There are many hidden costs related to market research. These expenses wait for you, camouflaged in the background and ready to ambush if you don’t spot them in time. Here is a breakout of some common hidden research costs:

Missed Quotas

Missing a response quota adds expense to your project because you must scramble to find replacement responses with Plan B, Plan C, or worse… the dreaded Plan D. These alternate sample sources can be expensive and might include panel providers, associations, trade groups, keyword advertising, email list vendors or corporate partnerships. When you build your sample plan, have a solid Plan A and execute it without waste so there is no need to pivot to a fall-back plan.

Translation Costs

If your research requires language translation, you may already know that translation is both expensive and crucial. It’s expensive because you need a high-quality translator with skills to maintain the spirit of your questions. And it’s crucial because language miscues cause confusion and lead you to faulty conclusions. Using a research platform designed to handle multiple languages for one survey is a big time-saver, but don’t then take two steps back with a second-rate translation.

Emerging Market Premiums

The US market research market is mature and there are dozens of vendors for any sort of research service you might need. That’s not so in emerging markets where sampling techniques, panels, analysis services and incentive fulfillment services can range from nascent to non-existent. This can drive up costs, both in time spent searching for services and in actual money as more of the services you need may be considered “custom”.

Unexpected Analysis

Maybe this has happened to you. You eagerly get all your survey data back only to realize it needs to be cleaned, or that you require a type of advanced analysis you didn’t anticipate. If you need to hire the analysis out, that just became a big new expense. Too many of these unexpected surprises will crash your cash.

There are two simple ways you can minimize the surprising shock of needing extra analysis. First, always run test responses for your survey before you launch to make sure your data comes back in the format you expect and doesn’t require cleaning. Next, create actual topline reports from your test data and present the results to yourself. If you can’t answer the questions you set out to answer, it means you’re headed for trouble with the real data and you need to adjust your survey design.

Qualitative / Quantitative Additions

Finally, it’s common to marry quantitative and qualitative research together to create context and depth in your findings. When you plan your budget, set money aside in your quantitative projects for a potential additive qualitative component and vice versa.


market research budget leaks