Writing a Market Research Brief: Introduction and Thought Starters

Posted by  D&M Research Team

POSTED ON  February 12, 2022


This post is part of a series designed to assist you in capturing and sharpening all the background information and business intentions that any research agency would require to deliver a focused and effective proposal.


As in most professions, a good briefing is paramount to success and no less so than in the world of market research. Whether you are planning a simple survey or focus group or thinking about a large-scale project, the quality of your brief will hugely impact the value you get from the research.

Preparing a good brief can be a daunting task though, especially if it is not something you do every day. Bringing all the background and considerations together regarding a business problem and then translating that into research objectives, executional considerations, deliverables and anticipated outcomes is a complex task and one that can benefit from a little guidance.

While it will take time and effort to create a research brief, it will undoubtedly be time well spent, getting you better results and return on your investment while saving you valuable resources on further clarification. At best, a poor brief will be a time drain on you and your team. At worst, the findings will fail to meet your objectives, costing you time and money.

That is why we have come up with this blog series. This series is designed to assist you in capturing and sharpening all the background information and business intentions that any research agency would require to deliver a focused and effective proposal.

We have seen a lot of briefs over the 25+ years of our operation and we know what an effective research brief looks like. Admittedly, it’s in our interests too. Having a great brief as a start point means we can really focus our thinking and design of both the research solution and the outcomes, including our interpretations and recommendations.

We hope that this series not only simplifies the process for you, but also helps you get the most out of your precious time and research budgets.


As with any project, it is critical before you start to spend some time thinking through the background and issues, and what you want and need to be delivered. Here are some thought starters:

  • Why are you considering research in this instance?
  • What exactly are you looking to understand?
  • Who are you looking to understand better?
  • Who do you need to speak to to answer your research questions?
  • Who are your internal stakeholders?
  • Who will use the findings or who is invested in the research within your organisation?
  • How will the findings be used and disseminated throughout the organisation?
  • When do you need the findings to be delivered?
  • Do you have a budget and, if so, what is it?
  • Will you share your budget with the agencies you brief or are you looking to be led by the market?

Think about these questions and any others that come to mind. Make some notes and speak to others such as the relevant stakeholders. You may need to collect background information and audit what knowledge exists within the business. Time spent here will save you heaps of time in writing your research brief.

Research brief contents

Next, think about the structure of your research brief document. There is no right or wrong way to do this but here is a useful guide that will help you with the structure and ensure that you do not miss anything important. You can include some or all the following sections:

  1. Background and the need for research (including an introduction, the business or marketing problem, and the business or marketing objectives)
  2. Research aims and objectives
  3. Methodological considerations
  4. Deliverables and anticipated outcomes
  5. Timing and budget
  6. Appendix

In our upcoming blog posts, we’ll have a look at each of these sections in detail and all the things you need to consider. Stay tuned!

For our complete guide to writing a research brief, download our FREE printable Research Brief Guide by completing the form below!

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