While the options listed above are the most widely used methods for obtaining low-cost market research, there are a few additional options to consider.
College professors often cite industry research as part of their own scholarly efforts when they conduct their own research studies. Many of these academic works can be found in academic journals and within research centers established by many universities. The websites of these centers frequently post articles and working papers containing market data, most of which are freely accessible. A search using the keywords “research center” along with industry or product keywords may yield a list.
Many not-for-profit groups have an organizational mission directed at supporting causes they feel are not well-supported in society. Examples include groups focusing on the environment, education, and health care. As would be expected a considerable portion of their focus looks at how businesses impact these issues. Research seekers will find the best funded of these groups carry out an active market research agenda with many of their studies freely available on their websites.
Several websites allow information seekers to post questions to supposed experts in a field. On an effectiveness scale these sites probably do not rate very high for providing hard numbers and whether someone responding is truly an expert is open for debate. But those responding to a user’s question may still provide value in offering direction to someone seeking information.
In some cases, where a market is not prone to rapid change, older market reports could hold enough information to answer a research question. As we will see in our discussion of Data Collection: High-Cost Secondary Research, in many cases a new market report is an update of a previously released report. While new reports are often very expensive, the research company may sell previous reports for a heavy discount.