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The complete guide to Lean Market Research Process and Timeline to reduce Drastically your Market Intelligence costs NOW

In Brief

Lean Market Research allows you to cut the costs of classic Market Research by orders of magnitude. This is true from both the perspectives of monetary and time costs. In this post, the process and timeline of lean market research are compared to the ones of classic market research.

Let’s start by the big picture

It’s time now to start the practical and funny part.

Let’s start putting our hands on the know-how of lean market research.

For this purpose, let’s start by taking a look at the typical lean market research process !

Lean Market Research Process

The lean market research process can be summarized into 5 main steps that are called the 5 Ds.

  • Step1 is Define: It stands for defining the scope and goals of the conducted research.
  • Step2 is Direct: This is where the researcher performs a first desk research in order to gain a first intuition, build and validate first intuitions.
  • Step3 is Deepen: This corresponds to performing quantitative, qualitative, and primary research for deepening & fine tuning the outcomes and recommendations of the research.
  • Step4 is Deduce: It contains the final analysis and reporting of the results and takeaways of the study.
  • Step5 is Deliver: Where the researcher delivers the final research as report, presentation, service etc

Now how do these steps are arranged through a typical lean market research project ?

Step1, Define

It stands for defining the market research framework and what should be delivered as a product or service.

In other words, will it be a :

Service ?

Consulting ?

Report to be commercialized ?

Technical content marketing ?

Book / magazine / press content ?

Define stands also for identifying the market research type among:

  • Market size.
  • Competition.
  • Promotion efficiency.
  • etc.

Next, Identify the conducted researcg consumers main goals and expectations among:

Getting recommendations ?

Getting primary data and objective facts ?

Making budgeting choices ?


Comes then the definition of the budget.

This is done from both monetary and time perspectives.

Finally, among the same Step1 of Define, the lean market researcher identifies then the detailed research features for instance:

Make a first draft of the scope / plan / data types.

Iterate with the customer.

Define the final contract / report features.

Step2: Direct

In this step, the analyst Makes a first desk research or secondary research.

This step aims at gathering a first intuition about the subject.

This is key for orienting the research in the upcoming steps.

Talking to an expert of the target market at this stage is a great added value.

If it is possible, it’s even better to talk to more than one expert.

A good process would be:

desk research > expert(s) > desk research > experts.

It’s generally an iterative process.

There are Different online solutions for talking to well chosen experts that exist and these are exposed in details in the dedicated sections.

Step3, Deepen

The Deepen step is the step where at least 70% of the final research quality will be decided.

It consists in :

Primary research.

Quantitative data.

Qualitative data.

Complementary desk / secondary research if needed.

In this step, the researcher aims at:

Validating / verifying the main outcomes and trends discovered in Step2.

Unveil the last and most up to date trends thanks to primary data and research.

Provide unique / differentiating value through the conducted research.

Step4, Deduce

The shape & format of the report depends on the initial defined scope of the research.

Generally a slide show is made during this step.

A textual PDF report is also usually generated.

The deliverables can take different types of deliverables.

This is exposed in details inthe dedicated module that is reporting.

In this step, The used data should be referenced clearly.

At this stage, A great added value is to provide a clean and post processed version of the used data.

A modern way of providing data is to make it via online dashboards.

Step5, Deliver

A blended delivery of different sorts of reports is also a main feature of lean market research.

Example of blended lean market research deliverables are: Videos, audio books, online dashboards, excel files, PDF reports, slide shows etc.

This aims at emphasizing on the user experience when performing and delivering lean market research.

User experience of the deliverables is a major differentiator of Lean Market Research wrt classic Market Research.

Lean Market Research Timeline

Now, let’s focus on how the lean market research process translates into a timeline.

This is performed for different configurations of conducting lean market research that are: Lone mode and agency mode.

In order to outline the main added value of lean market research wrt classic market research, let’s start by the latter.

Market Research Timeline – The old way

Let’s start here by a typical timeline related to a classic market research.

A Classic market research takes on average 10 weeks to be performed from end to end.

First general comment is about how the different steps can overlap when conducting a classic market research.

This is because classic market research is often conducted by many members of different profiles.

The longer step is Step3, the Deepen step.

This is where the meat of the research will be executed.

The first two steps, ie Define and Direct, take in all 5 weeks.

This is where the classic market researcher iterates with the customer in order to define clearly the scope of the wrk.

This is often done through phone calls, email exchanges and physical meetings.

The research is finally closed by Deduce and Deliver steps.

These take a cumulative period of 4 weeks.

Let’s take now a look at the lean market research timeline in lone and standalone mode.

Lean Market Research Project Timeline – Lone Wolf Mode

The lean market research timeline exhibits how the process of lean market research is organized through time.

This timeline proposal supposes that the lean market research is conducted in a standalone way by a single resource.

Indeed lean market research can be conducted whether in single or group modes.

When conducted in a single mode, the different tasks of the process cannot overlap.

It’s clear that the step that takes more than two thirds of the global time cost is Step3 Deepen.

Let’s also outline that the lean market research process is generally iterative instead of being sequential.

Indeed, the researcher can start with Steps1 and some of Step2 than going on Step3 for deepening some aspects and then coming back to Step2 for discovering high level facts before digging deeper into them etc

Some researcher also like to start by sketching the general outline of the final report hence by Step5 in order to better organize the research scope.

Consequently, this timeline provides an idea about the cost of each step of the process instead of the time sequence of these steps.

Finally, let’s take a look at a blended form of lean market research and its corresponding timeline: That is lean market research in agency mode.

Lean Market Research Project Timeline – Agency Mode

Indeed, lean market research can also be conducted in group mode or agency mode.

This allows to shrink even further the requested timeline by 20%.

This blended format or agency mode of lean market research aims at taking the best of the 2 words of group work and lean market research efficiency.

It’s also an efficient research mode when all the needed skills are not represented by a single researcher.

It’s also efficient for experienced lean market researchers that aim at delivering research through a management mode rather than through technical mode.

This consists in hiring freelancers for the different aspects of the research to be conducted than managing the research work instead of doing it personally.

That way, the experienced market researcher can work on more than one project at the same time.


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