The Cost of Good Market Research

ESOMAR recently published the results of its eighth annual Global Prices Study 2010, which evaluates the pricing of different types of market research around the world.

One of the interesting points highlighted by the study – which was conducted among 100 countries – was the huge variety, not only of prices, but also of research methodologies favoured or employed in different geographies. For example, online research is not available in every market; similarly, face-to-face interviewing is not conducted everywhere.

However, one of the most notable findings from the perspective of B2B International, which researches markets worldwide from its offices in the UK, USA and China, was the fact that the USA topped the rankings as the most expensive market globally in which to conduct research.

Matthew Harrison, Director of our New York office, explains why the results of the survey did not come as a surprise to him:

“There are actually a number of fairly understandable reasons as to why the cost of research in the United States can seem high. Firstly, it’s a pretty large country, which brings with it all the challenges you would expect when reaching respondents across a wide geographical area – not to mention that a larger sample size is often sought in order to give a true reflection of opinions and facts.”

“Secondly, of course, the US boasts a high standard of living and high average incomes. As a result, those involved at every stage of the research process – from focus group venues to online survey providers through to full service agencies such as ourselves – incur higher costs, which ultimately have to be passed on to the end client.”

“It would, however, be remiss of me not to point out that the United States is probably the most developed and advanced research market in the world, with many top-class market researchers. Equally, American research buyers are very sophisticated and require a high level of analysis which needs to be built into the cost of the study.”

Harrison, however, additionally points to a slightly more unusual contributor to the high prices associated with the US:

“Another consideration to be taken into account is the high reliance of many business executives on voicemail. Whereas a small number of attempts at reaching an individual may be necessary in many parts of the world, in America it is not uncommon to ring a business respondent seven or eight times in order to secure a telephone interview with them.”

These facts aside, Harrison is keen to point out that while the actual price of research in the States may appear on the high side, the return on investment gained from good quality market research should never, ever be underestimated.

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