too much investment to perform in-house—which is why many turn to research agencies instead.
These are the benefits of doing so:
Research companies have the talent required for effective research.
Firstly, they are better able to plan the deployment of your research. Asking questions isn’t enough: you have to be able to ask the right questions, with the right wording, in the right way.
This means knowing the best methodology of collecting the data you need too. Surveys, focus groups, interviews, observational studies, just to name a few—a research agency knows which will gather the data you need to succeed and how to deploy them.
Secondly, research companies are better suited to performing the research.
Knowing the research methodology is just the beginning; actually doing the research is quite different. Regardless of what method you use, you need to be able to operate in an unbiased way—quite difficult when the product or service being researched is your own.
Lastly, even after you’ve gathered the data, you still need to make sense of it.
Uncovering important insights, correlating respondent traits with other notable information, formulating your data into visual reports that strike at the heart of the research instead of getting bogged down with presenting every possible data point: this all takes skill and experience.
Errors at any point in this process, from deployment to reporting, can create the only situation worse than no data: incorrect data. False insight can result in incorrect strategic decisions that lead a business to stagnate at best or fail at worst.
A market research agency, with its complement of trained data scientists, researchers and analysts, ensures that you get both the data and the level of accuracy you need.
Advanced data research and analytical tools are expensive. Free tools exist, and these can be useful for basic market research—but the reality is most of these tools are simply not suitable for any company that takes their data seriously.
Even if there is the budget for the high-end research tools, it is not always sensible to purchase or lease them outright. These tools are extremely complex to use, requiring the proper expertise—using them incorrectly can result in inaccurate insights.
Imagine them like the Adobe Creative Suite: extremely powerful, professional-grade tools. Buying the licenses is expensive, but even after doing so, you can’t expect someone without any training to deliver quality, award-winning creative.
Market research companies have these tools on hand, and the talent to use them accurately.
Access to data
Many businesses will have a database of existing customers to survey, or request interviews with. This is an excellent source of information that can be used as a basis for market research—assuming you can access that data accurately and effectively.
However, what most companies will lack is the capability to reach out to an external populace and get their opinion. This is an absolute necessity if you are trying to reach a new market, or expand your business in general.
Many research agencies will have an established panel of survey respondents that represent a wide range of the populace. These panels are far larger than many of the customer databases owned by companies themselves, and far more diverse as well.
The reliable, consistent respondents in these panels also ensure that the researchers get enough data to ensure validity.
Market research takes a serious investment in time, technology and talent—and getting it wrong can be even more costly.
For more information, download our all-in-one guide to understanding your audience.