The advantages of an annual research plan.
Consumer research is often thought of in the context of a specific project, such as concept testing for a new product or usability testing for a website redesign. But there are risks to this approach. It leads to underfunded research, because the cost of research isn’t adequately covered within the project budget. And it leads to a lack of foundational research, because the cost of a consumer deep dive, such as a segmentation study, can seem cost prohibitive when attributed to an individual project.
Creating an overarching plan that defines your research projects for the upcoming year helps overcome these issues and provides these additional advantages:
- Identifies overlapping research needs – by planning in advance, you may discover one research study can cover the needs of three projects.
- Increases awareness of what research is being conducted and when – facilitates broader involvement in and learning from research.
- Identifies research gaps – the research plan provides visibility to what’s NOT covered in the plan – so you can proactively discuss and plan for those gaps.
- Guides budget creation – by creating a plan focused on research, you ensure that costs are adequately covered.
- Guides project timing – once you’ve identified all your research projects for the year, you can plot out the timing – instead of having a bottleneck in Q2 due to simultaneous research projects.
When developing your research plan, start by defining the business objectives for the upcoming year. For each objective, think about what questions you need answered to achieve that goal. From there, you can think about which methodology would be most effective, the target and the estimated cost.
To complete the plan, determine the research projects that will be conducted next year and list them in priority order with the following details:
- Research objective
- Estimated cost
- Proposed timing (include RFP timing if needed)