The Need for Speed


Are insights “on demand” really within reach? Yes, indeed. Should you reach for them? It depends.


In marketing research, the common wisdom that has prevailed for decades is that for any initiative, there are inevitable trade-offs among cost, speed and quality. But rapidly evolving technology now offers us a dizzying array of well-priced options for blazingly fast data collection, both qualitative and quantitative. The promise of being able to conduct research that is “cheap,” “fast” and “good” without compromise is finally a reality!


When considering investment in consumer research, it’s important to be clear about your learning objectives and the level of risk associated with the business decision at hand. There are certainly many situations where “fast” and “cheap” will be “good” (or good enough). The key difference with quick-turn data collection is the way in which respondents are recruited, and in the amount of information you can collect in any given research initiative.


  • In “traditional” research, respondents are recruited from a panel and reflect a balanced sample of consumers. Respondents are monetarily compensated for their time, and because of this, can be counted on to work through complex surveys. Survey invitations are sent over a period of days to known respondents.
  • Quick-turn data collection recruits respondents by unlocking certain types of internet content such as games or articles in exchange for answering survey questions. It’s much less expensive to reach study participants this way and the time in field is usually much shorter than traditional research (thinks hours instead of days). Surveys delivered in this context must be short and simple—if not, potential respondents will move on—and only basic screening criteria can be required.


Quick-turn research is not all bad—or bad at all—but it is important to think through your objectives when choosing your research platform and method. Quick-turn research is very well suited to single objective research (e.g., which flavors should be included in the product line?) or incorporated as a component of agile research supporting new product development. In the early stages of new product development, teams need “bite size” feedback to provide guidance—and frequently need multiple check-ins along the way to optimizing the product concept. Quick-turn research can be a great low-cost option to obtain consumer input.


Depending on your learning objectives, here are some other things to keep in mind:


  • Is your business question strategic or tactical?
    • If it’s tactical, quick turn might be a good choice for guidance
  • What is the level of risk associated with the decision you’re going to make?
    • If the risk level is low, quick turn might be a good choice to get direction
  • Is understanding the “why” behind the “what” important to the decision at hand?
    • If you just need decision support, quick turn could be a good option
  • Will you want to conduct sophisticated statistical analyses with the data?
    • If not, quick turn could be the right choice


At Fountainhead, we’re not only well-versed in research, we’re well-versed in the myriad tools that are available and can help you sort through the options to identify the right solution to fit your needs. Because we know that the value of the investment in research lies in the insights, not in the numbers.