It certainly can be.
But I can also tell you, after 25 years of doing market research, that there are known strategies for managing project-related stress. My favorite is one Research Rockstar students hear me talk about frequently: the preemptive strike.
Most stress-inducers are due to unmanaged risk factors. Things that can go wrong in a market research project that cause budgets to be squeezed, timelines to slip or success criteria to be unmet. Trying to manage these risks after they have already emerged is often difficult and highly stress-inducing.
Example of Market Research Project Stress
Consider the market researcher who has committed to a project where the screening criteria are known to be hard. Sure enough, at some point, it gets stressful. Quotas aren’t being met, deadlines are looming, and the client (internal or external) is becoming unhappy. It is a brutal time, and stress levels soar.
In this scenario and others, the best option would have been a preemptive strike. That is, taking steps to make sure the problem never got to the stress-inducing point. In this example, there are 4 ways to do this:
- Getting clients to pre-approve fallback strategies (what screening items could possibly be relaxed in the event it became necessary).
- Having additional sample sources (and budget) on stand-by if needed.
- Educating the client on the possibility that some quotas may not be met and why.
- Having secondary sources that prove why some of the screeners are likely to be difficult (so that you can demonstrate that the possible data collection issue would not be due to your ineffectiveness, but to size-of-universe realities).
Market Research & the Preemptive Strike
Luckily, most market research risk factors that cause stress are known, and best practices exist to manage them. In many cases, the best strategy is to employ a preemptive strike as a way to neutralize risks before they blow up your project.
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