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If you’re in the process of product concept testing, creating an ad campaign, or even looking for ways to improve the customer experience, a market research firm is (hopefully) is on top of your list for tackling your questions.

Trying to find a market research firm can be intimidating – and overwhelming. There are thousands of firms, and multiple directories, such as GreenBook.org, to help you sort through the options. Once you’ve created your shortlist, spend some time researching the firm and asking them questions. In particular, make sure you look for the following qualities in a market research firm.

Experience in a broad range of industries

There are some market research firms that only specialize in a certain sector (such as healthcare). While specialties are good, market research is one of those fields where the more industries a firm has experience in, the better. With each project, the company’s researchers should be bringing in new ways to approach the study, recruit participants, and craft the qualitative research to maximize participant discussion and insights. Look for firms that have a broad depth of clients – in both B2B and B2C – and with an extensive range of industry sectors. Ask to see their client list, and make sure to ask if they can share case studies.

A market research firm that uses the latest technology

Market research, like most industries, has evolved with technology. In-person qualitative research is still one of the best ways to understand customer opinions, but to supplement in-person research, the company should be adept at using the latest suite of technology in market research, including mobile ethnographies, online panels, and online focus groups. Online methodologies have many advantages, including convenience and cost, and they’re a great supplement to in-person or phone interviews.

A team of qualitative and quantitative researchers with a lot of experience

Qualitative and quantitative research are fields that can be learned in an academic setting, but they are perfected with real-world practice. Designing a study and moderating focus groups take experience. People are difficult to study and understand, and researchers who have spent a lot of time in the field are able to iterate and use tactics to get the most insights out study design. Moreover, the longer that the researchers have been in the field, the more exposure they will have had to a variety of industries and types of studies (see above!).

Custom study design for each research project

Finally, when looking for a market research firm, make sure that they will design a custom market research project for you. A lot of the larger firms will apply off-the-shelf study designs to projects, and because they have so many team members, you’re not as likely to get the same depth of analysis in the study. Ideally, look for a boutique-size firm that has researchers who have spent at least a decade in qualitative research.

And of course, make sure they’re easy to work with!

Personable, great customer service goes really far. Get to know the market research firm you’re interested in: Ask to have in-person meetings. Spend time understanding their methodology, and make sure you like their style.

Looking for a market research firm? InterQ has a wealth of experience in a variety of industries. Request a proposal >

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