Cheap Collection Not Always A Bargain

How important is low cost in selecting a data collection supplier? You might expect it to be a relatively important selection factor, but a recent survey of marketing research industry professionals who purchase data collection services found that lowest price was not even one of the top ten factors they considered.�

Pioneer Marketing Research, DialTek, LP, and BayaSoft sponsored the 2004 Research Industry Trends Study among organizations involved with the data collection side of the marketing research industry. In findings similar to last year's survey, they found that researchers who manage the data collection process look mostly for high quality work, keeping on schedule, having knowledgeable staff, rapid response to requests and a good reputation in the industry. Rounding out the top ten were flexibility, familiarity with their needs, breadth of experience and length of time in the business, as well as use of sophisticated technologies.

So, if researchers have to pass along data collection costs to their clients or take those dollars directly from their budgets, why do they rank lowest price only 13th among the 14 selection factors? Simple: they realize the knowledge and intelligence that comes out of a particular research project is completely contingent upon the quality of the data.�

Poor quality data is completely unusable, leading to incorrect and uninformed strategic business decisions. And high-quality data collection often costs more to provide. With telephone surveys, for example, the cost-per-complete must include not only interviewer time but also quality driven costs such as training, monitoring, error checking and supervising.�

All things being equal, lower price is a great way to make a selection, especially when it is hard to compare companies on such top ten factors as whether they stay on schedule or provide rapid response to requests. Do your homework, ask lots of questions, check references and, remember, with the lowest cost, sometimes you get what you pay for.

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