Ad-hoc market research vs. syndicated surveys

Ignasi Fernández 5m of reading

Deciding whether to conduct ad-hoc market research or to contract a syndicated study is one of the first issues market researchers face when addressing a research need. These two types of market research have their advantages and disadvantages, and here we explain them all so that you can also choose the option that best suits you.

What is ad-hoc market research?

Ad-hoc market research is a type of research designed to address a specific need of an organisation at a particular moment. Each ad-hoc survey is a unique and independent project, tailored to the objectives to be covered. To achieve this, the target audience, the sample, and the most appropriate data collection technique is chosen. Based on the survey’s conclusions, other studies can be conducted to complement the initial one can, but they will already be different studies, other ad-hoc surveys.

Advantages of ad-hoc market research

  • Optimal design: Since it is created to solve a specific need, all the characteristics of the ad-hoc market study are adapted to the research objectives.
  • Greater flexibility: The organization contracting the study has total control over its definition and can make all the decisions necessary to ensure that the sample, questionnaire, or any other component of the study perfectly suits its needs.
  • Greater ability to take action: Most ad-hoc market studies are designed to support specific decision-making processes. Therefore, it is much easier to turn the collected information into decisions or actions that help the company improve its position in the market.
  • Client owns the data: The study is custom-made for the organization, and all the results obtained belong to the client who paid for them.

Most common types of ad-hoc studies

Ad-hoc market studies are widely used by all kinds of companies to meet their information needs. These may involve innovation processes – concept tests or product tests – advertising – ad pre-tests and post-tests – brand-related issues, customer satisfaction, and many other issues.

Depending on the chosen research technique, an ad-hoc market study can be conducted using quantitative methodologies – such as online surveys – or qualitative methodologies – such as focus groups or in-depth interviews. It is also possible to use more innovative methodologies such as online communities or neuromarketing.

What is syndicated market research?

A syndicated market study is a type of research conducted by an organization and offered to multiple companies that pay to access the resulting data and analysis. Unlike ad-hoc studies, which are designed and carried out to address specific questions or problems of a single company at a particular time, syndicated market studies are designed to cover a wide range of needs for many companies.

Advantages of syndicated market studies:

  • Immediate access: The vast majority of syndicated studies are continuous or periodic, with data deliveries at regular intervals. Thus, when a company decides to opt for a syndicated market study, the data is already available and can be delivered in a very short period.
  • Cost-sharing: One of the main advantages of syndicated market studies is that they are funded through contributions from different companies, which do not bear the full cost of the study. Thus, they can obtain data at a lower cost than if they were to conduct the study independently. This is especially important for large-scale studies, which would be unaffordable for any single company.
  • Sector or need-based authoritative sources: Some syndicated market studies are used as recognised data sources when analysing specific industries. Being financed by various clients, there are more resources available to ensure large samples and to carry out more complex operations to obtain precise results.

The main limitation of syndicated market research is that the information provided may not be as specific or relevant to the particular needs of each company compared to an ad-hoc survey. Ad-hoc research is specifically designed to address their specific questions or problems. Therefore, syndicated studies are often a good guide for understanding market landscapes, but may not be as practical for supporting specific decision-making.

Most common syndicated market studies

In Spain and many other countries, there are long-standing market studies that are acquired by many companies:

  • TV audience panel or audience measurement panel: This panel is used by television stations, media agencies, and advertisers to quantify the reach of television campaigns.
  • Retailer panel: It collects information on sales occurring in the country’s major distribution chains and is the reference for market shares of all fast-moving consumer goods.
  • Consumer panel: It gathers information on consumer purchases. Unlike the retailer panel, the information does not come from the supply side (stores) but from the demand side (buyers), allowing for a well-defined image of their profiles and total shopping basket, including products purchased at small stores.

There are many other syndicated market studies, but the above are a good sample of the most important ones.

Which type of market research is better?

Well, the answer is, it depends. If you have an information need that can be naturally covered by a syndicated study, it may be convenient to request a quote from the owner. But if your research objectives do not fit the existing syndicated studies, it is better to opt for an ad-hoc market study. This way, you can design it completely to your needs and the decisions to be made.

Conducting an ad-hoc survey is very easy. Our research experts can help you select the best sample from our consumer panel, and with 120,000 registered individuals, we’re sure to find the best sample for you. In addition, our experts will help you create the questionnaire or moderation guide if you opt for qualitative research. And the data can be available very quickly. Request a quote and find out more about details. We will provide you with the best solution for your research needs.

Update date 28 January, 2024

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