ESOMAR’s latest Prices Study, the seventh such study conducted by the organisation since 1982 and its most extensive to date, reveals some interesting trends in market research pricing globally.
The report obtained responses from 592 market research agencies in 95 countries, with enough data being obtained from 63 of these nations for reliable international comparisons to be drawn. Quotations were received from agencies for eight hypothetical research projects, each with a specific methodology. In addition, tariff data was also sought for the daily charge per junior and senior researcher, as well as the cost of an hour’s use of a call centre.
In the first of a two-part post detailing the main findings of the report, we look firstly at variations in market research prices from one nation to another, and at how local conditions can have a marked impact upon costs:
The highest and lowest
The Prices Study contains a wealth of information about eight projects, and specific activities, across 63 countries. Nevertheless, there will always be interest in which countries are the most and least expensive. Despite this being an easy question, the answer is not easy to provide. To compare countries one first has to pick a type of project, for example focus groups with consumers, or a telephone tracker with businessmen. The most expensive country for four focus groups was USA, with the UK second. However, the most expensive country to conduct a Usage and Attitude study online is Finland, followed by France.
In order to create an overall ‘Global Index’, a composite score was calculated using a representative quantitative and qualitative study, where an index value of 100 represents the mid-point. The index is based on averaged indices from the cheapest option in each country for the Usage and Attitude project and the focus group project which were the two projects with the most responses to reflect prices for relatively typical quantitative and qualitative projects. The tables below detail the 20 most expensive and 20 cheapest countries for research:
No global research project is truly uniform in the way it is undertaken in each market. The Prices Study highlighted a number of factors, which will be familiar to those who regularly conduct international research.
Many markets do not yet have online as an option, and some do not have telephone as an option yet. In some markets telephone is in decline because fixed phones are in decline, particularly in countries like Finland where about 50% of homes are mobile phone only. In Australia and USA most agencies were not able or willing to quote for door-to-door research, whilst in Singapore door-to-door is preferred to Central Location Testing. In some countries it is normal to specify that one moderator will conduct all the focus groups (if the number is small), but in other countries the moderator has to be of the same gender or group as the participants.
The message from the research is clear. The cheapest way to conduct a global research project is via multiple modes, varying by country. Any attempt to fix on a single methodology will result in much higher costs, and may not be possible.
The above article orginally appeared in the October 2007 edition of Research World