Whether you’re based in Silicon Valley (or the greater Bay Area) or from outside the region, finding a firm that can handle custom market research in the San Francisco area can be tricky. Many firms are UX-heavy and only specialize in UX research. Others may not offer custom-research solutions or have a lot of depth in complex B2B market research. Therefore, if you’re looking for an experienced, highly tailored San Francisco market research company that can handle complex projects, make sure you look for a firm that checks the following boxes:
A range of methodologies
“Market research” covers a huge range of types of research. If you’re looking specifically for custom research, you’ll likely need a firm that can handle both qualitative and quantitative research. This includes methodologies such as in-depth interviews (one-on-one, with subject matter experts, typically lasting 45 minutes to an hour), focus groups (online or offline) and ethnographies (observational research — both mobile and in-person). When interviewing firms, ask how they decide on qualitative and quantitative methodologies and how this would be tailored to your study.
The ability to find qualified participants
For qualitative studies, one of the most challenging aspects — especially for B2B studies — is finding the right participants to interview. Oftentimes, companies need to hear from decision-makers in the C-suite, and, as one can imagine, getting busy executives to participate in research studies can be tricky. For this reason, make sure you find a market research firm that has expertise in qualitative recruiting, with a proven track-record. Without the right participants, your project simply won’t be successful.
Another key aspect of research is finding a team of researchers who have depth and experience in moderating — for all types of studies. UX researchers (though great at their jobs) often aren’t trained in the art of moderating groups or even complex discussions on B2B topics that don’t involve UX. Look for a research firm with an experienced team in moderating, on a variety of brands (both B2B and B2C).
Ability to move fast and provide custom outputs
There are numerous large research firms, but with size comes more junior researchers assigned to complex projects, as well as slower-moving teams. The best research is iterative in nature, and for those who want a design-thinking approach to their research projects, this means that the research will need to be done in short “sprints” to align with product design, testing, and iteration. When looking for research firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to ask about their timelines, seniority of researchers, and the type of output they’ll produce. For example, some firms will provide a report, using the same template that all of their customers receive. However, what would work best to motivate your internal team to act on the research? Some teams respond better to video outputs; others thrive from hands-on workshops. Look for a firm that can customize their reporting and research outputs to meet your team’s needs.
Experience and reputation
Finally, when looking for a market research firm in San Francisco, look for firms that have been well-established, have a deep list of clients, and can provide testimonials and case studies.