The Basics Of Market Research And How To Commission It

Markets are fundamental to any business. Without an understanding of your market, there can be no business! However, many organisations, particularly those who have become stuck in a rut, can overlook this core function once their products and income streams are established.

If you want your business to continue to survive and thrive, understanding the market for your product or service is key and in order to do that in the most effective and efficient way it’s best to commission this research from a reputable agency. But what do these agencies need to know so that you can get the most from their services? Follow our handy guide and soon you’ll have a perfect specification that will be designed to get you the results you need.

Write your brief

The start of any commissioning process is the brief. This can be a challenge in itself, particularly if this is the first time you’ve commissioned a research project.

There are some key things that you’ll need to include in your brief to ensure the agency you’re commissioning understands what’s expected of them. Your brief will have to cover:

  • An overview of your company.
  • A picture of the market you’re operating in – who your competitors are, what regulation your industry is subject to, who your target market will be.
  • How you intend to use the results of the research, for example whether it’s to enter new markets or expand within your existing market.
  • How you would like the findings presented – do you want one report or a series of presentations within your organisation?
  • When you need the research to be completed.
  • Your budget for the research.

With this information, the agency that you commission will be able to build a clear proposal for what they’re able to do for you within the budget you specify.

Choosing your agency

Once you have a clear brief, you can circulate this to a number of agencies. It’s worth doing a little investigation into the agencies that might be suitable for you. Some agencies specialise in particular markets or working with specific groups such as carrying out research with young people. Many agencies will only offer domestic research while others conduct research across geographical boundaries.


One good way to identify potential agencies is to use the ESOMAR directory. Searchable on their website at, the directory allows you to enter search criteria and choose a firm that meets your needs.

Reaching an agreement

Once you have identified a suitable agency to take on your research, you will need to draft an agreement between your company and the agency to conduct the research. It is helpful if the contract you agree is based on your brief and is clear on exactly what is to be delivered and for what price.


The contract drawn up between your organisation and the agency must comply with the requirements of the International Code on Marketing and Social Research to ensure that all parties are protected. This code is also available on the ESOMAR website and gives guidance on compiling an appropriate contract.

Delivering the goods

Once you’ve secured an agency to carry out your research and agreed a contract for the provision of the information, it’s over to the market researchers to provide you with the product you require. The ways in which the agency goes about getting the data should be specified within the contract along with the timeframe and the cost of delivery.  Then you can sit back and wait for your results to be delivered.


Commissioning a market research agency, like any other form of contracting for a service, has guidelines and standards that, if followed, will deliver the results you need. For more information on the technical detail on drawing up your brief and contracting with a market research agency, read the extensive guidance made available by ESOMAR.

Image Credits: Gurney5 and MyTudut.

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