How Much Does Market Research Cost? | Choose Wisely

The cost of market research is dependent on the size and scope of your project needs. For instance, a simple online survey that obtains 100 completes and includes a small report from a market research consultant will be less expensive than a 1,000+ complete phone survey with a comprehensive report. The cost of market research is relative to a number of factors.

How Much Does Market Research Cost? | Choose Wisely

What is the most expensive survey methodology?

When comparing in-person, phone, mail, and online surveys, the most impactful cost is the time spent on data collection and fieldwork. Therefore, if you are aiming to acquire 400 completes and you are debating between the 4 options, in-person is typically the most expensive. Since phone surveys also involve live people administering telephone calls, it can also be quite expensive.

Mail surveys involve an additional cost to print, prepare, stamp and send the surveys to respondents. There is also a data entry charge as the surveys are returned. Online surveys are by far the most affordable option. There is no cost to administer, other than clicking a mouse. The survey respondent's data enter their feedback on your behalf. This is a large reason as to why email and online surveys have grown immensely over the past 10 to 15 years in the industry.

How does reporting impact cost?

When reviewing the costs of market research, you should understand what you'll be receiving from your market research company on the back-end. Many will charge you for an expensive report but simply export the data into an excel template or automate tables that are sent to you in a PDF with no analysis.

Others may charge you a fortune to have a team of 10 people run banners and review every cross-tab imaginable. Not to say market research companies should not be scrubbing and analyzing the data extensively but oftentimes and money is wasted on running cross-tabs on irrelevant demographics. Will your organization ever use or want to know how females in ZIP Code 13202 rate your customer service on Wednesdays from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM?

The best market research companies are able to strike a balance between an affordable yet informative report. They can show you the details and cross-tabs on the data that matters but they can also tweeze out the key highlights, themes, and recommendations from all of the data you receive. When your organization is reviewing costs for the next market research project, make sure the reporting charge reflects your needs.

Does set up and design change much from project to project?

Phone surveys involve extra time for CATI, mail surveys involve extra time to format for printing, and online surveys involve extra time for programming and testing. This additional time for each usually equals one another. Choose, but choose...wisely. In some projects which involve lots of scheduling and project management such as nationwide mystery shops where shoppers need to be trained, the setup costs will be high. But comparing a basic phone survey to an online survey to a mail survey, the setup costs will be relatively similar.

In Summary

Unfortunately, there is no "average cost" for market research as a whole. It's highly dependent on a number of factors including set up, fieldwork, and reporting. Typically the smaller the scope and fewer completes, the lesser the cost. Fieldwork is the largest variable in market research. Limiting the amount of person-to-person time to administer the fieldwork typically reduces costs. However, the trade-off is in the quality of the data. Some of the best market research comes from person-to-person interactions in focus groups, in-person interviews, and phone surveys. Choose, but choose wisely.

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Interested in conducting a market research project? Contact us at or call us at 315-303-2040. To learn more about our market research services click here. Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY

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