To help guide your organization in this decision, consider the following types of market research firms and whether they can offer what you are looking for:
Research Report Purveyors
Some market research firms and aggregator-type sites simply go out and compile information on specific industries, trends, demographics and other market phenomenon that are likely to be of interest to others in the business community. Then, they make their final reports available online for purchase.
Pros: Instant access to valuable info; likely to use less resources
Cons: Not at all tailored to your personal needs; can still be relatively expensive
Best For: Firms willing to risk buying a report in order to potentially save time and money on conducting custom research
Field Service Firms
Field service firms focus on field data collection, meaning they actually go into consumer markets at the ground level to conduct research based on a specific question. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, observation and other methods of data collection are all used to describe phenomena as it happens, not as reported elsewhere.
Pros: Get unique information that can be applied directly at the consumer level
Cons: Field research alone cannot always answer a marketing question; research plan needed
Best For: Most businesses, brands and agencies that want to learn more about their market first-hand
Mystery Shopper Firms
Mystery shoppers are the flip side of field service; they measure outcomes for your ground level, which is to say how a common consumer would experience your brand. Mystery shoppers gather valuable data that can help brands reassess their service offerings from a fresh, neutral perspective.
Pros: Cost-effective; can help you gain new perspective
Cons: Limited scope; negative experiences can create fallacy of vividness and skew results
Best For: Large organizations that are subdivided into franchises, region branches, etc.
Market Research Consultants
Agencies, market research firms and in-house research teams often have a near 100 percent complete idea of how they need to conduct their research but want a neutral opinion to be sure. Market research consultants can examine aspects like study design, sampling technique and research plans to highlight their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Pros: Expert advice that can help iron out kinks in research design
Cons: Generally, only useful to individuals who already have a research design in place
Best For: Research teams and marketers who have the majority of resources to conduct custom research themselves, but want advice.
Full-Service Market Research Firms
A full service firm will help you answer marketing questions by building a study design for you from the ground up, conducting it and then presenting the results in an actionable format. The research types, study design and extent of research they engage in is all customized based on your needs.
Pros: Full-service experience; have your questions answered in a way that leaves little doubt
Cons: The most expensive and involved option on this list
Best For: Firms of all sizes willing to invest in a custom solution for answering marketing questions.
Pick the Firm that is Right for Your Research Project. Every Firm Has a Different focus.
Do you need some help finding the right firm for you? We can point you toward services we offer or the services of trusted people in our network to help you obtain the ideal outcome.