How do you evaluate the credentials of a market research agency? There are no specific professional qualifications that an agency needs to have to work in the field of market research. This often makes it a little difficult to assess their potential. You need to take time to find out the relevant aspects of the agency to determine whether they are a good choice.
Let's take a look at the points that make a market research agency qualified for the task.
The Qualitative Factor: If your project involves in-depth interviews and focus groups, the key to success is the moderator. Ask the agency about the qualification and experience of the professional moderating the groups or handling the interviews.
If the moderator assigned to your project has completed formal training and years of experience doing the same thing, you can be assured about the quality of the work. Learning on the job is also possible; however, it is best if the professional has appropriate certification in the field.
Another point to focus on is whether the agency has the moderators on the staff or appoints them on a contractual basis. It doesn't make much difference, but it is best if they have the right credentials and experience in the industry, subject and type of work you want.
The Quantitative Approach: Certain market research projects depend entirely on statistical analysis. If your project is similar, you need to pay attention to the credentials and experience of the professionals who would be handling this aspect of the task.
If statistical analysis forms the core of the project, it is best to choose an agency that has in-house professionals for this. However, you may also choose an agency that outsources the complex statistical analysis tasks to qualified and experienced professionals. This is a possibility if you have selected an agency with expertise in your industry niche.
Whether the statistical analysis is done in-house or outsourced, you need to ask about the models and methods used for the purpose. A competent agency uses factor analysis, tradeoff analysis and principal components analysis and applies latent class modelling and hierarchical bayes modelling to arrive at the results.
When you request for information from the agency, ask about the techniques they apply for quantitative analysis. If they use the current set of analytical tools, they are well-versed with the process and can handle your project properly.
The Professional Associations: Which professional associations does the agency belong to? Any reputable agency would have the membership of the professional associations in the field of market research. It would also adhere to the guidelines and directives of the associations to ensure that they follow the best-in-class practices.
Take for example, Redshift Research. It is a Market Research Society partner. It adheres to the Code of Conduct set by the Market Research Society. It also follows the guidelines of ESOMAR, one of the coveted professional associations.
The Engagements: The qualified and experienced market research professionals from reputable agencies are often invited to business meetings and conferences to act as guest speakers. Check whether an agency has such professionals in their in-house staff. This would help you understand their proficiency in the field.
The Publications: Look for published articles and research papers on related topics written by the market research professionals working with an agency. Going through them can give you an insight into the acumen and expertise of the market researchers.
It takes time and effort to evaluate the credentials of a market research agency. It is not something you can do in a second. Determine the specific requirements you have in mind for your market research project. Pay attention to whether a qualitative or quantitative approach would work and assess the relevant details.
Oliver Taylor is a market research analyst. He offers ideas, tips and suggestions for businesses to use the market research to their advantage. He suggests that you consider the right points to select the right market research agency. An agency such as Redshift Research can ensure accurate and reliable results.