Research is an investment, and you want to maximize your chances of a good return. This is why research scoping is so important. Before you jump into marketing research, take the time to ask your stakeholders a few important questions.

As outlined in a previous post, the scoping process has 4 main stages. “Determine the Research Need” phase is the third stage. It’s where we ask whether consumer research will help address the business issue. To ensure this is the case, there are 3 key questions we can ask. 

How do you see research informing a better decision?

We want to ensure research will move the leadership or project team closer to an answer. This question helps clarify how research, whether qualitative or quantitative, adds value to the decision process. Research can bring value in many ways: a reality check based on consumer feedback, a chance to strengthen ideas, an insight into the consumer decision journey, etc. It is an investment in bringing stronger ideas to market or avoiding costly mistakes. If a case cannot be made for how research will lead to smarter decisions, consider whether it’s the right investment. 

What is the upside of making an even better decision?

This is essentially a cost-benefit analysis. If research sharpens the decision-making process, what is that worth to the team? This question reframes research investments from costs to potential revenue and profit builders. It’s the projected ROI.

To what degree does consumer feedback impact the final decision(s)?  

Knowing this is vital to understanding the need for consumer research. Be sure that consumer feedback will weigh into the final decision criteria. There are times when the final decision is dependent on other factors like regulatory, operations, or finance.

It’s hard work to ask great questions that will identify how research might help make smarter decisions. Sometimes, research isn’t the right investment, or existing research can help inform decisions to be made. A knowledge audit can be a good start.

Often, research is the right investment and, when well-scoped, it’s clear what type of research is necessary and exactly how it will help the team make better decisions. 


Ready to learn more? See how we used our Research Decision Wheel to help Sport Chek identify insight needs and come up with a winning strategy. Or, learn how we helped Molson Coors better understand consumer segments and develop a winning portfolio strategy with sustainable growth .