Not all market research companies are created equal. Searching for a quality vendor can be an overwhelming process for you as you try to balance budget with expertise.
Outside of just market research, we are all looking for a vendor we can trust, who does quality work, and is affordable. Without having any prior experience with a market research company, this can become a difficult proposition.
Here are 13 traits the best market research companies exemplify. Some of these traits are likely assumed, while others are unique. As you make a decision on which market research company to partner with, consider these 13 traits to differentiate one firm from another.
Here are 13 traits of a great market research company to look for.
- (1) Find a Vendor Who is Interested - The best market research companies and teams should have a genuine interest in what they do on a day-to-day basis. Interest generates effort, which generates results for you. When you field that initial phone call or phone calls with your vendor, try to get a sense of excitement from them. The consultant should first be interested in partnering with you on the venture.
- (2) Find a Vendor Who is Curious - The best market research companies are genuinely curious about their work. There needs to be a want to explore the "why" on all aspects of data. Search for a partner who goes beyond just the numbers. Data is only the beginning of the consulting process. Any market research company can execute a process, but the best provide your organization with the insight, interpretation, and action items from the data.
- (3) Find a Vendor Who is Self-motivated - This is the difference where the market research firm "wants to" explore versus being "asked to" explore by your team. There is a big difference between the two. Work with a vendor who is driven to go the extra-mile. The market research company should provide you with the exports and analysis you need. They should answer questions before you ask by anticipating your needs.
- (4) Find a Vendor Who is Open-minded and Flexible - The outcomes of the market research are not always what everyone expected. The market research company must be open to exploring new interpretations or running new breaks on demographics to do some digging. Most importantly, above all else the vendor must be objective and unbiased on the results. Delivering the truth is paramount.
- (5) Find a Vendor Who is Imaginative - Especially true when it comes to data visualization and reporting. A great market research company will always explore new and innovative ways to display data for you and think of new ways to dissect the data to uncover hidden trends. This might include infographics, word clouds, or strategic breakdowns like a Covey Matrix.
- (6) Find a Vendor Who is Skeptical - I think this is one of the key and often unrealized traits of a good market research company. If a market research firm takes a skeptical approach to each and every data point it forces them to examine the results much more closely. By questioning results, it creates another layer of analysis to truly uncover motivations and correlations.
- (7) Find a Vendor Who is Aware of What is Worthwhile - The days of the 100+ page market research reports are over. In many cases you won't have the time to read through a report like this, let alone your management team. The best market research companies can decipher what is most important in a summary for you using themes or trends. Beware of market research firms that promise large reports of data with no highlights.
- (8) Find a Vendor Who is Methodical - A good market research firm will have a tried and true process to follow. The dates, steps, and deliverables should be transparent from day one. Ask for an example workplan. The workplan lays out all tasks, responsible parties, and a timeline for the market research project. It creates a highly engineered and organized process.
- (9) Find a Vendor Who is Capable of Spotting Patterns - The vendor's ability to generate themes and create trends is essential to data analysis and reporting. Make sure the vendor can tie in other consumer behavior data from online sources, tie in past study results, or weave together findings from other similar projects. It will help add context to your report.
- (10) Find a Vendor Who is Analytical - This involves the ability of the market research company to break-down numbers. Don't let your vendor get away with stating just 84% are aware of your product. Being analytical means the willingness to find out who they are, what ZIP Codes they live in, how often they purchase and maybe more importantly, profiling the 16% who are not aware of the product. Market research always raises more questions than answers. The best market research companies are willing to dig for you in the trenches.
- (11) Find a Vendor Who is Synthetical - This trait involves taking findings from all different portions of the market research study and compiling them together in a sequential and streamlined fashion. Great market research companies can tell compelling stories that are remembered. It is not always about charts and graphs. It's about synthesizing the data so it is easily digestible for all.
- (12) Find a Vendor Who is Familiar with Data - This seems pretty straightforward, but it's important that your market research firm knows the ins and outs of the data (background, methodology, screener criteria, CPH, what, etc.) They should live and breathe your project and work as a full-time consultant to ensure your project is successful.
- (13) Find a Vendor Who is Skilled in the Practices of Data Analysis - At the end of the day doing all of the first 12 traits well results in Trait #13 coming to fruition. The best market research companies are always looking forward, aiming for continual refinement. A firm needs to learn from past mistakes and constantly evolve their process. If you have a long-term relationship with your market research company, this evolution and improvement should be visible year-over-year. Don't be satisfied with a status-quo relationship. We believe in better market research and we think you should too.
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This blog post is loosely based on a section of a book titled Now You See It, written by author Stephen Few. This Drive Research blog offers fresh content and news on market research.
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