We walk you through the things to consider when conducting primary research with a market research firm.



I am a firm believer that my clients should make decisions that are supported and backed by data. But the worth of data comes in how it’s collected.

When research needs to be done, most people turn to secondary research, which is research of data that already exists. I prefer primary research. By conducting primary research, you can customize your research study to obtain the information you need to make your company’s most-pressing decisions.

Market research projects are driven by the key research question you have about an audience or market. What is the key issue you want to address? What do you hope to learn from this research?

Market research can normally be categorized to help you better understand brand awareness, perception, vendor relationship, potential customers and retention of current customers. Depending on the type of information you want, this will influence your research method, target audience, incentive offerings and software tools.

Let’s say you’ve decided you want to conduct a research study. Your next question will be whether you need to facilitate a focus group or distribute a survey. How do you decide? If you want to test ad concepts, focus groups may be the best option to understand a group’s attitudes and feelings. If you want to better understand the decision-making process for purchasing managers in a certain industry, in-depth interviews may provide that one-on-one setting you need to get those answers. If you want to understand how many people are aware of your brand within a certain geographic area, a survey may be the better option.1

Sometimes, the answer will be that you need both. The information that you get from qualitative research is more exploratory and descriptive of your audience’s thoughts. This method is not the right one if you’re looking for statistics because these numbers cannot stand alone. Your data is not representative of a whole population if you’re using stats like: “Five out of 8 people agree with this statement.” How useful would that be in a board room? Surveys can be fielded in response to focus groups or interviews to test this information for accuracy with a larger sample.

The Cost of Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research

You’re looking to do some market research and need to know how much it is going to cost. I always tell clients that the cost of research depends on the type of study you are conducting and the resources you already have available.

Software: If you are conducting an online survey, there may be a cost for the software subscription and cost per completed survey. Those costs will depend on the software you’re using to implement it.

Facility costs: If you are conducting in-person focus groups or in-depth interviews, you may have to pay for the facility you are using.

Sample list purchase: Maybe you want to survey people whose names you already have on a list, such as those who subscribe to your emails. Or maybe you want to recruit your respondents by sharing your survey on your social media platforms. You can use lists like this to implement your survey, but keep in mind that your respondents will have a bias based on their current opinions or previous interactions with you.

If you don’t already have a sample list, and you want to survey a specific group of people in a specific demographic, you will need to purchase a list of email addresses and names of participants. How many names you need to purchase depends on the predicted response rate that you will get from that audience.

Incentives: If your audience is one that has a connection to you, it is more likely to participate in your research study without an incentive. Other audiences may have a better response rate if there is an incentive for them to participate and their answers may be more thorough because the respondents feel obligated to do a good job. Several studies have indicated that the use of incentives also reduces to some extent item non-responses and “bad answers” such as “don’t know” or “no answer.”2

We’ve given you some things to think about as you begin organizing the objectives of your market research project. Keep an eye out for our future posts on market research how-tos! Need help organizing your study? Schedule a meeting with us to help scope out your project and ensure your study will yield the answers you need.

Sites Used:

  1. https://mbaonline.pepperdine.edu/blog/understanding-types-marketing-research/
  2. https://www.nbrii.com/customer-survey-white-papers/survey-incentives-response-rates-and-data-quality/