Top Tips for Working with Research Agencies

Having a good working relationship with your research agency is a vital factor in gaining insight that really drives forward your business. Using our years of experience working in partnership with clients, we’ve developed 4 key top tips for working alongside agencies and are pleased to share them below!





It may sound obvious but an accurate and detailed written brief is critical to the success of a project. Sharing your objectives and the background to the research really helps develop the most appropriate methodology, and focuses recommendations on what matters to you

2)      COSTS


Agencies understand the pressure to meet budgets and it therefore helps to know roughly the figure to work to – there’s no point spending time on an all singing, all dancing proposal if the budget will never stretch that far.

Your agency will however, be able to give different options and clearly explain the benefits that are to be gained from each. Your agency should also be clear on what is included in the final cost so that you can compare quotes from different companies. Apart from the fieldwork itself (venue costs, respondent incentives and interviewer fees), costs should include set up, data processing and analysis, along with interpretation and a face to face debrief. You will also need to be clear about what is not included (e.g. VAT and product purchasing) to avoid any nasty surprises once commissioned!

3)      TIMINGS


Letting an agency know any internal deadlines early will ensure they can work around them and plan fieldwork appropriately. Fieldwork is often fixed in terms of time and therefore it is usually the analysis time that suffers clearly not advisable!

There are certain things that can help to speed up the process, including agreeing the questionnaire early and discussing the format of the debrief. Also, it helps to be aware that once fieldwork is booked, interviewers require 1 week’s notification of cancellation or they need to be paid in full – cancellation charges are best avoided!

Here is a quick reminder about what the lifestage of a project generally includes:

  • Research Brief & proposal
  • Project Commissioned & PO raised
  • Set-up meetings or call
  • Agree output & timings
  • Select fieldwork locations and timings
  • Prepare paperwork
  • Book interviewers
  • Draft questionnaire
  • Questionnaire signed off
  • Questionnaire scripted / set-up / printed / distributed
  • Fieldwork
  • Coding of open-ended questions
  • Data processing
  • Checking data tables
  • Preparing report
  • Thinking about key findings, summary  & recommendations
  • Toplines
  • Debrief


 4)      PAPERWORK


There are often forms and other paperwork that seem insignificant but without which fieldwork cannot happen. Your agency will be able to tell you what you need for your specific project, but we’ve listed a couple of common ones below:

ü  Store authorisation – If interviewing in-store, we will need written permission from the store manager before interviewers are allowed in

ü  Ingredients disclaimer – if respondents are testing food or drink we need to provide an accurate list of ingredients so that respondents can check if they are allergic

ü  Confidentiality agreements – respondents are often privy to sensitive ideas and information, therefore check whether your company requires a confidentiality agreement to be signed by each respondent

We hope these tips have helped, and if you’d like to know more please enquire about our free training sessions for clients, including “The Essentials of Market Research”…

Becki Arnold is an Associate Director working in the product testing team.

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Becki Arnold
01962 842211
Article date - 13/07/2015
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