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Why is Insights Work So Expensive?

“Why is this so expensive? I just wanted to do a quick survey!”

Every once in a while when we are working with a client to plan a study, things will be moving along smoothly until we get to the price estimate. These clients typically do not do much insights work, and some have never done any, so they do not have a good point of reference for what good insights work should cost.

What are the major factors that affect the cost of an insights project? Here are three things to keep in mind when thinking about investing in insights:

1) The value of expertise

Suppose that something is wrong with your car's engine and it needed to be replaced. You could remove the engine yourself if you have enough space and time, and are willing to make a relatively small investment in the right tools...but what would you be risking? What might you overlook or not even know to look for? How much time and energy would you have to spend? What would you do if something went wrong?

Working with insights professionals is like paying professionally trained mechanics to remove your car's engine. We have the know-how to properly design and execute studies; our experience enables us to anticipate where issues may arise and prepares us to respond to them; our earned expertise means we know how to present findings in a way that makes them actionable. Advantage Research has been "removing engines" for clients since 1992!

2) Finding participants…specifically, the right participants

As we discussed in some detail in a previous blog post, how common or rare the target audience is can have a major impact on the cost of an insights project. For example, finding any homeowner to participate in a study is a lot easier than finding left-handed homeowners in their 40's who live in Milwaukee and only buy a certain brand of toothpaste! Finding enough of that second audience would take significantly more time and effort, which translates directly to the project's bottom line.

Another aspect of making sure that we are reaching the right audience is real-time monitoring to watch for bots and bad actors. Many insights projects offer some kind of incentive to anyone who participates, which attracts people who want to collect payment even if they are not part of the target audience. Over time these efforts to defraud insights studies have grown more sophisticated, and have recently taken another step forward thanks to the use of AI. Advantage Research continues to evolve our approaches to catching and disqualifying bots and bad actors from all of our studies.

3) Insights as an insurance policy

One of the main values of insights work to any organization is its ability to answer important questions with objective information to guide decisions that the organization needs to make. Moving forward with the additional confidence provided by insights findings can be crucial to the success of a project!

While the main takeaways from many studies take the form of recommending how to proceed, they can be equally valuable as a warning about how not to proceed. What value should be placed on investing a relatively small amount up front to avoid costly mistakes when it's too late to fix them?

For example, testing potential packaging designs might reveal that target customers feel one of the package concepts is off-putting and they would be less likely to purchase that product. The investment in that study pays for itself quickly when sales increase as a result of the packaging change!


Here at Advantage, we know that budgets have limits and we try to squeeze as much as we can out of every dollar. We are always willing to have a no-charge conversation to provide guidance on pricing, timing, and other considerations to help organizations plan their research investment wisely!


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