Making the Case for Free Research

In last month’s edition of Research, Chloe Fowler of Razor Research shares a big, crazy idea—giving away free research.

Her argument boils down to this: A lot of startup companies can’t afford to conduct qualitative research before launching a product or service—but they should. Or maybe they don’t even know that qualitative research exists—but they should. That’s where you come in. She’s not suggesting you give away free research to anyone who asks for it. (Besides, if they don’t know it exists, how will they know to ask for it?) But she does make a case for occasionally extending freebies to startups a few times a year. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Good karma. What goes around comes around? By offering a freebie, you’re likely to make a new friend or partner out of that startup. So when that company makes it big, they’ll remember you and want to pay you for gobs and gobs of online qualitative research.
  • Good experience for you. As Chloe says, “With a lot of clients it’s not always possible to get right up close to the top-level business realities that are driving research objectives, let alone briefings with the chief executive.” That’s not the case at startups, where you’ll probably be working directly with the “people who have germinated their brand idea and made it happen. They’re honest, assertive and have as much to teach us about business as we have to show them about consumers.”

Plus, she says the cost isn’t going to break the bank. “If you’ve got the time, can afford a little generosity and know you’re really helping a great startup, there’s nothing to lose,” she says. As part of our “Doing Good” program, 20|20 Technology provides free use of our online research software for anyone doing pure pro bono work for a charity.

What do you think? Do you give away free research to startups or nonprofits? Any pitfalls associated with this? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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