From focus groups to in-depth interviews to surveys, are you left wondering how long market research actually takes?
In truth, the answer is that it depends. However, we can provide some more information and context to those market research timelines below. There are several different factors involved which impact timelines for market research, but the biggest factors are:
- Understanding the objectives of the research and
- Developing an effective market research methodology to meet those needs.
In this post we'll discuss how long different types of market research typically take and factors that affect timeline. It will help answer your question about "How Long Does Market Research Take?"
Your questions about how long market research takes have finally be answered!
How long does a focus group take?
Typically, a focus group with 10 to 12 participants will last for 1 and a half to 2 hours. However, shorter focus groups, which last for an hour are also becoming popular. Depending on the subject and goals for the conversation, shorter focus groups are ideal and can be completed at a lower cost (decreased moderator time, smaller honorarium payment, etc.)
An entire focus group project takes 3 to 5 weeks to complete. The first week encompasses project set up (i.e., holding a kickoff meeting, developing the focus group moderator's guide, and developing the screener). The second and third weeks is for recruitment. Market research professionals will work to recruit an ideal mix of participants. Then the focus groups are held. The final week is reserved for creating the report and analyzing the results.
Depending on the needs of the focus group this timeline can be sped up.
How long do in-depth interviews (IDIs) take?
An IDI can last anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour. This is another case where the amount of time is dependent on the needs of the project. Most IDIs take roughly 30 minutes, but the time it takes to complete depends on the respondent. Some respondents will go in-depth and their IDI may take 45 minutes to complete, and others may be straight to the point and their IDI may take 20 minutes to complete.
An IDI market research project will typically take 3 to 5 weeks to complete. The first week is reserved for project set up, conducting a kickoff meeting, and receiving the information needed to develop a screener for the IDIs as well as an IDI guide. The next one or two weeks is for recruitment and conducting IDIs. The final week is reserved for reporting.
This timeline will depend on how hard the audience is to reach and how many IDIs are conducted. If your organization wants to conduct 40 IDIs instead of 10 it will likely take longer. As a rule of thumb, reaching professionals is more difficult than reaching general consumers.
How long does an online survey take?
It's best practice for online surveys to take 3 to 5 minutes to complete (or less). This typically includes up to 15 questions. Market research professionals are able to work with clients to prioritize objectives and create questions to meet the research goals.
An online survey project can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 to 4 weeks to complete. The difference in time really depends on the research methodology and deliverables. Running a quick study with 10 questions with the general public and receiving charts and graphs can take only a matter of days. On the other hand, a larger study with roughly 15 questions that needs to reach a specific population can take longer.
Each online survey project starts with a kickoff meeting where market research professionals identify project needs and get the information required to draft the survey. Once the survey draft is signed off on, fieldwork can be completed in a matter of days or weeks depending on the desired audience. For some studies, fieldwork at our market research company has been completed in 24 hours.
From here, results can be presented in the form of charts and graphs within 24 hours of fieldwork being completed, or a full report with an in-depth look at the results can be developed within a week.
Length of time for market research studies vary depending on the methodology.
How long does a phone survey take?
Somewhat similar to an IDI or online survey, phone surveys typically take between 10 to 15 minutes. Depending on the goals of the research, a phone survey may be shorter if no follow-up questions.
A phone survey project can take 4 to 8 weeks to complete. The difference in time here will be impacted by the research goals. If the survey is more in-depth, specific, and longer these projects typically take more time to complete. For larger phone survey projects like 400, 600, or 800 completes, the timeline will be extended. However, if the survey is to the point and aims to reach a general audience of consumers the project can be sped up.
How long does a mail survey take?
Mail surveys will take the longest to complete. For most mail surveys, market research professionals keep the surveys short and on one page. It's important to keep the respondent in mind here and consider what completing the survey gets them. Do respondents value the relationship enough to respond? Are you offering an incentive for completing the survey? Both are important questions for mail survey projects.
A typical mail survey project takes at least 6 to 8 weeks to complete. Similar to the prior market research processes, a kickoff meeting is held, a draft survey is developed, and once the draft survey is signed off on fieldwork begins.
Length of time to complete fieldwork is amplified for mail survey projects. Fieldwork for mail survey projects can take 4 to 5 weeks. This is the largest variable and longest portion of the mail survey timeline. Once fieldwork is completed, the final week is reserved for developing the market research report.
How long do intercept surveys take?
Intercept surveys should be kept short and are oftentimes 10 questions or less. If a market research interviewer is attempting to stop someone to ask them questions at an event or retail location, it's important to get straight to the point in the survey because time is of the essence. This refers to the risk of a respondent walking away before completing the survey.
Intercept survey projects take 2 to 3 weeks to complete. After the project kickoff is held and the intercept survey is developed, fieldwork is conducted on-site. These intercept survey locations can range from business lobbies to areas where target consumers are such as malls and more. After fieldwork is completed, the last week is held for developing the results and report.
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