Your company needs to conduct research, and you have options: You can either choose to work with a professional market research firm or use an in-house do-it-yourself market research tool. Which should you use?
The answer is that it depends. Each option has its pros and cons, and may be suitable for different types of market research projects. Understanding the differences between DIY and professional market research firms can help you make an informed decision about the best option for your particular case.
Here are some points to consider:
DIY market research tools are typically less expensive than hiring an outside firm, and so it’s an attractive option for small companies that cannot afford to hire a firm. However, conducting your own research is time-consuming and increases the potential for researcher bias, which could be expensive to fix in the long run. In fact, it’s not uncommon for DIYers to end up hiring a professional to rectify issues with surveys that were constructed poorly.
Many companies choose to use DIY market research solutions because their employees are knowledgeable about their particular industry. Having this knowledge, they reason, will help with creating relevant questions for surveys. While industry knowledge is indeed a plus, inexperienced researchers can often create bias in a survey through questionnaire wording, and order and lack of sophistication in logic and randomization. Professional market research firms, by contrast, know how to design effective and unbiased surveys, which in turn ensures the quality of the responses.
The data quality of market research firms can be superior to what you would find in a DIY solution. This is because the firms have access to tools and analytical resources to better analyze the data. For example, many professional market research firms use advanced tools that allow quick approval or rejection of interviews, GPS location tracking to ascertain where surveys took place and silent voice recordings to know how questions were asked. Having these capabilities allows analysts to uncover data that may not have been discovered using a less sophisticated DIY option.
You want your projects to remain private and secure, and some larger companies opt for DIY market research because they are concerned about sharing internal data with a third party. However, a professional market research firm should be able to provide you with that peace of mind. Many firms use survey solutions that are protected with security services at multiple levels, including physical security, infrastructure security and application security. Moreover, professional market research firms can ensure that respondents remain anonymous—which may be more challenging if you choose to conduct your own research.
If you are conducting all of your research online in the same language, then DIY surveys could work very well for you. However, if you have to deal with special circumstances such as face-to-face surveys in remote locations with no internet access, then using a professional market research firm would likely be the better choice. Many firms use tools that provide the ability to collect data and run face-to-face surveys, even when offline. These solutions also have multi-language capabilities, allowing surveys to be easily translated at any point during a survey.
Which option is better for your company, DIY market research tools or a professional market research firm? The answer is that it depends on your specific circumstances. DIY research can be appropriate for smaller projects, but hiring a professional market research firm would probably be best for any complex survey that has high data quality requirements
Sometimes, companies opt for a combination of the two, depending on the project.
Whatever you decide, do your homework beforehand and make sure that the choice is the right one for your company.