Choosing between managed and DIY market research

DIY market research platforms make it easier than ever to gather consumer insights quickly and cost effectively – but when is it best to use them?
21 April 2021
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Beth Howard

Head of Business Development, Kantar Marketplace

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Commissioning market research is a lot like remodelling your bathroom.

An odd comparison perhaps, but here’s why. Before starting a bathroom project, you’re faced with a decision: Do you do the work yourself, or hire a skilled contractor? The answer would depend on several factors, including the amount of time you had, your budget, as well as your (honest) assessment of your own practical skills.

Determining whether DIY market research is right for you requires a similar calculation but, fortunately, the final decision is not all or none. You can say yes to both DIY and managed research, using each in different circumstances.

Reasons to choose DIY market research

Reason #1: Time constraints

In a world that continues to change, businesses are being forced to adjust to more agile ways of working. And it shows in the data: DIY market research is growing; in fact, Esomar forecasts that turnover for the DIY research platform sector will be up $1.3billion in 2021.

If you want data to help you justify a decision for a meeting tomorrow, DIY market research platforms will be the most viable solution. Most DIY market research platforms now offer results in hours – whereas managed research can take days or even weeks. Some DIY solutions even offer real-time updates so you can track your study results as they come in. Long are the days of going with your gut, as DIY makes it easy to have valuable consumer feedback at your fingertips when you need it.

Reason #2: Value for money

As we continue to see a trend in shrinking budgets, you may find yourself in a position where you need to do more with less. Self-serve market research platforms are significantly less expensive than consultancy; a study can be about half the price of a fully serviced solution. And because the results are just as robust – and delivered via an online dashboard – DIY projects can create more long-term value as well.

A DIY market research platform with analytics based on validated methodologies can offer some useful advantages. For one thing, you have access to a central repository of all your previous studies. And the more powerful dashboards, like those offered on Kantar Marketplace, also make it easier to do meta-analysis across studies, which can be an opportunity to uncover additional insights. Essentially, choose the right platform and you don’t have to sacrifice quality in the name of speed or cost-effectiveness.

Reason #3: In-house expertise

Many companies have in-house insight experts who are more than comfortable running and interpreting their own studies. For these professionals, DIY market research has its advantages because the research design and fieldwork processes are expedited, allowing more time on each project for thoughtful analysis.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that you don't need to be an expert to benefit. DIY market research is increasingly accessible even to non-experts, and while early self-serve platforms may have been difficult without expert knowledge, the current generation is much more user-friendly.

Reasons to choose managed market research

Reason #1: Large scale or high-profile project

If you are working on a high profile or big budget project, it may be sensible to bring in added consultancy. In this scenario, a category expert can provide your stakeholders with additional context around your results, or even run a workshop as well.

But these days, even the biggest and most high-profile ideas can benefit from DIY tools. While you may seek out added consultancy in developing your ideas, for example when developing a big TV ad campaign, often times the execution of those ideas can be tested using a self-serve ad testing tool.

Reason #2: Unique or custom requirements

Automated consumer research requires a level of standardisation that may not suit every project. In such cases, you may want to pursue a managed research or DIT (do it together) solution that can account for all your requirements.

Even if you think you might need a custom project, it may still be worth exploring if an agile market research tool can deliver for you. The current generation of platforms offer a range of configuration options that allow you to fine tune the standard survey questions, like bespoke survey templates, in ways that fit your business’ needs.

Reason #3: Limited bandwidth

We’re all busy, especially now. As a self-serve user, you’ll need to find time to set up studies and then interpret the results – time that you simply may not have. In this scenario, managed research can be tempting because it comes with the added benefit of additional resources to help you get the project done.

If you’re suffering from limited bandwidth, it’s also worth remembering that your choice doesn’t have to be an all or none decision. Kantar Marketplace offers a serviced solution, which allows you to reap the speed and cost benefits of the platform with added support from our consultants. It can be the perfect option for teams with limited bandwidth or those who like to have help interpreting results.

Making the leap to DIY market research

Technology has vastly improved the quality of DIY market research and made it much easier to access. Once you’ve used DIY market research, it quickly becomes part of your consumer insights toolkit. And the more you use it, the more confident you become.

Want more like this?

Read: Welcome to the era of agile market research

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