So, to be honest- it really depends. But I know that’s not an answer to a very pragmatic question, so let me give more details here, bearing in mind that it really does depend on your specific project.
Here are suggested minimum schedules assuming stakeholders respond in a timely manner. However, these timelines are never compressed – only made longer when you hit unexpected roadbumps.
A typical market research project takes six-seven weeks. This is pretty standard for a small project, say 10-30 in-depth interviews or 4-8 focus groups. Larger projects take longer, of course. And we’ll talk about Web surveys later.
Here’s a pretty typical schedule for a single stage project with one series of focus groups or in-depth interviews – excluding unforeseen “bumps” or unique requirements:
Week 1: Project go-ahead. Write and approve recruiting guide. Identify source for recruiting participants – internal or external.
Week 2-3: Recruit participants. Write and approve interview guide or moderator’s guide.
Week 4-5: Conduct research. This may take less than two weeks, depending on your goals. Four focus groups all in the US can be done in just one week if everyone is available.
Week 6-7: Write and present market research report.
WARNING: The biggest schedule slippage that happens, aside from getting all the approvals in place for the project go-ahead of course, is with identifying internal participant contacts. Using in-house lists or asking account managers to give us their contacts for recruiting may be time consuming and the schedule should be adjusted as needed.
Web surveys are usually faster. A typical schedule for a straightforward web survey project is four weeks. For example a survey with only a few demographic cuts (role and geography), 20 questions or less, 1 matrix question and no open-ended questions could have a schedule that looks like this:
Week 1: Project go-ahead. Determine goals. Identify lists for participation.
Week 2: Write and approve questions. Upload them to survey tool. QA. Run test survey.
Week 3: Adjust survey as needed based on test. Field survey.
Week 4: Close survey. Do analysis including filtering and correlating findings. Write market research report.
If the survey is being conducted as a collateral piece to support outbound marketing efforts such as PR or lead gen, add another week for copy-editing and layout.