Newbies to market research might assume, “I can’t afford it.” With continuous strain on budgets, market research is one of the most common components of a budget to be cut. Management often feels as though there are more important pieces of the business plan to spend money on and that market research can always wait until next year. But what management often fails to realize is that a little money spent in this year’s budget for market research may produce cost savings down the road.

budget friendly market research

So for those who are looking to do some market research but do not have large budgets, here are four options for budget friendly market research:

1) Quick Pulse Telephone Survey – What is a quick pulse survey? Quick pulse surveys are designed to gather immediate feedback through a short three- to five-minute, 10- to 15-question survey. Virtually all of the questions are close-ended to streamline the administration. This type of market research can be turned around within a week or two and a basic quick pulse telephone survey can cost as little as $5,000. Some examples of quick pulse surveys we have done in the past cover such topics as: advertising awareness to improve ROI, closed account surveys for financial institutions to find out why customers/members left and community surveys to predict how residents will vote on upcoming initiatives, among many others.

2) In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) – The benefit of IDIs is that you can gather a lot of in-depth information and data by talking to a small segment of people. It works the opposite angle of what you would get from a quick pulse survey. A quick pulse survey is designed to get a lot of completes using a shorter number of questions where an IDI project is designed to get a small number of completes using a larger number of questions. This qualitative methodology is good for exploring topics where quantitative data or predictive analytics is not necessary. These IDI projects can be completed for as little as $4,000.

3) Online Survey – When a business commissions a telephone survey, a lot of that cost is tied up in call center time spent by staff administering the survey over the phone to respondents. Using an online survey removes that significant cost. You’ll still be paying for survey set up and testing as well as reporting, but the fieldwork cost or cost-per-complete (CPC) may be and should be far less than what you would pay for a survey of the same length over the phone. A simple and short online survey to customers could cost as little as $2,500 to $3,000 – depending on the length audience, and anticipated incidence rate.

4) Data Analysis – Perhaps you collect a bunch of data for your business but you just don’t have the time to really dig-in and research it to pull out key takeaways. Market research suppliers can be hired strictly to review your data and provide insights to your business. For example, if you collect customer data when they sign-up for your service or purchase products, there are a lot of valuable insights that can be pulled from that. Analysts can explore frequency of purchase, ZIP code breakdowns of customer locations, run statistics for how customers initially heard/saw your business, etc. This can be done through a pre-determined project fee or a time and materials basis for as little as $1,000 to $2,000.

Market research doesn’t always have to be expensive. Valuable insights can be gathered from budget friendly options like those touched upon above. If you are interested in exploring how market research can help your business, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at or by calling (315) 635-9802. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY.