Marketing Research leads to consumers' insights, which form the core thought process, the guiding light, for all aspects of the business. This includes everyone from the top management to the last mile worker, to which the organization, product and brand goals have to percolate, for the business to be able to focus all its energies in the most efficient way. This is difficult because the company which employs the research doesn’t know, if it has the best inputs possible or if applied it would result in an outcome as predicted by the agency, lets face it, it doesn’t work, it’s a complex world with many variables, the balance of which is tweaked with using the inputs from research.
A business can choose from the now many market research firms. Even a basic Google search could seem overwhelming, however putting the effort in choosing the ideal agencywill mean a world of difference to the impact it can bring. So here are some of our pointers among that many things you can choose to rate the agencies over during the selection process.
1. Understanding and exploration of Research objectives/Business Needs
Before the client starts looking for the right research partner, if is critical to clarity about the research outcomes or objective setting. For example, how the research objectives connect to the business objectives and how? This could as simple as knowing to do qualitative segmentation for defining the segments, and then confirming and sizing them through the quantitative research. There are several secondary sources online, which can always help the client inform themselves and work around the action items more clearly. Or to know, if the client needs to identify to right segment for their predetermined price point, or do a pricing or conjoint research to find out the price points of difference based on value or brand or product vs price they are willing to pay. This kind of clarity, helps the researcher prescribe the method and analytics tool for the most tailored outcome.
2. Credentials and Capabilities
The client should take a look at their overall capabilities or track record. This can involve, the size of the team, the years of experience, the experience in the category, relevant research done for the category, those specific case studies. The presence in the country or region or geography of interest. Global agencies have product set in methods, proven in other countries, the client should take a good detailed look at the method. Ask questions on how their method answers the questions of their business, thus establishing the confidence that the agency is capable.
While this might seem pretty obvious, it is selecting the right team with the experience and the right tools, that should make the cut. For the client can start with the client list, and ask the agency for similar work done in their category or segment or relevant research. The agency can present this in the form of the case study, which should have the problem/hypothesis, the method employed the insight gained and implement and crucially its in-market impact. It is best to choose an agency, which can show some in-market proven credentials. On top of this, the client should also go through the experience of the team being assigned to the task and their specific relevant experience. A note here, if the agency is global, then they are most likely to have standard product/method/tool box, it is best to ask for it track record in the market and its past applications and outcomes. Overall, the client should assess, the pedigree and history of tools, the team and the overall in-market proven experience. The key in this task is to be able to find the agency with the most “Meaningful & Relevant, In-Market proven” experience.
It is well known that money begets quality, but that was in the old world. In the new world, expensive solutions are now enabled for a fraction of the cost using technology. A simple example of this is the move from face to face to panel led data collection from quantitative or the increasingly common only In depth interviews or even focus groups. A variety of agencies will offer a range of solution to choose from at different levels of service at different price points. It is critical for the client to understand if the brief addresses the problem in the short run or at superficial level or is the agency offering a better research method and outcome. Then they need to see, if the converse if true, for example, do they need to buy the whole solution on offer, or can they choose the specific part of the solution they need. This can make a lot of difference to the investment the client has to make into the study. Overall, the ROI of the study is important, that if the research works, will the cost – benefit be worthwhile. The ideal scenario to be able to be able to find a solution at the price point, where the cost-benefit analysis optimum.
Experience tells you that a good process can do a large task, quickly in specialized silos. This is also a simple principle that be applied when looking at the time being offered by the agency. First things first, the timeline needed, or the date of insight delivery has to be in line with the client marketing or branding plan. What is the need of analysis of the data 3 months later, if the action is needed within 4 weeks. Different organization due to different core and peripherical capabilities can do certain things, faster, cheaper and better than others. The aim of the client should be to able to choose between the three, as per their priority of the business and the insight sought. Overall the timeline has to match the business plan, budget and priorities.
Other things to look for an agency are their technical tools, their analysis and recommendations or capability to give way forward, if they are able to and are interest in forming more than transactional relationship, and last but not the least a physical presence in the market the client operates and the availability of a team to service the client needs in the local market.