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Conducting Market Research PDF Print E-mail

Conducting Market Research

If you are looking to conduct a market research project there are a number of ways that you could go about it. Some research buyers choose to use full service market research agencies whilst others commission their research with consultancies or freelancers. Or there is of course the option of carrying out the research yourself.

This section of the Market Research World is intended to give you some background information about the various methods of conducting research, along with some points to consider when planning your research project. The articles in this section have been contributed by: DJS Research Ltd 

Market research information can be obtained from a variety of sources. Basically there are two types of research: ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’. The latter involves using information that is already readily available, for example by utilising your local library you will have access to reference materials, magazines, directories of associations etc…Also a local college library or business school, vocational or technical institute, chamber of commerce, trade associations etc…will all have useful research data. The other side of the coin is ‘Primary research’ – this is where you conduct your own bespoke piece of market research.

If you want to conduct your own project, any of the following organisations will be able to help. They pretty much make up the market research industry:

- ?Market Research Agencies
- ?Market Research Consultancies
- ?Freelancers or Consultants
- ?Fieldwork & Tabulation Companies
- ?Data Preparation & Analysis
- ?Viewing Facilities

Below we take a brief look at each.?

Market Research Agencies
Full service market research agencies are organisations that will be able to conduct all elements of your research project from start to finish. Their staff (executives) will be able to help design the project (to ensure it meets the initial research objectives), carry out the fieldwork to collect the data, analyse the information, interpret the data and produce conclusions and recommendations. There are numerous agencies to choose from - in the UK most of them are based in or around London. Whichever agency you choose to select make sure that they adhere to the appropriate industry quality standards. The main one to check is that the company is a member of the Market Research Society (MRS).??

Market Research Consultancies
Consultancies are usually smaller than market research agencies – both in terms of their number of employees and the services that they can offer. Often they do not have their own fieldwork department, telephone unit and data processing department. Instead they would normally have to contract out these parts of the projects to specialist fieldwork and data processing companies. Apart from this they are similar to agencies – they can carry out your project from start to finish offering a high standard of work. Again, you should be looking to commission a company that is a member of the MRS.

A good starting?point to source a market research consultancy would be to visit the Independent Consultants Group (ICG) website: ICG represents small market research consultancies and independent market researchers. The membership, which is steadily rising, now stands at over 200 members; their last survey showed that members have an average of 22 years of research experience.

Freelancers or Consultants
Market Research Freelancers or Consultants are normally individuals operating on a lone basis. Most freelancers have gained a number of years experience working on the agency or client side and then decide to go it alone. Some tend to support research agencies as an extra resource and/or have their own direct clients. With a Freelancer or Consultant you are buying the individual – often a very experienced researcher. Like a consultancy a freelancer would have to contract out some parts of the project – the fieldwork and data processing.

The main advantage of selecting a freelancer is value for money – because they are mainly ‘one man bands’ they have low overheads and therefore usually offer very competitive rates. In addition, you have the guarantee that a Senior researcher will be looking after your project – not always the case with a larger research agency. Again, being a member of the MRS is a good sign – freelancers and consultants should also be members of the Market Research Society.????

Fieldwork & Tabulation Companies
Fieldwork companies deal with data collection only; this can be done using interviewers (e.g. on-street interviewing or in-store interviewing) or interviewers who work within a telephone unit.

The tabulation element is the next stage of the project. After the data has been collected it needs to be verified, checked, processed and tabulated (producing computer tables showing the data generated by the survey) so that it can be analysed by the researcher.

Some companies offer both elements whilst others specialise in either discipline. If you choose this option then obviously you will need to undertake the other parts of the project yourself (the project design, the management, analysis, interpretation and reporting) or you could commission the help of a freelancer.????

Again, these types of organisations should also be members of the MRS. In addition, you should also make sure that any interviewers used are IQCS registered (ensures certain standards of quality).

Viewing Facilities
If you are undertaking a qualitative piece of research then viewing facilities can be handy. They basically enable you to view your interviews or group discussions. The moderator or researcher will sit in one room with the respondent(s), whilst you the client will sit in another room. By using one-way mirrors you are able to see and hear the conversation but they can’t see or hear you. Viewing facilities also offer audio, video and DVD recordings of the interview/group.

Using viewing facilities can be fairly expensive compared with in-home groups for example (viewing facilities cost c600-?700 for an evening slot) but they do offer an environment where you are able to view the interview or group live, without your presence effecting the discussion in anyway.?

If you choose to use a viewing facility you should ask the question: Are you a member of the Viewing Facility Association (VFA)? Members adhere to both the MRS and the VFA codes of conduct.


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