White-labeling products and services have existed for a long time. It’s not often immediately thought of in the professional services space.
Still, it can be a fit if you are a brand or agency that needs an expert partner but you do not want to expose your client to some of the behind-the-scenes outsourcing.
In this article, we will discuss...
- The definition of white labeling
- Examples of white labeling
- How white labeling relates to professional market research services
- How the process works
- The pros and cons of white labeling your market research services
- How to choose the best white label market research partner
White labeling is defined as a company, organization, or brand selling its goods and services to another company, organization, or brand where the selling company allows the buying company to resell those products or services as their own.
Essentially, the original seller or originator of the products or services remains entirely behind the scenes, where the reseller typically sells the product or service at a higher rate and takes credit for the sale and benefits.
White labeling is a fairly common practice in business because it is mutually beneficial for both parties.
The originator of the product or service can continue to perform the work it’s best at and get paid for it.
At the same time, the reseller can often add new products or services to the portfolio very quickly without ramping up and incurring significant expenses around staff, technology, etc.
Here are a few examples of how companies utilize white labeling:
- The first example is where a software company may develop an eCommerce platform that operates behind the scenes but allows the buyer to resell the platform with its branding, custom design, etc., so it would appear to be a platform offered by the reseller.
- Another example would be a food manufacturer producing sunflower seeds and selling them to a retail brand where the retail brand takes the nuts, packages them into its bags with its branding, and sells them in stores. This is relatively common in the grocery industry.
- A final example closer to professional services might be an advertising agency hiring a subcontractor to design a logo for an automotive client. The subcontractor works behind the scenes doing the work and design, presenting the logo options to the agency, then sends it to the automotive client and is paid for the job. The agency then pays the subcontractor minus any margin added to what was charged to the automotive brand.
In this scenario, a market research firm typically manages the study, which includes design, execution, analysis, and reporting.
Those deliverables are shared with another market research firm, agency, or brand where that reseller takes credit for the outcomes.
The reseller often presents the findings as its own.
Example of white labeling market research
A simple example of white labeling market research services in action would be the following.
Let’s say a manufacturing company wants to conduct a customer persona study.
They currently work with a trusted advertising agency that has done some market research but doesn’t quite have the resources to conduct a persona study in the next 2 months.
The agency contacts a white-label market research firm like Drive Research and contracts with them to perform the study behind the scenes for the manufacturing client.
The market research firm never meets with the manufacturer, but all critical information is relayed to the research team to help execute the study.
The research firm produces a survey and collects data after the agency receives a sign-off on those documents.
The market research company manages the analysis and has a report for the agency, which digests the findings, asks some additional questions, and then presents the findings to the manufacturing client a week later.
Throughout the process, the market research firm often uses the reseller’s or agency’s templates so the work can appear to be completed by their team to remain entirely behind the senses.
There is typically no visible reference to the market research firm’s name, logo, branding, or color schemes.
Here is more information that explains the exact white labeling market research process and how it works.
Step 1. Customization
The client or reselling company shares its goals and objectives with the project, how the client would like to use the results, and any pertinent information to help the market research firm build a custom proposal.
Not only will they develop a custom proposal, but instruments used for the research will also be catered to your needs (e.g., survey draft, moderator’s guide).
Step 2. Data Collection
The firm executing the research will keep the client updated and informed so the reseller can then pass along those updates to the client.
Step 3. Analysis and reporting
This is the most essential part of the process outside the study's design and the instruments used.
In a service-oriented business, the final report is the most tangible piece of the survey where the buying client determines value and ROI.
The deliverable will likely come in a topline summary, a full PowerPoint executive summary-themed report with data visualizations, dashboards, infographics, live portals of question-by-question tabulations, or some other form.
In the case of market research services, the most significant benefit for a reseller to hire a company to perform white-label projects is the reseller can dip into the specialization and expertise of the partner without needing to develop any in-house capabilities.
It is an easy way to quickly turn around a project for a brand while not sacrificing any time or delay in building in-house resources.
Although, with every decision, comes pros and cons. Here are all things to consider before purchasing white labeled marketed research.
Pros Of White Labeling Market Research Services ✅
Access to Expertise
Hiring and receiving specialized knowledge, processes, platforms, tools, and staff directly from a market research firm can significantly benefit a brand or agency reselling those services.
Although there is a cost associated with hiring and executing through a partner, when compared to the total investment of hiring research staff, buying platforms, searching for the right data collection partners, and the time and resources to build out instruments and reports, there are efficiencies to white labeling.
Full-service market research studies can often take 80 to 200 hours from a professional team to execute.
If you are trying to manage this study in-house with little expertise, it can take more hours than this.
Hiring a white-label firm to run the study for you significantly reduces your time investment for the research project while still being able to monetize the service with your end client and benefit from it.
If you find the right partner, your agency or brand can quickly begin incorporating the sale of research services into your portfolio.
Since you have a deep bench and another company fueling and executing those research projects, time or resource constraints may never be an issue.
Focus on Core Services
Suppose you are an advertising agency specializing in creative, social media marketing, campaign development, messaging, etc.
In that case, you can continue focusing on your core competencies when you outsource your market research through a white-label partner. Hiring and building a research team will take away from that, so it must be the right strategic move.
Cons Of White Labeling Market Research Services ❌
Loss of Control
When you outsource the market research tasks to an expert, you are likely giving away complete control of the process.
You need to hire smart to ensure the market research firm is doing everything correctly and will be a seamless extension for your team.
Because the reseller needs to share information about its paying client to execute the market research, it can be a confidentiality/NDA concern.
Ensure your partner has the proper contracts in place with you and data security measures to protect you and your client.
No one will know that brand better if you are an agency or partner who has worked with the end client for many years.
Trying to quickly get a market research firm up to speed on this knowledge to execute a market research study can take time and effort. Some market research firms are better at this than others.
Regardless, you should review the design instruments and the report (at least) to add your touch and value from your relationship and intellectual knowledge with the end client before sharing.
Limited Brand Recognition
If the reseller continues to execute all of its research needs through an outsourced partner, it may lose its ability to establish its brand in this space.
Suppose everything good you are known for through research is all conducted by an outsourced third party.
In that case, you may need help to keep that advantage long-term, particularly if the third party ever decides to cease the relationship.
Choosing the right partner is a critical step in the white labeling process.
When you search for partners, you likely think about longer-term partners versus hiring a market research firm for a one-time project since there may be opportunities to scale their services with your brand quickly.
White labeling professional services offer many benefits to reselling and scaling swiftly since you do not have to invest expenses into staff, platforms, technology, or training.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a white label market research company:
Reputation and Track Record
Look for a market research partner with solid client satisfaction ratings, an online presence, positive reviews and ratings, and high-quality services. Have conversations via email and phone with pointed questions to help you vet.
For example, our market research company is proud of our hundreds of 5-star Google reviews, so we're happy to share them with our prospective clients.
Expertise in Your Industry
Find a partner that can be a reasonable extension of your team that has showcased its work and expertise in your industry or sector. This will help you get the market research firm up to speed on your projects more quickly if they can talk.
If you want to resell surveys, find a partner with a robust toolbox of survey experience and tools. If you resell focus groups, find a qualitative market research partner who excels with that methodology.
Flexibility is paramount here. Since the white-labeling relationship is tricky and fluid, you want to find a partner who recognizes the value and potential you bring to resell and scale their services.
Both parties should recognize that and value each other equally. Find a partner willing to customize their work and cater to your needs.
Data Security, Confidentiality, and Legal Agreements
Find a firm willing to sign confidentiality agreements and NDAs to protect you and your client and non-competes (to some extent) if you want to protect yourself from that market research firm working directly with your client and taking you out of the loop.
Have the market research firm complete an IT assessment or share data privacy controls.
Technology and Tools
Along with the professional service expertise, you should evaluate your partner based on some of the tools and platforms they might use to execute the research.
Since their service will reflect directly on you, vet accordingly.
For example, would you trust a partner using a more sophisticated survey platform or hire someone who uses Google Forms?
Communication and Collaboration
A business or person will never behave better than when trying to sell you on their company or services. Keep that in mind when you begin your outreach to find a partner.
The firm that replies the same day to your form fill versus the one that answers a week later reflects the responsiveness and turnaround you might expect during the actual project, too.
Ensure the partner is open to protecting your relationship with the client and performs careful and systematic communication given the circumstances.
Some market research firms may even be willing to work through your email domain if you need them to communicate with your client directly.
Sample Work and Deliverables
Ask for some sample report deliverables. All good market research firms have these, and they can showcase some of the reports and insights you might expect from your study.
Consider the size and capacity of the firm you are hiring.
Are they one or two people who prefer not to expend more than 40 hours a week in the twilight of their career, or is the firm an up-and-coming growth company looking to expand quickly?
Choose wisely depending on your needs and plans to scale research services.
Ask about billing and payment terms.
Because of the additional layer with white labeling, you’ll likely want to work with a firm with terms amendable to how you charge your end client so you can have money before paying the subcontractor.
Also, make sure the firm you are hiring aligns with your budget.
Are you interested in finding a white-label market research company for a single project or one you can scale with?
Drive Research is a full-service market research company that works with many agencies and brands as part of white-label relationships.
Use our contact form, email us, or call if you would like to explore working with our team.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at[email protected]
- Call us at888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
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.