Writing a Successful Market Research Brief


Posted on 28 May 2020 Catherine Chipeta


A good market research brief helps agencies lead successful projects. Learn what to include and how to write a detailed brief with our template guide.

Market research brief

A research brief is a document outlining all information a market research agency will need to understand your company, brand, and research needs to propose the most suitable course of action for your upcoming study. A clear, informed brief will ensure the market researcher can deliver the most effective research possible. It also streamlines the project by reducing the need for back and forth between your company and the researcher. A good brief will leave no confusion and provide a meaningful framework for you and the researcher, maximising the accuracy and reliability of insights collected.

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In this article, we’ve broken down the key components of a well-written brief, with examples. Using this template guide, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

Business Background / Project Background

This section of the brief introduces your company to the market researcher, giving them a more informed overview of your brand, product/service, and target market. You should provide all available context to ensure you and the researcher are on the same page with the project. Relevant information to add in this section includes: company details, company mission/vision, industry status and trends, market performance history, competitive context, any existing research.

Business Objectives / Marketing Objectives

Your business objectives/marketing objectives should answer why you are being asked to conduct the research. The researcher should be able to grasp the existing problems/issues your company is looking to address in the research. For example, this could involve sales, competition, customer satisfaction, or product innovation, to name a few.

Research Objectives

Research objectives address the specific questions you would like the research to cover, including what insights you wish to gain. This is where you should detail what actions your company is planning to take based on the research you are commissioning. Your research objective is one of the most important elements of your brief, as it dictates how your study will be conducted and the quality of results.

Target Market

Who will this research focus on? This is where you should state respondents’ demographic and profiling information, along with any pre-existing segments you want to target. Be specific, but also be aware that the more restrictive the criteria are, the higher the sample cost will be. Extensive limitations are also realistically harder to meet.

For example:

Option 1:

  • Market: Canada
  • Sample size: 200 – 1000
  • Demographics: Household income of $150k and above a year

Option 2:

  • Markets: Malaysia (priority), Thailand, Singapore
  • Sample size: N=200 (Product Variant Selector) + N=500 (Conjoint)
  • Demographics: 16 – 50 years old
  • National representation: Age, gender and location
  • Target definition: Bought electronics online in the past 12 months
  • Reads on: 16 – 30-year olds vs. 31 – 50-year olds

Option 3:

  • Market: South America
  • Sample size: 1800
  • Target definition: Main and joint grocery buyers
  • 5 target groups: Income, urban/rural, age, family status, shopping frequency (divide each into 3 subgroups, e.g. low, medium, high).

Action Standards / Decision Rules

Action standards outline which criteria will determine the decisions you make following research. These should detail specific numerical scores and any company benchmarks which need to be met in your research results for decision-making to go ahead. Clear and detailed action standards will allow you to make decisions faster and more confidently following research.

For example:

  • Nestlé’s 6040 action standard which prioritises preference and nutrition, by aiming “to make products that achieve at least 60% consumer taste preference with the added ‘plus’ of nutritional advantage”.
  • Pricing is seen as credible by at least 40% of the target market.
  • Product has at least 50% acceptance from the target market.

Methodology

You should only include methodology if you are certain of the approach you want to take. If you do not know which methodology you should use, leave this section blank for agency recommendations.

For example:

  • Monadic test: Monadic testing introduces survey respondents to individual concepts, products in isolation. It is usually used in studies where independent findings for each stimulus are required, unlike in comparison testing, where several stimuli are tested side-by-side. Each product/concept is displayed and evaluated separately, providing more accurate and meaningful results for specific items.
  • Discrete choice modelling: Sometimes referred to as choice-based conjoint, discrete choice is a more robust technique consistent with random utility theory and has been proven to simulate customers’ actual behaviour in the marketplace. The output on relative importance of attributes and value by level is aligned to the output from conjoint analysis (partworth analysis).
  • Qualitative research: Qualitative forms of research focus on non-numerical and unstructured data, such as participant observation, direct observation, unstructured interviews, and case studies.
  • Quantitative research: Numbers and measurable forms of data make up quantitative research, focusing on ‘how many’, ‘how often’, and ‘how much’, e.g. conjoint analysis, MaxDiff, Gabor-Granger, Van Westendorp.

Deliverables

Deliverables should clearly outline project expectations – both from your company and the agency. This should cover who is responsible for everything required to undertake research, including survey inputs and outputs, materials, reporting, reviewing, and any additional requirements.

For example:

  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Crosstabs of data
  • Raw datasets
  • Excel simulator
  • Online dashboard
  • “Typing tool” for future research

Timing and Cost

Timing covers the due dates for key milestones of your research project, most importantly, for your preliminary and final reports. Cost should include your project budget, along with any potential additional costs/constraints.

Contacts and Responsibilities

This section states all stakeholders involved in the project, their role and responsibilities, and their contact details. You should ensure that these are easy to locate on your brief, for quick reference by the agency and easier communication.

Ready-to-use market research brief template with examples

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