Today's managers may be tempted to go cheap to cut costs on market research, using such online services as Fiverr.com or Askwonder.com. Here, you post a job and wait for freelancers to respond with a proposal and price. On Fiverr, these prices start at $5 (hence the company name), although most project are higher than that, say $35. These freelancers will do a quick job and price it as a loss leader, hoping that if you are satisfied with the first job you will hire them again for higher priced gigs.
Typical jobs clients post may include the building of an email list for a specific market, estimating the size of a market, creating a web page, or doing a profile of a competitor -- i.e. market research. What one has to realize, though, is that most of these freelancers are NOT located in the United States. Many are based in India or Africa or the Middle East, and communications can be difficult due to sub-par English language skills. And, they may call themselves a researcher but in reality they may have limited research skills and can't find the information you need. They'll promise you the World, but often don't deliver.
When using these services, you need to be VERY specific about the information you want, how fast you need it, at what price, and whether the "researcher" thinks it's feasible to get it. If it was easy to get, YOU would have obtained it already. Message them. Ask for references. Ask what country they are based in, and if you prefer they that be in the U.S. ask them to prove it by giving you their phone number. Ask for writing samples if you are asking them to write content. Poor grammar goes with the territory if you get someone from India or Africa. You'll have to re-write it. Ask them to cite the sources for the material and how up to date it is. How long have they been doing this kind of work? If you don't vet them, you're taking a big chance.
When "cheaping out" on research, you risk getting outdated information, inaccurate information, or wrong information, to save a few bucks. Market research involves a lot more than some software program scraping the Internet. You get what you pay for.
So, ask yourself these important questions. Am I willing to stake my reputation on the quality of this foreign freelancer's work? Do I have high confidence in giving this information to my boss? What's the risk? Don't "cheap out" on essential market research. Your job may depend on it!