Market Trends

Market Research Budget Planning Tip 3: The Most Common Research Planning Assumption

[Third in a series on budget planning, for market researchers planning their 2011 market research investments]

When someone comes to me with a substantial marketing challenge or business issue, my mind quickly jumps to some combination of, “survey,” “interviews,” or other primary research method.

Part of this inclination is from my early career. Years ago, I was disheartened at the poor quality of many so called “research reports”—many of which were based more on some analyst’s opinions than on any primary research. I learned to avoid them, and stopped bothering to even consider them in my research plans. But a lot has changed since then.

Today, there is a huge amount of published research, on just about any market imaginable.  A few months ago I was working with a client in the paving and mining industry—pretty niche, right? Well, believe it or not, there are two firms that publish significant research reports on those markets. Amazing.

I’m not saying secondary research replaces primary, but research budgets can be used more effectively if secondary research is tapped first in order to:

  1. Allow for a more narrow focus for the primary research. A more precise focus can mean a less elaborate methodology, or at minimum a shorter research instrument. If some of the key questions can be answered through secondary sources, then we can focus the primary on the most important content.
  2. Identify possible risks. Existing studies may have insights into unexpected customer attitudes or behaviors. Knowing about these in advance will help you design a methodology that will be able to best cope with complexities.

Bottom line? Some primary research can be simplified through select investments in secondary sources. Here are a few places to look:


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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