This is the fourth article in a five-part series entitled Market Research – Intelligence to Drive Your Business, contributed by Susanne Bowen of S J Bowen & Associates. Susanne is one of our valued partners at DSE.
The preparation of the report begins at the proposal stage with the identification of research objectives and goals and the methodology (qualitative, quantitative or blend) to be employed. As such, when preparing the analysis plan it is critical that the metric outcomes be chosen based on their relevance and significance in addressing objectives and driving decision-making.
The report outline (or storyboard) presented below is widely used among market research suppliers and market research organizations. While the following discussion is written from a supplier perspective, it is with the understanding that the client is consulted at critical junctures for feedback and approval.
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Know your audience:
- What decision(s) will be made based on the results? Are these strategic or tactical?
- Ask yourself, is the information contained in the report being presented in a relevant and actionable manner to the audience?
- If exploring a new market or industry, be sensitive that some terminology may be new to audience member.
- Is the information and data presented in a relevant manner? Is it actionable?
- Does your audience have a preference in the manner in which results are presented?
- Can the Executive Summary be used by senior management to present to the Executive team?
Review your goals, objectives, hypothesis:
- If a hypothesis was being tested, was it confirmed and how? If not, detail reasons why and the impact on decision-making.
- Are you effectively addressing goals and objectives as you build your story and report findings?
CREATING THE REPORT OUTLINE / STORYBOARD
Depending on resource availability, the development of the outline may begin during the data collection phase or after analysis of the data has taken place.
A research report is structured as shown below:
Table of Contents: Guide to reader
Project Objectives: Specifies why research was conducted
Methodology: What was utilized to gather the information and why
Executive Summary: Brief summarization of the initiative
Key Findings: Includes only significant info and data points relevant to developing the narrative and decision-making
Conclusions & Recommendations: Concise statements of fact and actionable recommendations for moving forward
Appendix: All other data and information that may be interesting to refer to but which is not mandatory in the decision-making process
A good market research report must:
- Build a cohesive narrative or story that addresses goals and objectives
- Be concise and only include the data that provides insight
- Include conclusions that summarizes specific issues that relate to goals and objectives: and
- Include recommendations that specifies next steps based on each conclusion