20 Mar 12 Value-for-money comparison of research techniques
When you need research to answer a particular problem, how do you decide whether you will use secondary or primary research? Or, what the mix of the two will be? Do you decide on the basis of the budget you have available? Do you decide based on what your team is good at? Do you decide on the basis of the time available to you?
To ensure you get value for money (VFM) on your research, you want high quality research, with a fast turnaround time (because time is money) and at the lowest cost. In general, secondary research is perceived to be fast, cheap and easy to do (in terms of skill sets required). Primary research on the other hand is perceived to be time consuming, expensive and difficult to do. However, primary research can give you more depth and insights into your problem, than secondary research. So, from a time and cost perspective you may prefer secondary research, but for high quality you need primary research.
These are of course, generalizations… The right mix of secondary and primary research for meeting your objectives depends on several factors such as
- What are the kind of intelligence inputs you are looking for? Data or insights?
- What is your current level knowledge on the topic?
- How much information is available from published sources?
- How critical is your need for intelligence?
The choices you will make are not always obvious. For example, if you know close-to-nothing about the topic you are researching, you may decide that some basic secondary research will help you come up to speed. But if the topic is say, a new or nascent market, you may find nothing at all from published sources. It may be faster to talk to a couple of people who are operating in the market.
Finally, once you decide the right choice of secondary and primary research, you must be able to do it efficiently, in order to get better VFM.
ValueNotes hosted a webinar on this very topic- “VFM comparison between primary and secondary research” on 13th March 2012. The webinar explores the parameters for selecting research techniques in order to maximize the ROI on competitive intelligence using examples and case studies from real life situations. You can view a recording of the webinar here.
Do you have examples of your own? Are there other parameters you use for choosing the right mix of secondary and primary research? Do share your experiences with us…