One dilemma that often confronts our marketing research clients is when do I start? The answer usually depends on a number of factors.  About a month ago, Vance discussed engaging market research sooner rather than later, which by default is always a good directive to follow.  Keeping that thought in mind, here are five different dynamics to consider if you are wondering when to start your market research study:

1)     The Calendar – This is often the most mulled over factor. Workplans naturally gravitate towards starting a project at the beginning of a month, beginning of a quarter, or beginning of a year.  If nothing else, this is a good default factor if you have no other driving force.  Many clients like to start their ongoing monthly fieldwork projects in January because it creates a nice yearly trending pattern. 

2)    The Fieldwork – This factor is the largest variable when reviewing a timeline to start and finish a study.  If you need results for a management presentation on December 13, you won’t want to sign-off and engage your market research vendor to conduct a 1,000 complete image and awareness study on December 6.  Sure, the research team can hammer out a survey script and market research report quickly, but large data collection projects take time.  This factor also applies to doing the fieldwork at a specific time in the year.  For instance, if you make major staffing changes and retrain employees through the month of July, the right time for market research would be doing a baseline mystery shopping study in June and then a follow-up wave in August.

3)    The Industry (B2B) – Depending on the industry you will be researching, you should keep in mind busy times of the year for B2B employees.  For example, you wouldn’t want to do a survey with accountants in March and April; you wouldn’t want to do a survey with college admissions staff in August; etc.  If your target B2B audience is occupied, they will be extremely less likely to respond to the research (as RMS has learned the hard way in the past), but sometimes you have no choice.

4)    The Consumer/Respondent (B2C) – Similar to consideration paid to B2B employees and their busy times of the year, you also should keep this in mind for your B2C research.  For example, you shouldn’t be surveying parents and the community on their school district during the summer months.  An example of using market research at the right time would be surveying new members at gyms in January and February – as you’ll enhance your pool of respondents.

5)    The Budget – This often goes hand-in-hand with the Calendar.  When the calendar or the fiscal year turns over for a company, so does the yearly budget.  Meaning clients either: a) have additional dollars to use up before the end of their fiscal year or b) have fresh dollars to spend at the beginning of their fiscal year.  If money is the major determining criteria for commissioning market research, than the budget will probably have more impact than any other dynamic listed here.

 when is the right time for market research? 

Do you have questions about the right time for market research?  Contact our Director of  Business Development, Sandy Baker, at (315) 635-9802 or email her at