What Drives the Cost of a Research Community?


A research community can be a significant investment. But when appropriately developed and cultivated, the cost is well worth it – enabling a third-party partner to engage with consumers and glean insights in an efficient manner. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” guide to determining the exact dollar amount to budget for your research community, having an understanding of the components that contribute to the overall community investment will enable you and your organization to make an informed decision about which components are most critical to your business needs.

Five key cost-determining factors include:


The member composition of your community should be tailored to your specific community needs, and as such, impacts the cost of bringing members into your community. Influencing factors include:


The platform technology itself requires web hosting fees as well as development fees to enable continuous maintenance and upgrades. Fee amounts can vary greatly between different platform providers – ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Determinant factors can include the platform’s features, the platform’s development pipeline, the volume of member accounts being hosted, and if or what other software integrations you plan to connect to the community. Fees may be processed on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

Project management

In order to keep the community running smoothly, project management labor will be allocated to:

Research services

Dependent upon your research community partner’s role in executing and analyzing research activities within the community, research services could make up a small component or the largest component of the overall research community cost. The amount allocated to research services will depend on several factors, including:


An important way to keep members interested and minimize member attrition are monetary incentives for participation. There are different options for incentivizing members, including:

Now that you have a better understanding of the factors influencing a research community’s cost, consider your organization’s specific needs and determine the right level of investment to deliver against those needs. While you’re researching communities, check out this blog post about top partner selection considerations here: When Considering Research Community Partners, Take These Four Factors into Account.

Learn more about Research Communities