Low Cost Marketing Research

 There are extensive diversity of manager or owner’s prospect regarding marketing research such as ‘’ it is compulsory for business strategy’’ or ‘’ it costs too much and worthless’’ or ‘’ the result is not effective’’ and so on, those perception are actually right. It depends on what you expect to know and what benefit will you get from the research?

When we start doing marketing research, there are a hundred of things come up in our mind such as the research needs to be grounded on extraordinary idea which could identify the company, the research needs to be conducted with a tons of questionnaires, the data needs to be collected precisely and widely on the target consumers, high quality of collecting data technology associates with high cost of experienced experts, statistical analysis with high ability of computer software, a great deal of researchers and interviewers which may need to be motivated with reasonable compensation, and complicate implementation and procedures. Those may be nearly impossible for SMEs (Small medium enterprises) or low budget companies; however, it does not mean you can’t do those research processes above.

“Research” is actually part of your daily life.

Most people always believe that research is about a group of academic people or experts on the particular field engaged, the consequences of this perspective prompt most of managers or business owners to misunderstand that they don’t know about doing research and really can’t do it on their own as well as they disadvantage many big companies which have the research teams or have a big budget for marketing research. However, if they only consider that the research is to collect data in order to analyze the particular subject, then the outcome would be taken into account for good. As long as the research is easily defined in this way, we would start conducting the research in the daily life for example ‘’ I am heading to Sydney tomorrow, so I need to do some research about accommodation, food and interesting landmarks” “I did research on people around here, they are interested our product but there is no shop available’’ or “I went to the Victoria market last week and had a chance to talk to the customer who was having a look at our product but didn’t buy it, she liked the product but the package was too big, therefore she bought a smaller one from other brand.

When the word ‘’research’’ is considered to be something that closes to your life or even part of your daily life, you would easily conduct it at anywhere and anytime with low cost budget but it is so effective (McDaniel et al, 1996).

How to do effective low cost marketing research?

There are three basic principal of conducting the low cost marketing research

  • Being a good listener: everyone needs to listen in every comment, feedback of the consumers, most of the service providers regularly engaging with the consumers but lacking of attention for their feedback. Understanding, believe, and participation are required.
  • Truly researching on authentic environment: such as having a conversation with clients in our store or competitor shops, queue up for being served, or calling to the company’s call center as normal customers. These sorts of actions are considered to be marketing research as well.
  • Getting used to it: referring to the building of a researcher manner with critical thinking. The assumptions are made for storage to find the answers with the aim of business development at every opportunity. When you get used to it, you would realize that not only low cost but due to the volatility of the market, standing in the middle of the market would assist you to reflect all issues faster.

How to?

  1. Interviewing each client: it is identified to be the easiest research way with receiving the data as well as the emotion and the feeling directly from clients. The most appropriate interview meeting is where you meet them naturally, having an appointment at the convenience places, or phone interview would be also a good option. The interview topics should briefly have 4-5 questions. However, instead of being concern about all answers need to covered, interviewer should be interested in insight detail of each answer.
  2. Costumer panel: This approach is to invite a group of costumers to provide feedback in the casual atmosphere. This is the best channel to listen the customers because arranging group meeting usually not only provide the costumers to illustrate the issues but the atmosphere also encourage them to propose the solution.
  3. Ghost shopper: Being aware of costumer’s satisfaction and issues by bringing yourself into a sense of the costumer. This is usually undertaken in both your business and your competitors for comparison such as the service environment, price, and staff’s hospitality skills and so on.
  4. Simple test marketing: In some cases, accessing the insight costumer’s feedback may find difficulty to collect, therefore simply implementation is required. For example Ichitan Tea expected to test the taste of beverages, so they provided consumers free tastings in the booth but because of a great deal of participation in the event that’s difficult to collect the answers, therefore, they set up two tanks at the booth and tagging both tanks with ‘’like’’ and ‘’dislike’’ then count them to get the answers (Cunningham, 2014).
  5. Using the Internet: In case you have costumer’s email, you may send them questionnaires. In addition, you may post questionnaires on the website.
  6. Creating channels for costumers to contact us and provide feedback as many as possible: All customer feedback is always important in the development of the business. Your business never gets complain does not always mean they satisfy with your service and product, but it could illustrate your channel to communicate between your business and your customers.

What else you can get from doing low cost marketing research?

  • Building relationships between costumers and business. The consequences of this action would cause the customer to be proud of being part of the development or at least they would be happy that you care them and allow them to express their feeling.
  • Constantly get some ideas of creating or developing products, service and strategy.
  • Being aware of conducting research could cause direct experience of interaction between consumers and products which is much better than any sorts of advertisement.




Cunningham,S  2014, Marketing Genius Tan Passakornnatee Lists Ichitan Tea Drinks in Thailand, available from 26/4/2014, < http://www.forbes.com/sites/susancunningham/2014/04/26/marketing-genius-tan-passakornnatee-lists-ichitan-in-thailand/>


McDaniel, Care, Jr. and Gates, Roger, 1996, Contemporary Marketing Research, 3rd ed. Minneapolis/St.Pual: West Publishing Company.


Rosemary, Phipps and Craig, Simmons. Understanding

Customer. The Chartered Institute of Marketing: Butterworth

Heinemann Ltd., 1995.







8 thoughts on “Low Cost Marketing Research

  1. A great article, thanks for this.

    It makes me think about how money isn’t the only ‘cost’ associated with marketing. Most of these suggestions are time intensive for the vendor or marketer; for example spending time with consumers to find out what their needs are. I think you make a good point about the benefits which accompany these methods, such as relationship building and the opportunity to take ideas from consumers.

    The other thing to think about is probably the consumer’s time – filling out internet surveys etc costs them time and personally I find it damaging to my relationship with a brand when they ask me to complete a survey unless they 1) offer an incentive and 2) tell me how long the survey is likely to take. I think smarter brands use a hook such as ‘complete this 2 minute survey for a chance to win an iPad’ or similar. I think this is much smarter because for a relatively tiny cost (i.e. – a few hundred dollars for an iPad) they will receive much more data, give consumers the impression that their time is valued, and also they will obtain the contact details of potential consumers because they have the pretence of needing the info in case they are winner to incentivise people to enter their details.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment and your suggestion. You performed a very good point regarding the internet survey that their time for completing the survey needs to be taken into account as well.Thank you


  2. Good topic….Secondary research sources that are easily obtainable and relatively low cost (often free). Many of these inexpensive sources hold great potential to aid marketers in several ways. First, for marketers seeking information to help with marketing decisions, the material found through these sources can be extensive and, on many occasions, will meet the marketer’s needs. Second, even in situations where the available information is not sufficient quantity or quality to be used for marketing decision-making, the information could still be used to fill smaller needs, such as the need to enter a metric in a slide presentation. Third, the information located through these sources may suggest to the research seeker that conducting their own primary research is necessary in which case the secondary research could serve as a guide for how this can be done.


    • Thank you for your comment and your participation in detail of the way inexpensive sources perform the benefits to marketers and companies itself.


  3. Interesting article,I kind of found it hard to concentrate on what’s actually written on the article when consumers/customers were repeatedly referred to as “costumers” but overall I like the idea of low cost market research, as it’s some data that you can gather up by even everyday chit chat with your customers. If you operate something like a coffee shop or a butcher even, these easy 2 -3 questions asked can provide invaluable insight to your regular customer base atleast.


  4. As a marketer, everything that you do is research in one way or another… sad but true. Forget about looking at ads or visiting a retail outlet, or browsing the internet in ignorance ever again! Our organisations uses a variety of market research techniques and a host of agencies to work with us on both primary and secondary research. One of the most valuable sources of research is absolutely our customers.

    Both in terms of the data that we have which we can use to determine predictive models for churn and propensity to respond to promotional offers, but also to develop hypotheses which we can test with consumer panels and focus groups. Increasingly we are using a range of sources to test new product development, including online customer panels (usually several hundred engaged customers) as well as formal, statistically valid market research panels and methodologies. Whilst these methods are not cheap, they are the larger extension of the ad hoc approaches suggested above; and often lead to quite different results to the ‘sample of one’ type subjective dipstick measures described above.

    One last thing – while I would always say that good marketers should have a good gut instinct for consumer sentiment and what will work in the market with their customers, there’s no substitute for fact/evidence based decision making, and robust market research is the only real way to bridging the gap between intuition and investment.

    As a final point, this reminds me of an HBR blog I read recently which talked about how subject to bias marketing managers can be in imposing/projecting their own preferences onto customers when hypothesising about new products / enhancements or marketing strategy – really interesting piece which reminds me to always make sure I’ve done at least some sense-checking of my view in relation to what strategy or tactics will work best in any given scenario. in addition to this subjectivity, the piece also goes on to talk about a range of biases and traps to effective decision making.

    The moral of all that – don’t ignore the research (if it’s telling you something different to what you think is right) or view it in a way that confirms existing biases you might already have. Be objective and make sure you listen to all your research, not just the things you want to hear!

    Reference: https://hbr.org/2011/06/the-big-idea-before-you-make-that-big-decision/ar/1


  5. I read this article. I consider what you expect to know and what benefit you will get from research is really correct. We need to know as a marketer, why we need to do marketing research and why we need to reduce the cost of marketing research, and then we will consider what methods should be used to do the marketing research. According to this article, it shows how to reduce the cost of research and give some real examples that is good for your work. But there is need to add something. During market research be prepared to uncover technical limitations you weren’t expecting. Similarly, marketing research also has the role of guiding packing and advertising to play. In other words, marketing research is not only to help the company how to produce products but also help how to sell them that why marketing research is so important for every company. As a company leader, we need to consider how to use limited funds and resources to do marketing research that depend on what product you produce and sell. According to this article’s examples, I consider using internet is really good methods to reduce the cost of marketing research. You can add some information about this. All in all, this article is good I think. Thank you for your sharing.


  6. Research is an imminent tool for a marketer, if u have not done market research it means you are not equipped to go and conquer the market and certainly your competitors will be ahead of you. Therefore, marketers may like it or not but research is a necessary evil as it takes you from uncertainty to certainty and if appropriately done helps in targeting the most profitable target segment. Low-cost market research is a brilliant idea for firms who are averse to invest huge amount of money in such activities but one should keep in mind the pros and cons and the factors affecting the various tools and techniques used in low cost market research.


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