7 Components of a Market Research Proposal

You can tell a lot about a market research company from its proposal. A market research proposal is the first and most critical step with your project or company of choice.

It gives you all of the information you need on the process, approach, and most importantly: the cost.

7 components of a research proposal

What A Proposal Tells You About a Market Research Company

Aside from project cost, there are a few other important factors in choosing a market research company. Here are a few things to consider.

How quickly do they turn it around?

Understanding the estimated project timeline showcases how fast the market research company can move. More importantly, is reflects how much of a priorty your project is for them. 

If they are taking a week or longer to produce a fairly straight-forward and simple proposal, they may not be considering you as a priority client.

Speaking from experience, the research industry moves fast. A week is an eternity in business as far as Drive Research is concerned.

How clean and professional does it look?

The layout and format of a market research proposal will give you some insight into what their reporting, infographics, and deliverables will look like.

A sloppy thrown together proposal is a sign of bad things to come. Remember, this is should be the phase where a third-party market research firm is trying to win you over.

If the first document you receieve from a vendor is not up to your standards, it is likely not the firm you'd like to move forward with.

How flexible is the market research company?

Are they willing to work with you on scope, process, and cost if your budget requires?

If they show some flexibility and are willing to make adjustments as part of the proposal process, it is a sign they will be easy to work with in the coming weeks.

At our market research company, we like to act as an extension of your team. In the propsoal phase, we try to do everything we can for your team to meet your goals.

How responsive are they?

If you send an email to a prospective market research venor asking them a question about the scope or price and it should not taket days to get a response.

Think of it this way, the service is likely not going to get better once they close the project and have you as a client.

The best service you will get from any company is when they are trying to get you to sign the dotted line. Sad but very true.

7 Components of a Market Research Proposal

Before you sign on the dotted line read this post about market research proposals. It will teach you what to look for, what the process looks like, and key components of a proposal document.

This includes the following topic areas:

  1. Objectives
  2. Aproach
  3. Design
  4. Fieldwork
  5. Reporting
  6. Timeline
  7. Costs

Not getting the details in all of these areas in your market research proposal? Ask your market research company to clarify.

Looking for assistance in developing something bigger? Here is your ultimate guide to writing a market research RFP.

Component #1 of a Market Research Proposal: Objectives

This is the general recap of key questions that need to be answered in the market research.

It should address your expectations, what you want to learn from the market research, and what you plan to do with the results.

In this section, the market research company should communicate how well they listened and understood the key objectives of your project from the prospecting meetings.

This is an important component of a market research proposal. It is importnat both sides have a clear understanding of what the general goals and objectives of the research are. 

Your objectives will shape survey or interview questions, and guide the final results. Do no hesitate to discuss any comments or concerns when you receive the proposal.

Component #2 of a Market Research Proposal: Approach

In this section of the market research proposal, the firm should outline the approach. This approach should set the table for the methodologies of choice and most importantly, why they are the best options for the client.

Here the proposal may talk about 2 focus groups followed by an online survey. Or possibly in-depth interviews (IDIs) followed by an online survey through email contacts.

Whatever the methodology is, the firm should spend some time discussing the value of each methodology and why it was chosen over other options.

For instance, online surveys offer the best return on investment (ROI) for a client. This is because they are cost-effective, offer a quick-turnaround, and capture quality data. This is part of the story we share for our market research projects.

All great market research companies have a patented process.

Component #3 of a Market Research Proposal: Design

Now that the approach is laid out, the market research company should get into the details here.

The design phase of the market research proposal outlines the structure of each of the market research instruments.

This may include:

  • A moderator's guide for a focus group
  • A survey document for an online survey
  • An interview guide for an IDI

This should explain some of the questions the market research company is considering asking, how long the survey or interview will take, what populations the market research will be targeting, and so on.

For example, if the market research company is proposing focus groups, the proposal will discuss the location of the groups, honorariums, recruitment methods, and more.

This is the crux of the market research proposal. The detail is in the design and it's where the market research company can shine.

The design component is where they can show their expertise and experience. This is where the pretenders are separated from the contenders.

Component #4 of a Market Research Proposal: Fieldwork

During the fieldwork section of the proposal, this is where your organization will read about the number of groups, the number of survey completes, or the number of interviews.

You may also learn about how the firm proposes cutting the audiences or creating quotas.

Here the market research firm should also share how the project will start with a soft-launch before fully launching fieldwork.

Additionally, in this section of our market research proposals, we also share with our clients that they will receive a live data link which they can access 24/7 with a passcode.

This gives our clients up-to-the-second data when their project is active.

Component #5 of a Market Research Proposal: Reporting

The reporting component is another key section of the market research proposal. This is where your team will read about the analysis and reporting plans of the market research company.

It should give you a mental picture of how the report will be structured.

This would most likely include:

  • An executive summary
  • Recommendations
  • Infographic
  • Customer persona
  • An appendix of question-by-question results

Depending on the complexity of the project, the market research firm should also touch on some advanced analytics such as TURF, regression, correlation, or any other non-traditional form of analysis and reporting.

Component #6 of a Market Research Proposal: Timeline

In one of the final sections of the market research proposal, the market research firm should highlight the timeline.

This not only includes a total start to finish estimate in weeks (or months) but a breakdown of each section.

Our market research firm often finds gantt charts work very well for these timelines. The breakdown here should include kickoff, set up, design, fieldwork, and reporting.

Component #7 of a Market Research Proposal: Costs

Lastly, the document must highlight the expenses. This total cost is often what our clients (and any human being) want to jump to first.

We typically either include this on the cover page or at least in the email sent to the client. The cost should give some details on how it came to be. For instance, the cost of market research could be based on hourly rates and time expected to complete each task.

The scope should also talk about the hard pass-through costs such as incentives or rentals of panels.

Need a Market Research Proposal? Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research company. We provide both qualitative and quantiative research services to organizations across the world.

If you are interested in receiving a market research proposal from Drive Research, contact us today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.


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