Earlier this year I wrote about how the reasons why a research project might take longer than you thought, now we are looking at why a project might cost more than you thought. Obviously they can be related, because the more time spent working on a project generally the more it will cost. We looked at
- Ever increasing input – when more amends and/or more people get involved
- Problems with fieldwork – eg the contact database isn’t as expected
- Missing or moving deadlines – missing one deadline will impact on project timescales
But there are occasions when costs increase for other reasons, here are four instances when costs might be more than you thought.
1 – Changing objectives
You might decide that you want to conduct a customer satisfaction programme, because you haven’t spoken to your customers for a few years and you feel it’s about time you asked for feedback. So we put together a simple online questionnaire and run a pilot study with a small section of your customer base. However, these results show that there is a much lower satisfaction score for customers who last bought in December. So the research programme is adjusted so that more focus is given to this audience to investigate exactly what the issue is.
2 – Smaller audience than expected
It could be that your audience is much smaller than anticipated, so rather than thinking that we had a pool of 2000 people to contact, it could be that actually there are only 300 (the changing objective above would lead to reduction in sample). If we were aiming for 50 telephone interviews, then it’s going to be more difficult to achieve this from 300 contacts, than if we had 2000. It will take longer to achieve because we are likely to need to make multiple call backs with the limited sample. All of which will lead to an increase in costs.
3 – Researching the unknown
When researching a new area then we sometimes have to make educated guesses. For example you might want to speak to people who run 5k at least 3 times a week. Whilst there is unlikely to be official data on this, we can look at existing research results and make a guesstimate. A 2019 study by UK Government stated that 6.8m people went running at least twice in 28 days, so that’s around 1 in 10 of population. But we don’t know for how long these people run, or how many run 3 times a week, plus we need to take into account groups of population who can’t run (eg children, less able bodied). It could be 1 in 20 of population or 1 in 25, or even fewer. It could end up being a needle in haystack situation.
4 – Results needed quickly
If you need the research to be completed quickly or in a hurry, then costs will increase. If interviewers are needed to work at short notice, or for longer hours then they will need to be paid at a higher rate. Or we might need to find additional temporary interviewers from another agency, which will mean paying an additional agency fee. It might be necessary to call on additional support which will cost more, or if the deadline requires weekend work then additional fees will be incurred.
I’m always totally transparent with my costs, for each project I put together a proposal which clearly lays out the various stages of the project and associated investment. The last thing I want to do is to send an invoice which is more than expected, which then leads to a delay in payment, which as an independent single person business means my cash flow is likely to be affected. But as described above there are cases when costs might increase.
If you want to talk about how market research can help your business, then I’d love to have a chat. Get in touch here www.acemr.co.uk/contact