How Much Should Market Research Cost?

market research pricingHow much is market research worth? How much are insights worth? How much are insights that will make a difference for your business worth?

These are all questions that are on the minds of many in the market research community.

Recent economic challenges have made it more and more difficult for clients to justify spending money on a range of outside services – and market research is certainly no exception.  This dynamic has accelerated a trend in recent years toward downward pricing pressure on market research services.

Professional supplier-side researchers have sought for years to explain the value of market research, and, importantly, arm their brothers and sisters in corporate market research departments with justifiable explanations of the return-on-investment of their companies’ research expenditures.

Some have suggested that a radical, results-based model should be instituted; that research agencies’ compensation should vary depending on the economic value created by the insights provided.  There are serious hurdles, of course, to implementing that sort of model.

In a recent post in GreenBook Blog entitled “Should Research Agencies be Paid for the Value of Their Insights?”Edward Appleton concludes after an interesting review that “insights in whatever form or shape, however delivered, will remain extremely value for the foreseeable future, and market forces will answer the value question for us.”

Technology – the culprit to some, the savior to others – has undoubtedly encouraged a trend toward commoditization of market research.  The starkest example of this trend is in the online sample world, where per-respondent access to female primary grocery shoppers has gotten microscopically low, and even B2B decision makers can be found for a bargain if you know where to look.

This blog’s sponsor, Survey Analytics, is a proponent of commoditization in the research arena.  The company’s do-it-yourself software is, with others, part of the trend toward “faster/better/cheaper.”  Indeed, the company recently announced the first-ever flat rate pricing for creation of custom market research panels.

As it has done in so many industries, technology empowers the consumer.  In this case, the consumer is the corporate market researcher – the consumer of insights, as it were.  Technology has allowed them many new choices.  Ultimately, as they are at the top of the purchasing chain, they as a market force will decide which technology, which people and which companies create value for them.  And it makes no difference whether that idea makes research suppliers uncomfortable.

About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.


  1. Marionhertz says:

    I am a Focus Group recruiter and feel that considerable monies can be saved on qualititative market research. A client can meet with his selected Group ( customers, potential customers, lapsed customers etc) recruited by someone like myself, and ask directly the questions he wants answered. He can go off on any tangent that occurs rather than a moderator with a set ‘script’. I call it Boardroom to Basics, and am hoping to set up this operation in the near future. The total cost would be less than £500.

  2. Interesting read. Advertising has moved to a performance-based pricing model, and incumbents in the market research industry will probably have to follow suite, or move to alternative business models.

    I’ve just created the world’s only crowd-sorcing website devoted to Pricing research ( For a fixed price (~GBP300) we let companies ask a panel of global pricing experts and thought-leaders what price they should charge and why

  3. Hi Marionhertz, you managed to set this up?

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