Syndicated Research Vs Custom Research: Which is Most Ideal for Businesses?

Syndicated Research Vs Custom Research: Which is Most Ideal for Businesses? 

When tackling market research, businesses have the option of using syndicated research, custom research and a slew of other kinds of research providers. 

When it comes to steering your business forward, market research techniques provide a vast array of insights into your target market and industry at large. While secondary sources can provide critical information, it is even more important to conduct primary research, which grants unique and updated data that informs your business on a variety of matters.

Thus, researchers are often presented with using either survey panels, syndicated research or custom research as the foremost methods of conducting market research.

This article lays out the key aspects of syndicated research and custom research, along with their differences, so that businesses can informatively choose their best-suited market research method. 

Understanding Syndicated Research

Syndicated research refers to the kind of research that is conducted independently, published and sold by a market research firm. This kind of firm is usually industry-specific and is therefore funded by several companies within a particular industry.

Thus, the market research firm and its partner companies own the data that the firm conducts. Other companies within its particular industry may be interested in obtaining the data and can thus patronize the firm. 

The firm publishes the data to those who intend to purchase it — other companies within the space, as aforementioned. The data becomes available in the form of presentations, reports and times, as a raw collection of data. 

Unlike custom research, syndicated research involves the market research firm and its collaborating companies — those that jointly funded a research project — as the sole owners of the data. This means that companies that purchase the data via syndicated research do not own the data.

In this form of research, the market research firm dictates the subject of the study, along with its direction. The patronizing companies can request additional questions to be added to the firm’s interview, or to have the study extended in some way or another, whether it involves adding a more diverse survey sample or more participants.

Thus, despite the firm’s ownership of a market research project, its purchasing customers have the option to customize it and change it to suit their research needs.

The Key Aspects of Syndicated Research

Syndicated research is characterized by several traits that define and distinguish it from custom research. The following lists several major aspects that form the basis and composition of syndicated research.

  1. The market research firm conducts the data and is funded in collaboration with other companies that also own the data.
  2. The scope, direction and methodology of the research is determined almost entirely by the research firm (although purchasing companies can make requests).
  3. It allows companies to gain access to general data on the state of a specific market.
  4. The costs of syndicated research are shared.
  5. The results provided are the same, so there is no exclusivity among any of the parties involved. 
  6. Since purchasing companies do not conduct the research, syndicated research is considered secondary for customers.
    1. However, it is primary research for the firm conducting the research.
  7. It often uses large sample sizes and exits as quantitative research.
  8. It is often conducted within exploratory research, given that is used as an early form of research. 
  9. A syndicated research firm can specialize in research in one industry or cover multiple industries.
  10. It is not funded or created for one specific client.
  11. It allows businesses and researchers to discover information about a market before taking on a full-scale market research campaign.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Syndicated Research

Syndicated research offers its share of benefits to researchers and businesses alike. However, it does not come without several drawbacks. When deciding between syndicated and custom research, businesses ought to review the following.

The Pros

  1. Cost-effective, timely and cheaper than ad-hoc research.
  2. It provides a primer into market research within an industry, given that the information is general and not particular to a niche or company.
  3. It helps companies identify key trends and the main issues surrounding their industry.
  4. It uses large sample sizes, which is fruitful for forming predictions.
  5. It offers competitive intelligence within an industry.
  6. It assists companies with brand awareness and brand tracking should they make this request to broaden their data.
  7. Ideal to use for a research thesis, or need to create an investor pitch from various data providers on short notice.
  8. It can improve the visibility of a company by using syndicated research for amplifying publicity.

The Cons

  1. The market research firm wields almost complete control over the study, its methodology and direction.
  2. The acquitted data is too broad and doesn’t address the specific needs that vary from company to company.
  3. The data can be available for purchase by competitors. 
  4. Investing companies cannot claim full ownership of the research, given that other companies fund it and the research firm is at the helm.
  5. Although it is an ideal starting point in market research, it does not cover the many unique aspects individual businesses will need, especially when brand tracking is concerned.
  6.  The data does not provide granular insights for research beyond exploratory. 

Understanding Custom Research

Custom research is a kind of research that is conducted for and funded by one company — the client, who owns the resulting data. Market research companies run the campaigns and provide the data, made custom for the client.

In custom market research, the company, namely the client that procures the data has control over the campaign, thereby controlling the participants of the survey, the questionnaire, the quotas and virtually all else. In this regard, custom research fulfills its name, as it is customizable according to the client’s needs.

Custom research ensures that the client company dictates the requirements of a research campaign, sets the participant qualifications and meets all of its specific needs. When a company seeks information that closely aligns with its unique business aspects, it is ideal for it to turn to custom research.

Thus, custom research is better suited for handling research beyond the early stages, such as exploratory and explanatory research. It is also more fitting for obtaining a more in-depth analysis of a target market since the client company can format a survey campaign to its liking to fit its precise needs.

Both client companies and individual researchers are not obliged to share their insights with any other entity, nor do they have to publish their insights, although the latter is used for thought leadership, therefore making custom research ideal for content marketing strategy

As for the former, the insights brands derive from custom research are completely unique to them and no other company can claim them as theirs, as the client company owns the data.

The Key Aspects of Custom Research

Custom research features several aspects that differentiate it from syndicated research and shape its experience. The following lays out various major components that form the offerings of custom research.

  1. It is produced specifically for one company, rather than being a joint effort by multiple companies.
  2. Although a market research firm provides the means of conducting the research, the client company owns the extracted data.
  3. Custom research is suitable when a company requires more precise data about something specific to its business.
  4. It is conducted after the early stage of the research process, for example, during descriptive, correlational and experimental research. 
  5. Custom research can provide clients with industry benchmarking, trade dynamics, segmentation analysis, economic impact and more insights.
  6. It allows clients to take control of the direction of the research campaign.
  7. Market research firms either conduct the research themselves or provide a tool for the clients, who then conduct the research themselves.
    1. For example, an online survey platform.
  8. It incorporates a client-centered approach, thus the insights are particular to the client and their customer intelligence needs.
  9. This kind of research allows companies to customize any aspect of the research, from qualified respondents, to the number of respondents, to question-formatting.
  10. The market research firm has no sway over a market research project as it would in a syndicated research project.
  11. The client company is the sole proprietor of the data, but must also fund the research project on its own.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Custom Research

Custom research has various advantageous qualities that complement a market research project.  However, it also has a few downsides. Businesses and market researchers ought to understand both before embarking on a custom research project.

The Pros

  1. It is ideal to use when a company requires in-depth information about a particular target market segment, or an issue unique to the company. 
  2. Businesses do not have to share the resulting data with similar companies, making them more equipped with insights than their competitors.
  3. This allows companies to extract only the information they need, avoiding information overload and having to parse through unneeded information.
  4. It provides hyper-targeted Information so that businesses can improve on a number of fronts.
  5. Researchers ideate individual questions and use all the ones they find necessary for their business’s particular needs.
  6. The data is much cleaner and easier to analyze when it concerns one business’s specific matters.
  7. Businesses gain deeper insights rather than broad generalizations that can be applied to multiple companies, reinforcing the strength of qualitative and quantitative insights. 
    1. It offers an additional layer of insights that syndicated research cannot find.
  8. Market research firms often provide different pricing plans for businesses, so that even those on a budget can implement custom research.
  9. It can be used as an extension of a syndicated research project, or as the missing piece to other secondary research.
  10. Custom research is tailored to a company’s specific needs, thus the insights are more applicable and actionable when a company seeks to make changes.

The Cons

  1. This kind of research is the costlier option as it is funded by only one company with the research tailored specifically to the company; thus it bears the burden of paying a full price, one that is more expensive than it would be in syndicated research and other joint projects.
  2. It takes more time and effort to conduct from a logistical and planning perspective.
  3. It must be performed by a market research company, if not, it carries too many risks, such as survey biases and incomplete information.
  4. Researchers are left to fend for themselves when it comes to ideating the project and its needs.

Which Research Method is Most Ideal for Your Company?

When choosing between syndicated research and custom research, a business must consider all of its market research needs: from the highest priority to the lowest. It must also consider the campaign for which it needs the research. 

Critical inquiries to consider include: does your budget better fit with the syndicated research model or can you afford custom research? Are there already available insights on the subject you seek to study? If so, how much primary research does your study require?

When a business is at a critical point in its journey, one that requires immediate and actionable insights, custom research is the objectively better choice. 

This is because unlike syndicated research, which provides general answers and those that pertain to various companies, custom research provides granular information as specific to a particular company as possible.

Thus, there are little to no questions or hesitations that follow custom research, as the researchers can design the questions and other key aspects of the research campaign to their exact liking. On the other hand, although syndicated research provides valuable data, it is not only too broad, but it can be lacking when it comes to the intelligence needs of a business.

Thus, businesses ought to choose a custom market research provider wisely. A strong online survey platform performs custom research with the prowess of artificial intelligence and a global presence of support.