Bringing Market Research In-House: Watch for this Gotcha

Are you bringing more market research in-house? Relying less on outside market research agencies? That can be a perfectly reasonable choice—for many reasons. But before you cut yourself off from your research agency partners, be sure to have some realistic estimates for the time it will take you to do these tasks in-house.

The biggest miscalculation people make when bringing research in-house is underestimating how much staff time it takes to analyze and report research results.  Even for a simple quantitative project—one without any multivariate analysis or modeling—you can easily spend 20-40 hours doing the data analysis, quality checks, creating visual displays, and preparing deliverables. And again, that’s a low time estimate.

Even if you have great people on staff with the right skills to do the analysis and reporting, you will be setting them up for failure by underestimating the time they need for such tasks. And we all know the brutal truth about primary market research; no matter how important and groundbreaking your insights are, it won’t matter if your audience doesn’t get them delivered in a clear, compelling way.

So what are your options?

  • As you bring more research in-house, be sure to have a realistic resource plan in place. Create a best and worst case scenario for staff requirements given planned research levels.
  • Establish a pool of qualified market research freelancers/consultants who can augment your staff during crunch times.
  • Provide some basic training to your internal clients on what to expect from market research projects (ok, that is a bit self-serving since I do this type of training—but I still think the point is valid).
  • Consider options for how you can best optimize the mix of in-house versus outsourced market research. For your organization, it may make sense to bring more research in-house—but choosing how to strike the right balance given your internal resources will have a big impact on this transition’s success.
[As always, I welcome any questions or comments. Please leave them here, email me at, or by phone 508.691.6004 ext 705]
  1. Jeffrey Henning
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