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A good market research brief helps agencies lead successful projects. Learn what to include and how to write a detailed brief with our template guide.

A market research brief is a client document outlining all the relevant information that a research agency needs to understand the client’s specific research needs to propose the most suitable course of action.

A clear, informed brief will ensure the market researcher can deliver the most effective research possible. It also streamlines the project by reducing the need for back and forth between your company and the researcher. A good brief will leave no confusion and provide a meaningful framework for you and the researcher, maximising the accuracy and reliability of insights collected.

Start your project faster with our market research brief template!

In this article, we’ve broken down the key components of a well-written brief, with examples. Using this template guide, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

Business Background/ Project Background

This section of the brief introduces your company to the market researcher, giving them a more informed overview of your brand, product/service, and target market. You should provide all available context to ensure you and the researcher are on the same page with the project.

Relevant information to add in this section includes: company details, company mission/vision, industry status and trends, market performance history, competitive context, any existing research.

Business Objectives/ Marketing Objectives

Your business objectives/marketing objectives should answer why you are being asked to conduct the research. The researcher should be able to grasp the existing problems/issues your company is looking to address in the research.

For example, this could involve sales, competition, customer satisfaction, or product innovation, to name a few.

Research Objectives

Research objectives address the specific questions you would like the research to cover, including what insights you wish to gain. This is where you should detail what actions your company is planning to take based on the research you are commissioning.

Your research objective is one of the most important elements of your brief, as it dictates how your study will be conducted and the quality of results.

Target Market

Who will this research focus on? This is where you should state respondents’ demographic and profiling information, along with any pre-existing segments you want to target. Be specific, but also be aware that the more restrictive the criteria are, the higher the sample cost will be. Extensive limitations are also realistically harder to meet.

For example:

Action Standards/ Decision Rules

Action standards outline which criteria will determine the decisions you make following research. These should detail specific numerical scores and any company benchmarks which need to be met in your research results for decision-making to go ahead. Clear and detailed action standards will allow you to make decisions faster and more confidently following research.

Nestlé’s 60/40 action standard which prioritises preference and nutrition, by aiming “to make products that achieve at least 60% consumer taste preference with the added ‘plus’ of nutritional advantage”.

Pricing is seen as credible by at least 40% of the target market.

Product has at least 50% acceptance from the target market.


You should only include methodology if you are certain of the approach you want to take. If you do not know which methodology you should use, leave this section blank for agency recommendations.

Monadic test : Monadic testing introduces survey respondents to individual concepts, products in isolation. It is usually used in studies where independent findings for each stimulus are required, unlike in comparison testing, where several stimuli are tested side-by-side. Each product/concept is displayed and evaluated separately, providing more accurate and meaningful results for specific items.

Discrete choice modelling : Sometimes referred to as choice-based conjoint, discrete choice is a more robust technique consistent with random utility theory and has been proven to simulate customers’ actual behaviour in the marketplace. The output on relative importance of attributes and value by level is aligned to the output from conjoint analysis (partworth analysis).

Qualitative research : Qualitative forms of research focus on non-numerical and unstructured data, such as participant observation, direct observation, unstructured interviews, and case studies.

Quantitative research : Numbers and measurable forms of data make up quantitative research, focusing on ‘how many’, ‘how often’, and ‘how much’, e.g. conjoint analysis , MaxDiff , Gabor-Granger , Van Westendorp .


Deliverables should clearly outline project expectations – both from your company and the agency. This should cover who is responsible for everything required to undertake research, including survey inputs and outputs, materials, reporting, reviewing, and any additional requirements.

Timing and Cost

Timing covers the due dates for key milestones of your research project, most importantly, for your preliminary and final reports. Cost should include your project budget, along with any potential additional costs/constraints.

Contacts and Responsibilities

This section states all stakeholders involved in the project, their role and responsibilities, and their contact details. You should ensure that these are easy to locate on your brief, for quick reference by the agency and easier communication.

Ready-to-use market research brief template with examples

Start your research project faster and get better results. Using this template, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

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How to Write a Market Research Brief (+ Free Template)

Emily james, the science of stakeholder decision-making.

Decision-making is a fickle, individual process, which is built up on a foundation of environmental ...

A market research brief is a document a client produces detailing important information about their unique situation and research requirements. This information should include (but is not limited to) the context of the situation in which the decision to conduct research was made, the initial objectives, and the resulting actions that hope to be taken after the research has concluded.

This brief would come before the typical market research plan (see our example here ), and so any information that is contained within the brief will be subject to modification once in-depth chats between the client and the research agency have been conducted.

This is one of the most important initiating steps for market research as it provides the necessary information that researchers need to understand your needs as much as you do yourself. There is a lot to be said for being on the same page at this early stage of the research experience. While different agencies will prioritise different aspects of the research project, 90% of the brief will follow the same lines, so a draft should always be made and then it can be easily edited to the agency’s requirements.

Why Create a Market Research Brief?

Writing up a brief is essential for the clear communication of your research requirements. Clear communication from the very start is essential if a positive working relationship is going to bloom between the parties involved. This brief outline of a business’ unique scenario communicates information that researchers need in order to achieve a high level of understanding which they can use to create and further refine a detailed plan the research experience.

Key Components

Just looking at the many template designs out there, we can see that a research brief has a few key aspects that everyone agrees are important:

1. Contextual Information

Now this can be interpreted in two ways, both of which should be included within the market research brief. The first interpretation is contextual information relating to the business hiring the research agency. What does the business do? What are it’s values? How is it run? And then the second interpretation is contextual information relating to how the need for research arose. What are the steps that took place towards the realisation that research was needed? This timeline could span months or just days, but even so, the detail must be included for the researcher to get a full understanding of the situation at hand.

2. Description of Research Purpose

At this point, a description of the product (or service) which is to be researched is needed; whoever is carrying out the research will need to know as much detail as possible about the subject of the study as this will have a big influence on the research method used (more information on that to come).

A description of the target markets will also be needed at this point: covering the geographical territories, the target audience (consumers vs. potential consumers) and any specific demographics that should be included or excluded. If this information is known, an approximate sample size can also be noted down.

If a business is wanting to test adverts, product examples, etc. then example designs or prototypes are going to be needed for both the researcher and the participants to use in the formation of the research tasks and the generation of data.

3. Objectives

 Again, this aspect of the brief can be split up into two equally important interpretations. The objectives of the business are incredibly important as they provide another level of contextual understanding for the researcher. The other set of objectives that are needed within the brief, are the research objectives. Now, these are usually formed as questions that the business would like answered, but are subject to modification with the input of the researcher as they will know what is achievable, and what the business needs instead of what they want. Research objectives also cover what the business want to do with the insights generated as that gives an indication of what sort of research needs to be conducted. For the best research experience that ends in fully applicable insights, aligning business and research objectives is imperative.

Market Research Brief Template Shot

4. Research Methods

While this will also be subject to modification, an idea of what types of research methods the business might want to employ for this research experience will provide insights on a couple of things to a well-trained researcher. Firstly, it will indicate the business’ level of knowledge on market research, which will allow the researcher to adjust their tone, etc. to accommodate for any knowledge gaps that might be present.

Secondly, it will indicate what type of research that the business is looking to conduct (i.e. qualitative or quantitative, etc.), even if they don’t know it themselves. This section also serves the purpose of sparking a bit of research on the business’ end to see for themselves what options are available to them.

5. Business constraints

This is a relatively simple one. Constraints such as time and budget are imperative to communicate to the researcher, as this will be the main factor in the shaping of your research experience. Depending on whether a business is very constrained or loosely constrained will determine what types of research tasks should be employed, and how extravagant and dedicated a researcher can be in their pursuit of insights for the business.

 a. Research Deliverables

Finally, this is an optional category of information that will help shape the research experience in both the formation of the research tasks and the research reports. One important question is, what actions would you want to take after receiving the insights from the research?

If the answer to this question depends on the tone of the insights, then what options do you see for how the results will be used within the business? Different agencies will offer different reporting options and it helps to know which you would like. So, what type of report would you like to receive? The answers to these questions help how the report and project are framed.

Free Template Example

Use this link to download our free market research brief template. This template contains editable sections that complies with the advice above, with brief guidance and tips on how to make the most out of your brief. This template is currently available in .docx format only, and will require a copy of Microsoft Word or an alternative text editor to be used.

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Writing a Good Market Research Brief

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

A clear market research brief is the foundation for a successful project.

Research companies use the brief to understand what is needed and work out how best to meet those needs. A proposal is prepared which shows the approach (methodology), timing and costs.

Market Research Process

A briefing can be verbal, but a written document or email is preferable. Taking the time to prepare a good brief helps avoid any confusion between client and research company.

This is especially important when multiple agencies are invited to pitch for a project, and all receive the same information.

Below are the key elements for a good brief and why they are important to the market researcher:

1. Brief background to the company and the decision(s) the market research will inform

2. Objectives: what the research needs to deliver

3. Subject: what the research will be about

4. Audiences: geographies and people the research need to include

5. Practicalities: budget, timing etc.

6. Any other specific requirements

1. Background

A short introduction to the company and factors leading to the need for market research provides valuable context for the researcher. The background only needs to give a starting point and pointer as the researcher can look at the company, its products/services in more detail.

It is very helpful to explain:

Why the research is needed

The decisions it will be informing

While researchers may not have worked for the company before, they may have conducted research for similar challenges. Understanding the decisions, helps inform the type of insight and level of detail needed.

2. Objectives

A small number of clear and specific objectives (typically up to eight) provides clarity and focus. These not only focus the thinking when writing them, they also provide an opportunity for the researcher to add value by recommending refinements or to help define them if they are not already stated.

Details about the topic of the research (product, service etc.) help familiarise the researcher and can shape the final research design. The aim is to bring people quickly up to speed with the subject in question.

4. Target audience

Clear guidance should be given in terms of the audience to include in the research. For example:

Customers / non-customers

End customers / supply chain

Specific demographics, behaviours or attitudes.

5. Budget & timing

The research design needs to take into account information quality (depth and breadth of insights, number of participants and sub groups), cost and time.

This involves striking a balance that delivers robust insights without being overkill and wasting budget. The research method, number of participants, location and time available all have an impact on the cost.

It is important to highlight practical constraints such as budget and time at the outset, wherever possible as this can often dictate the approach and/or scale of project.

6. Requirements / support

Any additional or specific requirements should be highlighted, such as required location for focus groups, specific people to interview etc.

Similarly, any resources or support which will be made available to help the researcher should also be highlighted as this can save both time and money.

7. Flexibility

Finally, it can be valuable to invite the researcher to be creative, for example inviting recommendations for alternative approaches or solutions within different budget amounts.

Market research design practicalities

Ultimately, any market research can meet two out of three elements:

High quality

Fast turnaround

Projects can be high quality and delivered quickly, but not will not be cheap. Similarly, lower quality information needs to be accepted if projects have to be done fast and cheap. Having a clear brief helps the researcher focus on the most important elements.

Market research design elements

Despite the importance, it is not uncommon for information to be missed or deliberately not shared in the brief. Sometimes this can be due to a lack of trust or an expectation that if a budget is given, the research will be priced to it. Simple steps can be taken to build trust and make full use of the researcher’s expertise:

Reputable market researchers will abide by the Market research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct which ensures confidentiality. For greater assurance, the researcher can be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) prior to sharing any sensitive materials.

Budgets can be a sensitive topic and the research cannot always be anticipated in advance which can make it hard to give a specific amount. In these situations, it can be helpful to provide both a target and ceiling or maximum amount to encourage the agency to demonstrate the value of added investment. Providing no guidance at all can result in proposals that are a shot in the dark and frustrating to both parties.

The most successful projects involve a close working relationship, with the researcher being an extension of the client’s own team and able to add value at all stages.

Taking the time to prepare a clear brief and approaching market research with a collaborative mindset will greatly enhance the success and value of projects undertaken.

We appreciate you taking the time out to read our blog and hope it proves useful in making your market research a success. For more information please visit our website. Alternatively, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

www.advantagemi.co.u k

[email protected]

+44 (0)115 7270321


How to write a market research brief?

At the STR Tourism and Consumer Insights department, we are frequently asked for quotes and proposals from companies that require market research services. In most cases, however, we need to clarify a few specifics before we can outline an approach and costs.

In this blog, we’re giving some guidance on how to write a market research brief so you are able to provide the information every market research company will be looking for before providing a quote.

1. Write a few sentences about yourself

It is always useful to know the sector and industry you work in as well as the client-base or stakeholders you serve. It would also be useful to know the department you work in (e.g. marketing, sales, product development, etc.).

2. Identify what you want to achieve from the market research?

The ideal brief clarifies what exactly you require market research services for. For example, the research objective could be to evaluate  customer satisfaction  with a product; or you may want to evaluate the success of a marketing campaign.

Every market research company is keen to understand the main research objective as well as additional objectives that may cluster around your main question.

If you struggle to identify your research question(s) it may help to think of the statements and claims you would like to make as a result of the study. For example, you may want to be able to say things like: “Our market research has found that 90% are satisfied with X”. Or: “Our market research has found that the preferred strap-line is…”

3. Provide information of your target audience

Your target audience could simply be a nationally representative sample of the British population. But depending on your research objectives and your customer base, your target audience may also be quite difficult to reach. For example, in 2015 we were commissioned to evaluate the success of a veterinary service’s marketing campaign run in Bournemouth. As a result, the target audience were pet owners in the area.

At STR, we frequently work with destination marketing bureaus, hotels and other tourism and travel related businesses. If your target audience were frequent travellers, you could tap into  our panel  comprised of thousands of international travellers.

Bear in mind that market research services can be provided more cost-effectively if you hold contact details (e.g. email addresses or telephone numbers) of those you seek feedback from.

In summary, for a market research company to provide a quote, your brief should clearly identify the target audience that you seek feedback from and please do specify if you hold a database of your target audience.

4. Clarify your preferred methodology

You should approach a full-service market research company for a quote to make sure you get a balanced recommendation. But regardless of that recommendation you may have your own ideas about the best research approach and you should share your view with the market research company you contact.

Most commonly market research services follow either  qualitative  – e.g. focus groups, depth-interviews – or  quantitative  approaches – e.g. online surveys, telephone interviews, face-to-face surveys.

5. Share your timescales

The ideal market research brief identifies the project milestones and time references from agency appointment, set-up meeting to delivery of final report or debrief (if required).

6. Establish the deliverables

Do you want the study’s findings to be presented in a raw data format such as excel or a discursive written report? Do you also require the market research company to provide a face-to-face debrief? A good brief summarises how you expect the findings from market research services to be presented and delivered.

7. Your budget for the market research services you require

Every market research company is keen to know the budget you are working with. This is not a simple-minded evaluation of “what’s in it for me”, but rather a case of tailoring the services to your specifications. An indication of budgets informs all aspects of the market research – from sampling, methodology to deliverable.

As a potential client, try to remain realistic: If your audience is hard to reach, the preferred methodology is labour-intense, the reporting requirements exhaustive but your budget is tight, be prepared for a market research company to make recommendations on what else is possible within that budget.

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writing a market research brief

The Art Of The Market Research Brief

writing a market research brief

Have you ever told a researcher exactly what you want and been surprised and annoyed to find that what you got was neither what you asked for nor given to you when you wanted it? You know you were right. The other party is equally adamant that they did what was demanded. There has been a failure in communication: in particular an inadequate brief.

A research brief is a statement from the sponsor setting out the objectives and background to the case in sufficient detail to enable the researcher to plan an appropriate study. As a general rule a market research study is only as good as the brief. The brief is important to the researcher: it educates and influences the choice of method. It gives the objective to which the project is geared.

The brief is no less important for the researcher working in-house than for the agency. Research carried out by company personnel is frequently treated less stringently than when there is a price tag. The in-house researcher does, however, have the benefit of close and constant access to other internal staff who can fill in on background and product details. Though the brief is less formal, it may well be (and should be) as thorough as any delivered to an agency,

The research brief should be a dialogue. It is expected that the sponsor has thought through the problem and set objectives for the study, though these may be modified as the briefing session develops. Nor are briefs irrevocable. Information discovered during the research program may alter the complexion of the problem and prompt a change in direction. Progress reporting is therefore a vital part of every study.

What A Research Brief Should Contain

Some sponsors prefer to deliver their brief orally, developing points of detail during the initial discussion with the researcher. Alternatively the brief may be fully thought through and committed to paper. This can be especially important when a number of research agencies are invited to submit proposals. A written brief provides a standard which is the same for all contestants.

Whether written or oral, the research sponsor should pay regard to a number of subjects which constitute a good brief:

The sponsor may also be able to suggest, within the brief, a research method though usually this is left for the researcher to propose. Finally there may be special aspects of the study which the sponsor needs to mention in the brief. These could cover a wish to remain anonymous, reporting requirements and progress meetings.

It is always helpful for a researcher to see the product or service that is being studied, if practicable. A visit around the plant or to a customer to see the product in use can provide that important “feel” which researchers get from direct contact.

The Role Of The Researcher

Frequently management know that they face a problem but identifying what it is, its cause and the research solution are left to the researcher. With no formal brief the researcher must dig out the necessary background data himself.

Below is a checklist of questions which could be used by the researcher to draw out the background to design a research program.

Checklist to guide a researcher when taking a brief:

Company Background

Product Details

Sales Force

Decision Makers



Preparing The Research Proposal

Having received the brief the researcher, whether in-house or from an agency, must submit a written proposal to the sponsor which states an appreciation of the problem, the objectives, the research method and the timing. If an agency is preparing the proposal, a statement of cost must be given. An in-house job may omit this but many managers still like to see an estimate as a benchmark to compare with other surveys and as a perspective which they can use to relate to the size of any decision which may be taken.

If the proposal is accepted it becomes the contract between researcher and sponsor. The nature of business to business market research is such that it is seldom possible to know in advance whether the objectives or research method will remain fixed. Invariably slight modifications need to be made. These should always be documented and copied to all parties so they can react to them and in the event of any later argument, refer back to whatever was agreed.

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writing a market research brief

Market Research Brief Template

Market Research Brief Template, within the Milanote app

The perfect start to a market research project

The goal of any marketing research brief is to define the objectives in a way that a researcher can confidently build an appropriate study. This clarity will then lead to the 'right' research method used and consequent insights uncovered.

A typical brief should include background information, objectives of the research, details on the product/service being studied, who the target market is, key dates, budget information, and access to any past research. Read our guide on writing inspiring creative briefs to learn more.

This template is part of the Marketers collection.

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What do you need to know about marketing your small business?

Writing a research brief

Someone is writing a research brief

This checklist is designed to help you write your research brief - you can customise it to suit your own requirements

Background: About yourself

A brief introduction to your company will help the agencies understand you and your individual needs. Background could include:

Research objectives: What do you want from the research?

There may be separate research objectives and business objectives . For example, the research objective may be to find out what your customers think of the service you provide. Driving that may be a more strategic business objective - for example, does the research support modifying a service or product ? Remember, agencies must treat anything you tell them as confidential.

Objectives could include:

Target audience: Who do you want the agency to talk to?

Identify your target audience (respondents). Are they businesses or consumers? Are they current customers, lapsed customers or those of a competitor? Are demographics relevant, such as age, gender, income, occupation, location, company size, etc? Target audience could include:

Research approach: What methodology do you envisage?

Do you think your objectives would best be met through qualitative or quantitative research or, perhaps, a combination? Should the research be conducted face-to-face, by phone or online ? But don't worry if you're not sure. Approach could include:

Timescale: When do you need the findings by?

Consider internal milestones such as meetings and decision-making deadlines. Timescale could include:

Deliverables: What research findings do you expect the agency to give you?

Do you want the findings in a written report format or as a presentation? You may want to have both, or to have a meeting with your agency to discuss the findings. Deliverables could include:

Research budget: How much money do you have to spend?

It can help to give agencies guidance on the available budget, even if it is only a ball-park figure. They can then help you maximise your available budget and perhaps advise on an approach you had not considered. Budget could include:

Contact details: How should the agency get in touch with you?

Provide names and contact details for the key contacts for the bid, and request the same from them. Also spell out:

Written by Rob Sheldon of Accent .

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How to Write a Market Research Brief

Table of Contents

Why write a market research brief?

Writing and agreeing a market research brief clarifies your research needs. It also makes sure your colleagues are on-board with your ideas. In turn this helps an agency write a better research proposal and deliver more useful research. Thus helping you improve your marketing and meet your objectives. Here are some questions to consider and headings to structure your brief.

Background to research brief

First, describe the problem you wish to solve. Include any relevant context, for example, work to date, what information you have, and why you wish to conduct research now. Also how the issue or challenge fits with any other initiatives within the company.

Business objectives

Next, explain your business (or marketing) objectives such as to increase sales, attract lapsed customers. Be as specific as you can. Though don’t worry if you are unable to dot the i’s and cross the t’s as we’ll help flesh-out your aims when working with you.

Project objectives

Then, describe the purpose of, or expected outcomes from conducting this piece of work. What is your ultimate business aim? Specifically, what decisions do you wish to make? Perhaps to revitalise your brand, or create a product or campaign?

Market research objectives and needs

Market research objectives will follow from your business and project objectives. So summarise your research aims and information needs, and also note any pressing questions to answer.


Now consider who needs to sign-off and act on the research outcomes. Do these people have any specific views or needs? For example, to present to or manage others? Thinking this through helps get everyone on-board with your plan.

Research method, scope of work, sample and guidelines

Next, guide on the nature of work required. This focuses effort on what’s really important to get more from your research investment.  Consider too if you require understanding (suited to qualitative objectives), or to measure something (more quantitative objectives), or both. Though do not feel you need to be too prescriptive to avoid limiting a creative response to your brief.

Style and tone

Throughout, use plain language, and explain any unusual or in-company terms or acronyms. To clarify the meaning of some specific market research terms follow the link :-).

Research deliverables

Finally, define what should the project deliver, and if possible, what will success feel like? Do you prefer a particular reporting format (e.g. face-to-face debrief, report, short film, infographic)?

You can also download our aide-m é moire on how to write a market research brief .

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For a free consultation just call Guy Tomlinson on 01628 473 699 or complete the form below and we’ll be in touch. For inspiration on what’s possible please also browse our market research services and success stories .

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  1. How to Write a Market Research Brief (+ Free Template)

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  2. Research Brief Template

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  3. Download Example Market Research Brief Template for Free

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  4. Research Brief: Insurance in the Digital Age

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  5. Writing a research brief

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  6. TEMPLATE: Market research brief

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  1. Marketing Research methodology part1

  2. Research Brief EP. 43: ประมูลโครงการโรงไฟฟ้าพลังงานทดแทนครั้งใหญ่ของกกพ. ⚡⚡

  3. Research Brief EP. 45: SC กระสุน 4 ดอก 🏹 ที่จะเติบโตโดดเด่นท่ามกลางแผนระยะ 3-5 ปีข้างหน้า

  4. Research Brief EP. 48: 5 เหตุผลที่จะเป็นตัวขับเคลื่อนหลักให้กับ AP 😎

  5. Research Brief 1: The Importance of Fingerspelling for Reading

  6. Foams used in car seats and mattresses are hard to recycle


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