4 June 2019 4397 words, 18 min. read

Market Research: how much does it cost?

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Here is a question we are always asked: “How much does market research cost?“. And our answer is always the same: “The cost of any market research is the same as the price of a car. It can be a […]

Here is a question we are always asked: “How much does market research cost?“. And our answer is always the same: “The cost of any market research is the same as the price of a car. It can be a small city car or a Rolls-Royce, a second-hand car or a new one. It is up to you to decide”. That answer is not very satisfactory, is it? It is obvious that this is a tailor-made exercise and that the customer’s requirements and the complexity of the questions asked will determine the difficulty (and price) of the market research. For complete information on conducting market research, consider consulting our now popular online guide to conducting market research (which is free, so you should make the most of it!).

cost of a market research

Our article on the price of market research is divided as follows. First, we will give some information on the rates charged by the major market research institutes, then we will talk about methodology (which determines the price of the study) and finish by what you all expect: an exhaustive list of market research methods and their respective prices. For the most impatient among you, a summary is also available with hyperlinks that will take you directly to the desired paragraph.

The cost of market research

A recent article in the French magazine “Capital” reveals some good conclusions regarding the price of market research. This article was devoted to IPSOS and Sofres, two market research institutes that have earned their reputation in opinion polls. In terms of quantitative research, Capital’s article reveals, one (1) question asked to 1000 consumers will cost you 700€. When you know that you generally need to ask 3 converging questions to get a reliable answer, you can do the arithmetic. In terms of qualitative research, this time continues the article in the French magazine, two (2) focus groups with 10 people each will cost you €20,000, which makes €1,000 per consumer interviewed. Remember that a focus group lasts on average 120 minutes, which, divided by the number of participants, gives an average speaking time of 12 minutes. At €1,000 per consumer surveyed, the focus group, therefore, costs €83 per minute. You are now beginning to understand why market research is mainly carried out by large companies. This is unfortunate, given the results of market research. But then again… this is another debate.

The method used to conduct market research determines the price

The price doesn’t mean anything and 83€ per minute can be as excessive a price as it can be cheap. It all depends on what is done with the information and how it is processed. It also depends on how qualitative interviews are used by the agency and in this area, we have a small anecdote to tell you. Some time ago we were in conversation with the director of a public company to present our work to him. During the presentation, we noticed some surprise in his eyes as we approached the part about the market research methodology. We explained that each interview we conduct is followed by a verbatim transcript and coding. Our interlocutor, used to working with major market research firms, admitted to us that he had not met a firm in a long time that carried out all these essential steps.

What is coding and why is it important?

According to our interlocutor, coding, because it is tedious and consumes resources and therefore money, is no longer carried out rigorously. Market research agencies prefer to record a few keywords on the fly when reviewing the interview at the risk of not capturing its full potential. This way of doing things is, unfortunately, a hazardous and methodologically questionable shortcut; but it is a way of doing low-cost, fast, and ultimately reducing the cost of market research.

The cost of market research with IntoTheMinds

The structure of our company (we are an SME) allows us to offer competitive rates (which can be divided by 2 if you are granted subsidies). Prices for a would-be entrepreneur starts at €5,000 excluding VAT and for qualitative market research (based on interviews) at €8,000. These prices are, of course, indicative but will already give you an idea of the budget to foresee. If you would like a personalised quote, please do not hesitate to send us a message. Subsequently, we have made an effort to provide you with a clear picture of the prices you can expect. But before going into these details, you will find below a table summarising the budgets for each of the market research methods used. We would also like to remind you that each of these methods is part of a gradual market research process that we have explained in our guide and which is governed by 7 phases (represented schematically below).

 Schematic representation of our market research methodology


Market research method Minimum budget Average budget
Desk research 4000€ 6000€
PESTEL study 5000€ 10000€
Recruitment of B2C respondents 50€ 100€
Recruitment of B2B respondents 250€ 400€
Qualitative face-to-face interviews 500€ per interview 800€ per interview with transcription and coding
Focus Group 4000€ 5000€
Analysis of the competition 12000€ 15000€
Packaging study 6000€ 10000€
Online survey 3000€ 8000€
Product tests with consumers 6000€ 10000€
A study of market share 10000€
Statistical modelling of customer behaviour 20000€
Flow study for the establishment of a local business 2500€ 5000€

Overview table of the budgets concerning the different market research methods. Subsidies (covering up to 60% of the above amounts) are available if you are an SME. Contact us for more information.

How much does desk research cost?

Desk research is the use of documents written by others to develop an approach to market research: reports, studies, statistics, etc. The aim is to get an idea of market dynamics without leaving your office. In this case, care must be taken to conduct the most exhaustive research possible to maintain objectivity and avoid selection bias. There are many sources on which you can rely on for desk research. Here are some examples.

The Scientific Community

Articles published in scientific journals, reports of other official agencies. INSEE in France and Statbel in Belgium produce regular reports on various subjects, but they are not the only ones. In France, for example, a very high-quality periodic study of the food sector is carried out by ANSES.

Sectoral community

These are the companies in the sector in which you are active. These companies are members of various organisations that produce reports that you can study. Remember also to address the different levels of responsibility. Sectoral communities are organised geographically, and it is therefore worth checking the information you can obtain for your market research at regional, national and trans-national level. At the trans-national level, professional agencies (most of which are located in Brussels for the European Union’s interests) can also be multiple.

Third parties

For example, market research institutes such as IntoTheMinds produce sector analyses and trend guides. Often these reports are not free, but sometimes it is possible to glean relevant information here and there and, in this way, to form a precise picture of the evolution of a sector.

How much does desk research cost? A detailed documentary study requires 5 to 10 man/days of work, which represents an average budget of €6,000. Our specialised consultants will be happy to help you with your market research. Contact us for a no-obligation preliminary appointment.

How much does a PESTEL study cost?

The PESTEL study (Politics – Economics – Sociology – Technology – Ecology – Legal) consists in studying the exogenous factors (those that you cannot influence), and that can nevertheless have repercussions on your project. We have detailed this part of the market research study in our online guide.

The PESTEL study, therefore, requires a systematic analysis of the factors and above all a detailed knowledge of the environment in which the project will be “immersed”. Usually, one to two days are required to cover each of PESTEL’s letters and to produce a consistent report.

We can, therefore, estimate that the minimum budget corresponds to 6 days/man and that the maximum budget is 12 days/man. These estimates are of course only valid for a given geographic market. If you would like to launch a product or service in two different countries, it will be necessary to repeat these analyses because each country is likely to have its own dynamics and different rules (although European directives and regulations have done a lot to harmonise policies between the countries).

The budget for a PESTEL study on a country: from €5,000 (minimum budget) to €10,000 (maximum budget).

What budget should be allocated for the recruitment of respondents for qualitative surveys?

Sometimes you will just need to have a third-party recruit respondents for you. This may be the case when you are moving to a new geographical area and have a marketing research department that wants to go there to conduct the market research itself. In this case, it may be interesting to entrust an institute with the task of recruiting the people to be interviewed for you and scheduling appointments in such a way as to save your time.

While this task can be simple in a B2C context (see our guide on conducting market research in B2C), it is difficult with B2B (see our tips on conducting market research in B2B). In B2B, in fact, the interlocutors are not very available (they work!), and setting up appointments is a real challenge (ask salespeople what they think about it). Let’s not even talk about grouping B2B interviews or focus groups in B2B. It’s almost impossible.

The budget for such a service will, therefore, vary greatly depending on the targets to be achieved.

The budget for the recruitment of respondents: in B2C the budget to be planned is 50 to 100€ per respondent. In B2B, recruitment services start at 250€ / respondent.

If you need to recruit respondents, contact us, and we will be more than pleased to help you. We will reply within 60 minutes if you contact us during office hours.

What is the cost of a face-to-face interview?

Face-to-face interviews are THE preferred market research method when you don’t know where to start. Overview table (To get your bearings, remember to look at this to choose the right approach). We are not going to go into the interest of this method here (see for example our comparison of focus groups / individual interviews or the part of our online guide to market research devoted to qualitative interviews). Let us merely point out that a well-prepared, well-conducted and, above all, well analysed face-to-face interview is a time-consuming process. Between the literature review, the preparation of the interview guide, the conduct of the interviews (and the time required to travel when the interview is not conducted on your premises), the transcription, coding and analysis, it is not unusual to spend 2 days/man per interview. Of course, there are methodological shortcuts (elimination of transcription and coding), but it seems very complicated to us to spend less than 6 hours per interview to get the essentials from it.

It should also be noted that an ideal sample for qualitative interviews consists of at least 15 people. It is not uncommon for 30 interviews to be conducted for complex issues. The budget, therefore, increases accordingly.

What budget should be allocated for a series of face-to-face interviews? The anticipated budget starts at €8,000 for a sample of 15 people.

We are specialists in qualitative research and are an approved market research institute for obtaining subsidies (covering up to 50% of our fees). Contact us with any questions. We will reply within 60 minutes.

What is the cost of a Focus Group?

Focus groups are a typical market research method, but they are still very “oversold”. Wrongly presented as a panacea and a market research method that meets all needs, focus groups are initially a so-called triangulation method, i.e. a technique designed to confirm or invalidate results obtained by other methods. It will, therefore, be necessary to ensure that focus groups are used for what they really are (see our comparison of focus groups / qualitative face-to-face interviews to find out everything).

The focus group generally takes place for 2 to 3 hours during which 6 to 10 people are invited to discuss a given topic with a moderator who leads the discussions. The recruitment phase can be particularly difficult (see above “recruitment of respondents”).

How much does a focus group cost? The price of a focus group with 8 people starts at 4 000€. Economies of scale can be achieved when several focus groups are organised one after the other. We organise focus groups throughout Europe. Contact us for any request. We will reply within 60 minutes.

How much does it cost to conduct an analysis of the competition?

This is another essential step in market research. While competition research is of course almost mandatory before the launch of a new product or service, it remains a market research method that can (and must) be reapplied regularly. There is nothing more dynamic and changing than competitors, and it is, therefore, essential to observe their movements, strategies, positioning and prices.

credits: Shutterstock

The analysis of the competition can take different forms, which will, therefore, be reflected in the budget to be provided. We, therefore, propose to give details of two extremes.

A simple analysis of the competition without a field investigation

The competition analysis without a field investigation uses desk research techniques (see above). For a competition analysis in retail, the typical deliverable will be a map locating competitors and delimiting shopping areas. Also, it will be possible to provide a comparison (“benchmark”) of several variables that will be provided, for example, through a study of the published documents available about the competitors (reports, websites, various brochures, etc.). For a competition analysis without a field investigation, the average workload is 6 days with IntoTheMinds.

An analysis of the competition with field investigation

In more complex cases, or when the competition analysis is intended to be more comprehensive, a field investigation will also be conducted. The field investigation may use mystery shopping techniques (visiting the competitor under a false identity), but it would be simplistic to think that this is the only way to proceed. It is also possible to interview customers of your competitors, suppliers, and even use quantitative methods. For example, you could conduct an online survey of your competitors’ customers to assess their satisfaction, loyalty and identify weaknesses that you could benefit from. There are even tools based on Facebook profiles of your competitors’ fans that will allow you to deduce a large amount of information.

To put it simply, a competition analysis with a field investigation will require an average of 15 days/man. The addition of additional market research techniques (Facebook profiling, online survey) can quickly increase the workload to 25 man/days. What is the budget for an analysis of the competition? The budget for an analysis of the competition starts at €12,000.

How much does it cost to do a Packaging Study?

As soon as your market research concerns a physical product sold in B2C, it is essential to pay particular attention to the packaging study. Before even being able to decide on the intrinsic qualities of the product, it is the packaging that will convince the consumer to test your product. This is why our market research institute is often responsible for conducting consumer research on the perception of different packaging.

The budget for this type of study will once again depend on the techniques used, as well as the size of the sample.

We give you below some methodological elements to determine the budget for a packaging study.

The size of the sample

The first variable to be taken into account is the size of the sample. If your packaging is finalised and you want to have the market’s opinion to choose the best one, a sample of 500 people interviewed online could do the trick. This type of online survey is easy to implement, the results are easy to interpret. The budget to be anticipated is in the order of €5,000 to €6,000.

Market intelligence

Sometimes you just haven’t finalised your packaging. It can, therefore, be useful to look for ideas elsewhere, see what your competitors are doing and then design packaging that allows you to stand out from the crowd. This marketing monitoring phase (we will look for good ideas all over the world) generally represents a budget of around €6,000 to €8,000. Some of our customers also ask us to design prototypes based on our marketing intelligence. This phase is carried out with a graphic designer and represents a budget of around €2,000 to have 3 to 5 concrete packaging proposals.

Online or offline?

If the different versions of the packaging are finalised and all that remains is to choose the one that you like best, nothing could be more straightforward: an online survey with a panel rented for the occasion will suffice. If, on the other hand, you are still in the design phase and want to collect finer, more qualitative insights, individual interviews are ideal. The aim is to present the first prototypes in short interviews (typically 20 minutes) to gather more detailed information. This type of technique is particularly suitable when your packaging differs not only in the patterns but also in the functionalities it offers. It is therefore essential to have the packaging in hand, which is, of course, impossible with an online survey. For a series of 50 20-minute interviews, the budget is €6,000.

How much does a packaging study cost? The budget to be allocated for a packaging study is €6,000 and can amount to €20,000 including graphics, monitoring and online quantitative research. If you are an SME, there are subsidies to cover half of this budget. We take care of all the formalities. Contact us for more information.

What is the cost of an Online Survey?

The budget for an online survey will depend mainly on two factors:

  • the size of the sample
  • the need to rent a panel

If you already have a list of email addresses (GDPR compliant of course! Have you considered documenting the consent of the people you have in the database?), the costs will be limited to the design of the questionnaire, its preliminary test, any translation costs and the analysis of the results. Therefore, you should consider a budget of €3,000 to €4,000.

If, on the other hand, it is necessary to rent a panel, things will be very different. Indeed, the costs of renting a panel are not insignificant and can vary greatly depending on the desired profile of the respondents and the geographical area. For some rare profiles in distant territories, it is not uncommon to approach 8-9€ per respondent. A panel of 500 respondents (which is not huge) therefore approaches €5,000.

How much does an online survey cost?  The budget to be anticipated starts at €3,000 if you have a qualified database that complies with the GDPR; if a panel is to be rented, the minimum budget to be expected is €6,000. We can help you and provide you with 50% subsidies for your online survey. We will reply to you within the day. Please contact us.

What is the cost of a product test with consumers?

Here is another popular and in high demand market research method. Consumer tests are particularly popular in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector, i.e. consumer products. In the food sector, in particular, producers are keen on consumer tests before launching a new product on the market. In fact, given the survival rate of novelties in the food sector, it is suggested that more brands should use this type of study.

In any case, consumer tests are carried out individually, in neutral environments (to avoid bias due to, for example, the colour of the sample), and on significant samples. We conducted tests on samples of 120 people in the bottled water sector to obtain a sample of sufficient size to draw statistically robust conclusions.

The workload is of the same order as for an offline packaging study. Count €6,000 for 50 individual tests and €12,000 for 120 tests (economies of scale apply when the number of interviews increases).

credits: Shutterstock

Budget to be allocated for a product test: between €6,000 and €12,000 depending on the number of consumers involved. We carry out product tests in many countries. Contact us for help.

How much does a Market Share study cost?

Calculating your market share (or that of your competitors in a prospective market research study) is a complicated exercise with many approximations.

For brands present in supermarkets, the classic method of studying market shares consists of asking a third party to analyse the receipts and deduce the relative share of each brand according to the product category. This approach is often the monopoly of a single market research institute per country, and this third party is now competing with Big Data environments that accumulate data from mass distribution, and offer real-time results without the need for a third party to analyse them.

For all other sectors of activity, unfortunately, the calculation of market shares is an even more complicated and approximate process. First of all, it will be necessary to determine the geographical area in which the calculation must be carried out (there is no need to calculate your market share in a territory that exceeds your catchment area), and within this area to estimate, for example, the turnover of your competitors. This last step is often complicated because the turnover of competing structures is often not published and, also, the income statement may be difficult to understand in the case of multiple activities. In this case, it is possible to proceed by approximation by taking statements (if possible, as B2B does not lend itself to this approach) of the number of customers and the average shopping basket over a sufficiently long period.

Whatever the method, the minimum budget for a small territory will never be less than €10,000 and a competition study based on a field study in several countries can easily exceed €50,000. We operate in all European countries. We are at your disposal for any information.

How much does the Statistical Modelling of customer behaviour cost?

In the age of Big Data, many companies are wondering what to do with their data. Whether the latter comes from a CRM, an ERP or navigation data on your e-commerce site, all data is good to use to predict your customers’ behaviour and understand how to increase their satisfaction and loyalty.

The problem with this kind of exercise is that the material is complicated. It is first necessary to recover the data and most of the time qualify them before “cleaning” them (data cleaning). Before even starting the statistical modelling work, many days will be needed to prepare the data. Then comes the complicated part: finding a statistical model that correctly predicts behaviour. Sometimes this will just not be possible because data will be missing or the most essential variables will not have been collected.

This type of project also requires a highly qualified workforce (statisticians, data scientists) whose services are expensive because they are in high demand.

We carry out such missions at IntoTheMinds. Their price starts at around €20,000 when the scope is well defined, and the data is of high quality. A classic application example is the prediction of churn based on consumer behaviour and segmentation.

The budget for statistical modelling of consumer behaviour: from €20,000. Ask us for advice to start your Big Data project today.

How much does a flow study cost to set up a local business?

In local commerce, location is undoubtedly the most crucial factor to take into account. Unfortunately, too many shopkeepers still think that shoppers will move to them, no matter how far away they are. This is a poor understanding of consumer behaviour.

Catchment areas are generally small, and the critical success factor in retail is to locate your point of sale where the flow of potential customers is most significant.

There is only one method: quantifying the flow of people on a particular street.

3 variants exist that we detail below.

Extrapolation based on minimal measurement points

Passenger flows are measured by performing 1 measurement point of 5 minutes per hour, and the streets of the area are mapped to understand the dynamics of the flows.

Comprehensive one-week measurement

As traffic flows are likely to vary significantly from one time of day to another and from one day to the next, the most reliable method is to measure traffic flows continuously. To do this, we choose a “normal” week (excluding holidays, normal weather), and we measure continuously from Monday to Saturday. The times of the readings may be adapted according to the nature of the business. For a food store (HoReCa) open for lunch and dinner, it is, therefore, unnecessary to take readings before 12pm.

Video analysis of flows

It is also possible to make a continuous video recording to categorise passers-by and obtain excellent qualitative data. This will allow us to determine the adequacy between the people passing through the street where the business will be located and the positioning of the latter. With an establishment serving people aged under 25 years old, it would be better if this type of customer were naturally present in the flows. Only a qualitative analysis will reveal this.

The budget for a flow study in retail sector:

  • 2,500€ for occasional statements
  • about €5,000 for a continuous statement over 6 days.
  • from €6,000 for qualitative analysis based on continuous video surveys

Ensure the success of your local business! Contact us to check that the location you have found is the right one.


The price of a market research study depends of course on the institute, its size, its reputation, but above all on the methodologies used. If you are requesting a quote for a market research study, make sure you are familiar with the methods that will be used beforehand. If the market research includes a qualitative part, make sure that transcription and coding are done. As a passing question, ask what computer tools will be used to perform this coding and to analyse it. This is the only way to guarantee the seriousness of the study and the benefits you can expect from it.


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