A great brief possesses clarity, displays depth of thought, and provides direction.


Drafting a comprehensive brief takes time, thought and input from others, including your peers and chosen research consultant. Putting in the effort ensures the key reasons for conducting research are clear and importantly how the findings are to be used is understood.

In this blog we take a look at the five essential elements that make a great research brief.

Background – setting the scene

It is always helpful to provide information about your company, its current market position and where your company wishes to be. This scene setting is helpful for both internal and external partners working on the research project. It gives clarity of thinking, provides your starting point and your desired outcome. The sort of information to be imparted includes:

  • Your current knowledge of the market and its dynamics
  • Major players and key competitors
  • Target markets
  • Regulations, pricing, channels to market
  • Past and current activity

Objective – what are the issues you wish to address?

It is important to spell out what you aim to achieve by conducting the research. What are your information needs? What is your end objective? Well thought out objectives provide clarity to your research brief.

For example these could cover any of the following:

  • Find out who specifies your product
  • Identify ways to increase specification
  • Learn about why your product is specified
  • Know who is not specifying your product and why…

When writing your objective remember to make it ‘SMART’ – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

Positioning – how does this research fit into your wider business strategy?

Remember to detail how your research objective fits with your marketing strategy and in turn how it fits with your company’s business strategy. Like the exercise on providing background information this adds depth to why you are conducting the research, as well as direction.

Also share any previous research or information that leads up to this project. As well as showing how the current project fits into the bigger picture it also helps avoid any duplication of work.

Respondents and methodology – how are you wanting the research to be conducted?

If you have a preferred methodology for conducting the research then make it known. It is important to detail the requirements you have.

For example anonymity, how impartial do you want the feedback? Do you want to remain anonymous for full impartiality.

And who should be contacted when conducting the research? Is it current customers or your wider target market?

All of this information is important to detail.

Deliverables – detail your expectations

As with the previous point it is important to detail your expectations. Do you want to receive the top line findings in advance of the final report? Or the final report only? How would you like the information presented, in a research document only, or as part of a presentation and/or workshop?

It is also a good idea to detail the timescales for the procurement process, when you expect to commission the research and any deadlines when you will need the findings.


Communication is key when agreeing the boundaries of the research project. Delivering a comprehensive brief is a great starting point but remember to be open to suggestions, to get the best of the researcher’s knowledge and experience.

And finally ask your research consultancy for

  • Examples of similar research reports.
  • Experience in the particular sector of importance to your company
  • References

Further information:

Learn how we can help you with researching the construction market


Working with Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage has been conducting construction market research since 2000. Our marketing team have construction industry experience and are familiar with the industry’s language and practices.

Our commercial experience means that as well as reporting market research findings we are able to interpret these effectively and make sound business recommendations.

We aim to provide high quality information at an economic cost. Find out more

Contact us to discuss an idea: talk@cadvantage.co.uk

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