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7 Reasons Your Research is Expensive… And What to Do About It

October 6, 2021
Ashley Jefferson Author 9 mins read
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Conducting primary research should be a great experience. Projects can yield results that lead to great products, organizational change, and increased market share. One thing that all projects have in common is that everyone would like them to be less expensive. There may be some ways you can reduce the cost of your next research project. Here are seven reasons your research might be expensive- and seven ways you might be able to sneak one more research project out of your budget.

1) Your Research is Expensive Because Your Sample Size is Too Large

When it comes to quantitative research, bigger sample sizes correspond to better, more actionable results. But bigger sample sizes may not always be necessary. Sample is a large percentage of the project expense. Talk with your research providers about what your smallest sample size needs to be. At some point, the law of diminishing returns begins to kick in. For example, if the share of preference is at 20 percent, the margin of error looks like this:

Save Money By Selecting the Appropriate Sample Size

As you can see, the gains from adding 200 to the sample size each time diminish the larger you go. One solution to making your research affordable is to trade off the extra one percentage point in margin of error in favor of a couple thousand dollars. Work with your research provider to make sure you have the right sample for the anticipated results.

A Note About Subsegments:

In some cases, you need to make sure you have enough respondents to be able to create segments or subgroups for your responses. If you need subsegments, then ask the following:

  • Are subgroups vital to understanding your data? Will responses differ between them? If so, will you take action based on these different subgroup responses?  If not, look at total sample.
  • Can you reduce the number of subgroups? Larger subgroups mean that each one must be able to be significantly different from the other. This means larger sample sizes, and a reason that research is expensive

2) Your Research is Expensive Because Your Target is Hard to Find

One of the great things about a good screener is that you can find hard-to-reach potential consumers by starting with the right list and then filtering them out with well-written questions. But the more specific your requirements, the harder it is to find these people. Imagine how difficult it would be to find a needle in a haystack. Now imagine trying to find not only more needles, but more haystacks. The amount of time and effort equates directly to the cost of the research project.

Save Money By Considering The Following Alternatives:

In certain cases, such as interviewing buyers of a brand-new product, it may be necessary to spend the time and money to identify respondents even if it’s difficult. If that’s the case, here are potential solutions:

  • Get a list – Do you have a list of product registrations from the client? Does someone else already have a list?
  • Reconsider timelines – does ‘recent purchase’ have to mean ‘in the past week’? Can it be three months?
  • Reconsider the scope – depending on your goals, your research can include those who bought a similar product to yours
  • Increase your search time – the more time you have to find your respondents, the more conventional and inexpensive methods you can use. Urgent research = expensive research

3) Your Research Is Expensive Because Your Survey is Too Long

One of the strongest temptations that our clients have when starting a new survey is to throw in “the kitchen sink”. After all, their thinking goes, finding our customers is expensive and we’re finally getting to talk to them. Why shouldn’t we ask them everything we’ve wanted to know for the past couple of years!

Here is the most important reason why you shouldn’t do that: we want respondents to stay on task. Asking five questions about their purchase motivators and then shifting gears to how much they like banana bread can throw off the respondent. Of course, there’s a second reason too: the longer the survey, the higher the cost.

Reduce your research costs by keeping your survey focused

Ask yourself this about each question on your survey:

  • Is the survey flow clear: would this survey confuse your mother?
  • How will you use the data?
  • What decisions will you make?

If you do not have a good answer, you can add the question to the potential elimination pile.

Besides helping with cost, a shorter survey also has the benefit of delivering higher quality data. Respondents will be more attentive and less subject to fatigue as they take the survey.

4) Research Costs Are Climbing Because Your Analyses are Unnecessarily Complex

While we are big fans of acronyms like LOGIT, ANOVA, or CBC, there’s one we prefer: KiSS (Keep Statistics Simple). Multivariate Analysis is often a useful tool, and it needs to be used for some projects. However, complex statistical modeling takes more of your supplier’s time and expertise, which in turn drives up costs.

Save money by focusing on what analyses are critical to answering your questions

Before engaging your supplier in these types of analyses, have a discussion on what types of analysis they think will be most relevant. When a crosstab will do, use it. “Research by the Pound” might be a tempting proposition, but remember to stay focused on quality, not quantity.

5) Your Research Is Costly Because You Selected the Wrong Methodology

In a previous article, we outlined some of the differences and uses of both qualitative and quantitative research. We also reminded you that each has its place. You can almost never replace one for the other. While qualitative research can be a very important tool to gather learning, it can also be much more expensive that quantitative research. In some cases, you may have enough institutional knowledge to skip the qualitative and head straight to quantitative research.

Reduce costs by considering if qualitative research is necessary

Is a qualitative study vital to answering your questions, or can you skip straight to quantitative research? If qual is needed, consider methods other than in-person focus groups. Online focus groups can often provide a high-quality learning at a lower price.

And with quant, if you are not doing it online make sure there is a good reason. While project specifications or objectives can sometimes necessitate phone or in-person research, those methodologies are also much more expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to complete.

6) Your Research Costs More Because You Conduct Your Survey Too Often (tracking surveys)

The nature of tracking studies is that they need to be conducted regularly and consistently over time to measure changes in the marketplace. These studies will help indicate the effectiveness of your (or competitors) marketing activities

The impact of such activities may take time to be felt. You could draw incorrect conclusions about your efforts if you don’t allow enough time for the impact to be visible on the metrics you’re measuring. With that in mind, fielding your tracking survey every month or every quarter might be too much. In some cases, you will spend a lot of money, see no changes in your key performance indicators (KPIs), and prematurely (and possibly incorrectly) conclude the marketing initiatives had no impact.

Save money by reducing frequency

Consider what is realistic regarding expectation of movement on your chosen KPIs and field your study accordingly. If you can reduce the frequency of your survey, you will save money on your research.

When does it make sense to do frequent updates?

A survey like TraQline measures marketplace changes every quarter (we even have a monthly version). So is that too frequent? Not exactly. Here’s why:

TraQline is a syndicated survey of 150,000 respondents quarterly. With this massive amount of respondents, we are able to measure smaller marketplace changes with greater accuracy.

“But wait,” you say, “you just told me huge sample sizes equal huge costs, right?” It does, but by syndicating the survey we are able to spread out the massive cost across multiple customers. In this case, the huge cost is borne by these multiple customers, thus making it affordable to everyone.

7) Your Research Costs More Because You’re Not Getting Competitive Bids

If you were shopping for a new car, you would shop around. It’s no different with market research projects. Not only do multiple bids on a project allow you to compare prices, they also provide a variety of perspectives regarding your project’s design. There are many ways you can develop a stellar relationship with your supplier. Once have found one you trust, you may not need to continue getting competitive bids for projects the supplier has handled for you in the past. However, getting some new perspective on old problems can yield unique insights.

You don’t have to take the lowest cost, as price should not be your only consideration. But at least you will have some perspective to ensure you are not paying significantly more than need be

Save money by seeking competitive bids for your research project

With trusted suppliers, let them know you’re getting a couple of competitive bids every once in a while—and then do that. They’ll understand. Make sure you are open to new ideas and the possibility of a new supplier

With new suppliers, always get at least one competitive bid (most researchers get three total). Don’t hesitate to let your suppliers know that the bid will go not to the lowest cost supplier but the supplier who can deliver the best results at the highest value.

Market Research Made Easy | TraQline

Market research can be expensive, but it makes sense to do the projects in the most efficient way possible. The market research experts at TraQline can guide you towards the most efficient and effective research methods available including our suite of market research products including Durable IQ, SKU Metrix, and HPOS. By keeping in mind the above facts, you may have enough budget for another project in the last fiscal quarter! If you need help reaching your target market, TraQline offers the consumer insights you are looking for. When you are ready to have the industry information and consumer data you need at your fingertips, contact our experts to get started.