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How to write a market research brief?

At the STR Tourism and Consumer Insights department, we are frequently asked for quotes and proposals from companies that require market research services. In most cases, however, we need to clarify a few specifics before we can outline an approach and costs.

In this blog, we’re giving some guidance on how to write a market research brief so you are able to provide the information every market research company will be looking for before providing a quote.

1. Write a few sentences about yourself

It is always useful to know the sector and industry you work in as well as the client-base or stakeholders you serve. It would also be useful to know the department you work in (e.g. marketing, sales, product development, etc.).

2. Identify what you want to achieve from the market research?

The ideal brief clarifies what exactly you require market research services for. For example, the research objective could be to evaluate customer satisfaction with a product; or you may want to evaluate the success of a marketing campaign.

Every market research company is keen to understand the main research objective as well as additional objectives that may cluster around your main question.

If you struggle to identify your research question(s) it may help to think of the statements and claims you would like to make as a result of the study. For example, you may want to be able to say things like: “Our market research has found that 90% are satisfied with X”. Or: “Our market research has found that the preferred strap-line is…”

3. Provide information of your target audience

Your target audience could simply be a nationally representative sample of the British population. But depending on your research objectives and your customer base, your target audience may also be quite difficult to reach. For example, in 2015 we were commissioned to evaluate the success of a veterinary service’s marketing campaign run in Bournemouth. As a result, the target audience were pet owners in the area.

At STR, we frequently work with destination marketing bureaus, hotels and other tourism and travel related businesses. If your target audience were frequent travellers, you could tap into our panel comprised of thousands of international travellers.

Bear in mind that market research services can be provided more cost-effectively if you hold contact details (e.g. email addresses or telephone numbers) of those you seek feedback from.

In summary, for a market research company to provide a quote, your brief should clearly identify the target audience that you seek feedback from and please do specify if you hold a database of your target audience.

4. Clarify your preferred methodology

You should approach a full-service market research company for a quote to make sure you get a balanced recommendation. But regardless of that recommendation you may have your own ideas about the best research approach and you should share your view with the market research company you contact.

Most commonly market research services follow either qualitative – e.g. focus groups, depth-interviews – or quantitative approaches – e.g. online surveys, telephone interviews, face-to-face surveys.

5. Share your timescales

The ideal market research brief identifies the project milestones and time references from agency appointment, set-up meeting to delivery of final report or debrief (if required).

6. Establish the deliverables

Do you want the study’s findings to be presented in a raw data format such as excel or a discursive written report? Do you also require the market research company to provide a face-to-face debrief? A good brief summarises how you expect the findings from market research services to be presented and delivered.

7. Your budget for the market research services you require

Every market research company is keen to know the budget you are working with. This is not a simple-minded evaluation of “what’s in it for me”, but rather a case of tailoring the services to your specifications. An indication of budgets informs all aspects of the market research – from sampling, methodology to deliverable.

As a potential client, try to remain realistic: If your audience is hard to reach, the preferred methodology is labour-intense, the reporting requirements exhaustive but your budget is tight, be prepared for a market research company to make recommendations on what else is possible within that budget.


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