If you haven’t written a research brief before, don’t worry! We’ve outlined some ideas below which should help you prepare your thoughts. But if you prefer, just pick up the phone and we’ll be glad to help you and prepare a research proposal for you.
1. Background: About your company
It always helps to provide a brief introduction to your company which will help research agencies better understand your market and your customers. Rest assured that we treat everything you tell us in confidence. Your background section should include:
- Company name and website
- Your industry sector and how your company fits in
- Detail about your products and services (especially the ones you are interested in discovering more about)
- Any other organisations involved in the project (e.g. advertising agency, branding or packaging company or consultant) if applicable
- A little about your target market who you market to
2. Business and Research Objectives
Your business and research objectives are arguably the most important area to focus on in your brief – so spend most of your time on these.
Your Business Objectives will give the research agency important understanding of what problems or issues the research is trying to achieve. For example, your business issues may relate to problems your are facing, such as; competitor activity, declining sales, low satisfaction or to launch a new product. Alternatively, if there is no obvious business decision then it could simply be about learning new insights to gain a competitive advantage or measuring customer metrics (e.g. customer satisfaction, brand awareness etc).
Whilst your Research Objectives relate to the specific insights you want to learn or measure and particular questions you want to ask in your research. For example, the research objective may be to find out what your customers think of your product service you provide. Or it could be broader in terms of understanding how customers behave (e.g. how they use or shop for your products).
3. Target customer
Your research objectives should also indicate who you feel the research should be involving. Is it your current customers or broader target market, lapsed users or even non-users? You should try to describe your audience in as much detail as possible, such as; age, gender, income, occupation, location, company size, buyer behaviour, etc. Other things to consider about your target audience are:
- Who you want researched and how many interviews?
- Also specify if you are able to provide contact details (or whether you need the market research company to do this for you.
- If there are any specific groups you want to avoid you should also include this in your brief.
4. Research approach:
Whilst your research agency can advise you on the best methodology, if you have a particular approach in mind then it definitely is worthwhile mentioning this at the outset – so that this can be discussed at the very least. For example, are you looking for qualitative (insights and ideas) or quantitative (numbers) research or, perhaps, a combination! Furthermore, should the research be conducted face-to-face, by telephone or even online? But don’t worry if you’re not sure.
5. Timescales and Outputs:
Research is often considered late in the business planning process – so we are used to turning around research projects very quickly. But also consider internal milestones and deadlines that impact on the research process and decision-making deadlines. Also give some thought to what outputs and deliverables you need such as a presentation/workshop etc.
- Timescale for the procurement process and when you will make a decision to commence the research
- Deadlines such as when you want the findings and when business decisions are being made
- Whether you want to receive top-line findings in advance of the main findings or any other updates during the course of the research
- How you would like the findings in a written report format or as a presentation and whether or not you would like to have a meeting (face to face, Skype or conference call)
Ideally both you and the research agency should be as transparent as possible and that openness & honesty is the best policy. With an understanding of your budget, it is a lot easier to find the right solution that works for you. We often offer a few cost options so that the decision is always yours!
7. Other information:
Please provide any other details you feel is relevant – at the end of the day we are here to help! If it is a formal tender process and there are certain requirements to be met then please specify these in your brief. For example;
- Provide names and contact details for the key contacts for the bid; request the same from them
- Who should we contact if we have any queries regarding the brief?
- If not yourself, who should we send their bid to and how (eg electronically or hard copy)?
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide to writing a market research brief. We hope you have found it useful and look forward to hearing from you at some point.