Every year, millions of businesses decide to invest in market research. Many (if not most) turn to market research companies to meet their specific needs. But how should a company choose its market research partner? According to the ESOMAR directory, at least 380 market research companies operate in the United States alone! These companies range from large multi-nationals to small, niche insight providers. Choosing one can be a daunting task. But evaluating these key factors will make your job easier (we hope!):
1. Customer Service: Don’t settle for a market research company that will simply fulfill your order. Look for one that goes above and beyond! Among other things, the company should welcome your involvement, your questions, and any special requests. It should offer expert guidance (see #3 below) regarding survey design and questions. Moreover, it should conduct appropriate analysis and explain the results. At Op4G, we have adopted a highly consultative approach with all our clients, promoting mutual understanding and trust.
2. Panel and Data Quality: What good is poor quality data? Safeguard yourself by choosing a company with a sizable and diverse panel that can provide the right people at the right time. Also, ensure that the company employs various quality control measures. Op4G, for instance, measures response times to weed out “racers”, integrates red-herring questions to catch inattentive panelists, and uses ReCAPTCHA and double opt-ins to ward off bots. We also track panelists (using their IP addresses, CleanID, and digital fingerprint) to prevent re-entry into surveys. To learn more about Op4G’s data quality assurance efforts, click here.
3. Industry Knowledge: A principle reason for hiring a market research firm is their expertise in conducting research and analyzing the resulting data. Clients want to work with a well-versed research team and certainly don't want their project to be the guinea pig. Thus, be sure to consider the age of the firm, how many studies it has conducted, as well as the backgrounds and experience of staff. Op4G is proud to have over 10 years in the market research space. Our veteran staff of world-class programmers, analysts, project managers, and research experts have over a century of combined experience.
4. Responsiveness: In our increasingly fast-paced world, responsiveness is more important that ever. All organizations want to work with a market research supplier that can deliver insights in a relatively short amount of time. So select a firm with a proven record of providing strong—but rapid—results. Firms get extra points if they also guarantee timelines, respond to questions promptly, and share regular updates. At Op4G, we offer 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week (yes, even on weekends). This has allowed us to turnaround projects with unparalleled speed and responsiveness.
5. Pricing: In all companies, resources are finite. Seek out a research firm that fits your company’s budget or that has a “pick and mix menu of methodologies and costs." But buyer beware! Low cost products are often less accurate or comprehensive. Do research and comparison-shopping to ensure value for your dollar.
6. Values: Whether motivated by ethics, laws, or profits, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral component of many modern business plans. One approach to CSR is to “incorporate [it] directly into...procurement”, i.e. by sourcing products or services from socially minded organizations. This can—and should—include market research, so ask prospective partners about their philanthropic work. Part of Op4G’s founding mission is to expand funding for nonprofit organizations by requiring panelists to donate at least 25% of their earnings to one of our 300+ partners. This model has allowed us to donate nearly half a million dollars to nonprofit organizations to date!