It's unwise to pay too much for research, but it's worse to pay too little
With nearly 18 million South Africans using the Internet (AMPS), online market research is one of the country's fastest growing industries. With so many people online, asking questions on the web offers the quickest and most cost-effective research option available. But with such a significant business influence we need to examine the trend of market research clients continuing to push for research that is fast, good and cheap, and suppliers who typically expect clients to trade speed or quality for cost.
19 Aug 2015 12:01
John Ruskin, a leading art critic in the 1800s, may not have had access to Facebook and the like, but he cleverly articulated the argument between saving costs and risking quality when he said:
"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do."
This begs the question... How much is too much for online research and when is it too little?
As a relatively new and innovative research technique, it is important for companies to budget for online research that is affordable, without risking quality. Here are three simple guidelines on what should be budgeted for in your online research and why:
- It is never too much when experts guide the research process; it is always too little when technology takes precedence.
Technology has had a remarkable impact on the research process in recent years. Computers are crucial partners in this process, and can reduce the time and costs of any online project.
However, computers can be programmed to automate processes and carry out routine functions with great accuracy, but they cannot actively solve problems as they arise, interact with respondents, generate insights or interpret data. A qualified human researcher has the necessary skills and experience to perform all of these functions.
So, it is worthwhile paying for qualified researchers to guide your online research.
- It is never too much when the research design will meet your unique needs; it is always too little when you try to fit your objectives to the research design.
Online research may take many forms, and the advantage of this is its flexibility to be tailored to the client's specific needs. Thus online research should be designed to answer a specific client question, to meet the objectives agreed upon with the client before the research, or to solve the client's problem.
However, research companies may offer one-size-fits-all solutions, with no initial in-depth briefing session to establish the client's requirements. In effect, the client's needs are adjusted to fit the research design, which reduces costs but may not give the client what they want in the end.
So, it is better to work with an online research partner that first listens to what you need and then designs the research to meet these needs.
- It is never too much when the insights are valuable; it is always too little when they aren't.
Online research that concludes with valuable insights can bring about big wins for the client and is well worth the money invested in the research.
However, in an effort to reduce research costs, clients may decide to take responsibility for their own research design and insight generation, even when they are not experts in this field. This may decrease a project's costs, but often ends with the client realising that the discount they received on the price was clearly paid for in the quality of the results.
So, it is better to spend money on valuable insights and recommendations, than save money and get raw data that requires interpretation.
Taking John Ruskin's advice to heart, the risk of losing everything is very plausible when paying too little and throwing quality overboard. With significant advances in research, there is no reason why clients cannot opt for speed, quality and
affordability. The three tips above should guide you in determining whether you are getting the quality you are paying for.