Phil Hearn: Blogger, Writer & Founder of MRDC Software Ltd.

How much does market research software cost?

If you type the title of this blog into ChatGPT, it will rightly tell you that the cost of software to handle your surveys may vary from a few hundred dollars to many thousands per year. With so many survey processing platforms available, choosing the one that meets your budget and gives you what you need at the right price is important. So, let’s explore the five main considerations and their effect on the cost.

1. The true cost of using the software

Depending on the type of software you need, pricing models will vary considerably. Some may charge a flat licence fee; some will charge a per-interviewer rate or for a package of interviews; some may charge for connection hours or a block of hours; others will offer extra features for an additional fee. There may, of course, be some combination of these pricing systems. The one thing that stands out is that some software vendors have easy-to-understand pricing, while others appear competitively priced but have costs that soon increase as your usage increases. At the bottom of this blog article, we have summarised how products MRDCL, QPSMR, Resolve and Snap stack up against these five measures.

The cost of training

Having considered the cost of using a survey software platform, the next thing to consider is training. Again, this is easy to underestimate. The three key questions are:

  • How much training do you need?
  • Do the software vendors provide this free/inexpensively/at a high cost?
  • Does the software have good support materials like videos and/or documentation?

Some software needs a small amount of self-orientation, and away you go! Other systems need training ranging from a couple of hours to several days. Some software vendors see this as a significant profit opportunity, while others provide low-cost or, even, free training. Videos or good documentation with working examples are, I believe, a must. Again, some vendors offer no training videos or videos that barely scratch the surface.

2. Is there room for growth, and what’s the associated cost?

When choosing software, you may know what you need now, but do you know what you will likely need in two years? Your growth may come in different ways:

  • More complex surveys/analysis
  • More features/choice/customisation
  • More users
  • More interviews

Each of these growth areas is a potential problem. It may be because there is no room for growth in your chosen software, or it may come at an unreasonable cost. Unless you have fixed expectations of the software for the foreseeable future, choosing software capable of handling a bit more than you currently need without overspending is usually a good idea. However, more care may be necessary if there is a likelihood of adding more users or increasing the number of interviews significantly. Some vendors price the addition of more users or more interviews at highly discounted rates, while others are closer to a fixed price per user or per interview. If your business grows, your software costs could increase by thousands, so it’s best to check.

3. Should I buy an all-in-one solution?

I fully admit that I generally dislike all-in-one systems that, in theory, do everything from collecting data to delivering results. There are two reasons. Firstly, most have a weak component, but secondly, they are seldom future-proof. I don’t need to tell anyone in the market research or insights industry that the business has changed rapidly in the last five to ten years. Do you think it will stop changing? Of course, not. An all-in-one system is far more likely to develop a weakness as the industry changes. For this reason, I always prefer software that connects well to other software so that you have the right combination of tools available. Having said that, if an all-in-one system does just what you want for the foreseeable future, such a platform may be the right choice. I would still recommend ensuring that any software you use connects well to most other systems.

4. Do I need other or specialist software?

The question of whether you need other or specialist software follows on from the last topic to some extent. As I have already mentioned, connectivity between software systems is essential if you want to use ‘best of class’ software or, perhaps more accurately, the software that meets your needs best. You will, of course, need to factor in the cost of these additional software tools. However, it is best to go into this with eyes open and consider whether your chosen platform will connect well with software that meets your potential future needs – and the associated costs.

5. What’s the cost of a wrong decision?

I gave a presentation on this topic a little while ago. When it came to the Q&As at the end, the first question was to ask why anyone should approach any business decision with such negativity. I recall that I made no apologies for responding that every business decision should examine the risk. When it comes to software, the stakes can be high. I have anecdotal evidence of companies that have had to maintain old software licences, as they would lose data if they did not renew their licences. I know companies that have had to spend substantial sums of money transferring projects to replacement systems. Therefore, considering the cost of a wrong decision might appear as though you are using a negative mindset, but it makes business sense. I believe estimating this cost and building it into your software budget is prudent. I consider myself a software expert, but I have made some mistakes!


I admit that it’s impossible to make a perfect decision when choosing a software platform for your survey processing. However, considering the five topics above will, I believe, help you to get closer to making the ‘perfect’ decision for your business. If you are considering taking a licence to use any of our products, MRDCL, QPSMR. Resolve or Snap, we like to offer candid advice on how they may fit into your business goals. Please ask us.

MRDCL QPSMR Snap Resolve
True cost of using the software Annual licence fee, some free training, a comprehensive set of videos Annual licence fee, some free training, a comprehensive set of videos Annual licence fee, some free training, short videos and documentation available. Some minor add-ons available. Free for Resolve Base. Annual fee for Resolve Premium. Instructional videos.
Room for growth No crosstabs too complex. Increased fees at high discounts for multiple users Compatible with MRDCL for upgrading to an additional licence fee. Single or team licences are available. Fully-featured online data collection software. No scripting language for highly complex needs. Upgrade from Resolve Base to Resolve Premium for add-ins that allow more complex analysis.
All-in-one system A data management and crosstabulation system. PowerPoint automation coming in 2024 PAPI and CATI data collection with crosstab module Complete system from data collection to analysis and reporting Secondary analysis software for tables and charts
Need specialist software Yes – for data collection and dashboard reporting Yes – for online data collection/CAPI and dashboard reporting Yes – for more advanced tabulations, dashboards. Yes – for custom crosstabs and dashboards.
Cost of wrong decision Good connections to other software, so costs are minimised Good connections to other software so costs are minmised. May need to respecify some questionnaire features. Good connections to other software and external databases. Questionnaire features may need to be respecified but costs minimised. No/minimal cost.