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When Skimping on Market Research Fails: 5 Cheap Moves That Will Ruin Your Research

Never skimp on budget for:

  • Quality sample.  Having quality sample is critical. Avoid sources that can’t talk credibly about their recruitment tactics or list sources. You don’t want to bake a cake with spoiled eggs.
  • Sufficient sample quantity. If you are purchasing outside sample, be sure you have access to enough—or at least have a fallback strategy in place in case your incidence rates are tragically low.  I have seen many otherwise brilliantly managed projects experience dramatic schedule slips because of poor sample quantity planning.
  • Expert research design. Don’t sabotage a project by fielding a poorly constructed questionnaire or applying an inappropriate methodology for the given objective.  Even if you intend to do a project in-house, getting help in this area will pay for itself by avoiding wasted time and money.
  • Competent data analysis. If you spend the time and money to collect beautiful data, don’t skimp on the analysis. This can be harder than it sounds, especially for projects that have had data collection problems. In these cases, you can become so exhausted with the project that by the time data analysis is due, you are just ready to be done with it. Resist the temptation or get help.  Skipping on data analysis can backfire in 2 ways. First, someone else will look at the data and find an important result that you missed. Ouch. Second, you won’t get a good return on the research investment—leaving a bad impression that may derail you the next time you try to get budget for a market research study.
  • Decent reporting.  Rushing to get the research delivered is understandable—but unfortunate typos, mislabeled charts or poor writing can turn off the audience and damage the research’s credibility.  Yes, really.

If you have people with these skills in-house—great, do it in-house. If you want to augment with outside expertise for discrete tasks, there are many boutique agencies and market research freelancers available for such work. And if you want an experienced expert to run the project for you, by all means hire a market research agency. But don’t skimp—it always backfires.

[What do you think? Do you agree? Have a different perspective? Please add your comment here or call the blog comments line at 508.691.6004 ext 702.]

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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2 thoughts on “When Skimping on Market Research Fails: 5 Cheap Moves That Will Ruin Your Research”

  1. There are some nice resources here but Market Research is more about the question than the answer. That’s where a market research firm like makes sense. Since you know what you designed your product to do, will you really know how other people will use it? Getting inside the mind of a consumer with no knowledge of your product or service is very important.

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