4 Reasons Not to Do In-House Market Research

Corporate research teams bring expertise and smarts, but some pitfalls must be considered when deciding whether to do marketing research in-house.


Abandoned House

Bringing the perspectives, opinions and information about your buyers into your company’s marketing mix will help your brand thrive. Who better to do this work than the very marketers who study buyers daily?

Maybe. But there are many reasons not to do in-house market research.

1. Defensiveness

Marketing research asks buyers to be honest about the brand, product and company. The primary interactions buyers and prospects have with a brand are put into the marketplace by the marketing team. So it can be hard to hear all of this unbridled honesty. Human nature means we protect ourselves from hearing negative things about ourselves and our work. This could mean needed improvements are missed due to natural defending on the part of marketers.

2. Too Knowledgeable to Encourage Participant Input

Especially in qualitative research such as focus groups, in-depth interviews and ethnography, the researcher’s responses to the participant are the key to getting quality data. An in-house researcher might know too much and feel too much. If someone in a focus group says something blatantly wrong, a professional moderator will use this as an opportunity to understand the very real perceptions that exist about the brand, and will keep the conversation going to learn more about where it comes from and how other consumers might counter it, or not. It’s hard to keep this up if its your information they are mistaken about.

3. Getting Mired in the Details

In analyzing data, whether from surveys or online qualitative, it can be tempting to overlook ideas, reactions and opinions that seem too hard for your company to act upon. A professional researcher will represent the strength and emotion connected to the buyer’s point of view, regardless of how complex the company’s response might need to be. It can be easy to focus on simpler-to-implement research results if you know too much about how, and who, might be affected.

4. Methodology Limited to Current Expertise

There tend to be a small number of researchers on a team in all but the most comprehensive insights organizations. So if all research is conducted in-house, newer methodologies may be passed over in favor of the tried and true. This may be effective for day to day information gathering, but may mean bigger results and recommendations aren’t discovered.

Research Tech Tools

Technology-only survey tools like SurveyMonkey or the more sophisticated SurveyGizmo can empower even corporate researchers new to the field. It’s important to get training for the staff using these tools, and to make sure they understand the basics of sampling and statistically relevant results.

Most companies and corporate research teams continue to outsource portions of their needed work, especially qualitative research. They understand why not to do in-house market research.

Colorado-based market research consultant Jennifer Cooper leads BuyerSynthesis, helping brands grow revenues by better understanding their buyers. She can be reached at info@buyersynthesis.com.

Photo by Moyan Brenn


2 thoughts on “4 Reasons Not to Do In-House Market Research

  1. Pingback: How to Get Funding by Telling Your Brand Story

  2. Pingback: How to Conduct a Focus Group

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