Secrets from the Market Research Industry

Secrets from the Market Research Industry

What You Don’t Know Does Hurt You

Every industry has its secrets…those little things that clients “just don’t need to know.” But I’m a big believer in transparency. Especially when not knowing can mean the difference between doing what’s best for your business or making a mistake that can cost you millions, a word to the wise can go a long way.

So what do you need to watch out for when looking for a market research vendor? Here are my Top Three “Market Research Insider Secrets:”

carrotBait & Switch. You’re looking for a market research vendor, and one firm sends in the VP to pitch the project. She’s really bright and experienced, and you’re excited! Even though they’re more expensive, you’re convinced that you’re getting the star treatment.

But once the project starts, you’re stuck with a junior researcher as your primary point of contact. That awesome VP? Never to be seen again. This has happened to me so many times as a corporate researcher, and it’s probably happened to you, too. This is something that firms will do to attract business, but as the client in this kind of situation, it just doesn’t feel right.

Before you sign on, make sure you know exactly who’s going to be handling your business. You should ask:

    • Who will be my main point of contact?
    • What’s their experience?
    • Who’s writing the survey?
    • Who’s writing the report?


Shiny Beads. “Shiny beads” are those off-the-shelf solutions that research vendors push on clients. They’re the kind of solutions that have fancy sounding names and sound like a “proprietary methodology” that the supplier invented. Sure, there are definitely unique and special methods out there—but many vendors just use a combination of traditional methodologies with a fancy marketing spin for the sake of charging you a premium.

If you’re working with a good vendor, they should offer you solutions that are more than just flash. They should have a knack for customization by thinking hard about the problem at hand and pulling together a tailored approach for each initiative. Sure, style matters, but substance is going to make the difference for you and your business.

Brand Beware. Quick, name the first soda brand that comes to mind! Did Coke pop into your head? Why not, right? Coke is the biggest brand in the world—but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only (or the best) brand out there.

This “Coca-Cola Effect” happens when picking a market research vendor, too. The big name firms are more recognizable. Big firms have more to spend on advertising and attract the big splashy clients. Big firms offer a wider range of services and just feel “safer.” But smaller firms offer services that are often better than the larger ones, much more cost effective, and are less likely to give you the bait and switch.

Before you go for an obvious choice, it’s worth it to do a little digging.  Want to work closely with an experienced team? Interested in getting strategic insights that push your business further? Then look for a smaller firm, as they often have highly seasoned researchers that you can work with directly and tend to be more customer-service oriented than larger firms. No matter what, make sure you’re paying for quality service, not just a brand name.

Got questions about market research? Not sure about what you should be looking for? Ask away—I’d be happy to answer your questions. Just give me a call at 949-340-7568 or email me.