Market research and market reports

Should I use a market research agency?

Though you may be able to do your own field research, it may be better and more cost-effective to outsource the job to professionals and use the services of a market research agency - see our guide on outsourcing.

The benefits to your business are:

  • Market research professionals are likely to get better results. They have experience in designing survey questionnaires, running focus groups and asking the right questions.
  • Customers may find it easier to be honest with an outsider, particularly if they have a complaint.
  • Customers may worry you're trying to sell them something if you conduct the research yourself.
  • You may find it difficult to be impartial, particularly if people criticise your business.

For small-scale field research, your best option may be a freelance researcher. A market research agency won't usually take on projects with a budget below £3,000.

As well as recommendations from business contacts, you can search for a market research agency on the Research Buyers Guide website (registration required).

Before taking on a market research agency or a freelance researcher, investigate their reputation. Ask for a list of previous clients and contact them for feedback. Check the agency or researcher has relevant experience and consider how comfortable you'd feel working with them. And get a clear idea of fees for the services you want.

Check the agency's researchers or freelance researchers fit the image of your business. If they'll be carrying out street interviews, confirm they'll have the required local authority licence and identity card.

Make sure you provide a thorough and clear brief. This needs to cover areas such as the business objectives behind the project, the information the research should uncover and how you intend to use the results.

Subjects covered in this guide


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