Best PracticesMarket Research

From Outsourcing to In-house Market Research: Weighing the Benefits (Part 1 of 3)

These days, it’s not uncommon for organizations that once relied heavily on outsourced market research to re‑think that practice. There are four primary reasons why you might be driven to consider bringing some, even most, of your market research processes in-house:

  1. Feasibility. There are over 50 online survey platforms alone, plus a plethora of social media listening tools, text analytics programs, and more. By streamlining many once time-intensive tasks, these tools make it feasible to do research in‑house.
  2. Responsiveness. There’s an ever-increasing pressure on the market research department to deliver customer and market insights faster. Often, this can be done more quickly in‑house, rather than going through a purchase process for each new project.
  3. Security. In organizations that are driven by innovation — especially those related to technology and other proprietary intellectual property — there can be a concern about information security.  While not implying any unethical behavior, some companies prefer to avoid working with market research companies that also work for their competitors.
  4. Cost. In some cases, it can be less expensive to do research in‑house. Out-sourcing to a market research company adds sales commissions and project management fees, and data collection costs often include a mark-up. By handling market research in‑house, you can avoid some of that extra cost.

Bottom line: Yes, there can be real benefits to re-thinking your mix of outsourced to in-house market research. Recent technology developments have fundamentally changed the cost-benefit balance. Still, there are real costs to bringing market research in-house, and some of them are easy to under-estimate. In the next article in this series, we’ll tackle the issue of assessing the real cost of market research tools. And in the third and final part, we’ll provide a checklist for realistically assessing in-house skills and staffing requirements.

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Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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