We are now over half way through 2011 and hopefully you are reading this with your company having survived one of the deepest recessions in history! However, there has been a lot of talk about the fear of a double-dip recession (one in three Finance Directors believe the economy will fall back into recession, according to the survey of FTSE 100 and 250 companies by Deloitte; July 2011).
It has always been assumed that marketing expenditure is one of the first things to be cut in the time of a recession and yet historically the market research industry has been spared. At the end of the day, gathering market intelligence on what your customers think and what your competitors are up to is crucial to any future strategy planning.
However, a recession can be a very useful time to force a change that has been a long time coming. Pressure on costs has caused the research industry to think of more efficient ways of carrying out market research; for example, B2B International was the first to employ online focus groups to capture insight from business-to-business respondents. With budgets continually being tightened, data capture has more and more gone online and although that may be at the expense of depth, the result is that market research surveys can now be carried out on a global basis at the touch of a button and cost a third of what they did 30 years ago. This means that market research is now much more affordable to a wide range of different sizes of companies and decision-makers but has this commoditisation been to the detriment of true insight and value?
In today’s modern world where information can be gathered at the touch of a button and data explosion has rendered some marketeers paralysed, it is the job of market research companies to deliver more than just facts and figures and act like consultancies to help companies not only action findings but deliver growth and sustainable differentiation. Today’s market researcher needs to be a data analyst who can synthesize the myriad of datafeeds that are open to us now but more importantly pull out the key action points from a study to clearly inform a client what it all means and what the next steps should be.
Creating powerful customer insights has always been pivotal to effective marketing efforts and is even more challenging and important in today’s environment. With the world rapidly changing through digitization, globalization and deregulation, all businesses need to continually evaluate their offering and who their competitors are; otherwise you may just be at risk from a company, not down the road, but in Brazil, Russia or, more probably, China!
Companies must listen constantly to their customers to construe patterns and react speedily to meet the market's ever-changing needs. What we have found is that greater collaboration is taking place between clients and ourselves to work together to collect, analyse, deliver insight and make changes relevant to customers so that action takes place quicker than from the old traditional model of client-agency relationship. The successful companies of the future will be those that have a deep understanding of the markets in which they operate – and it is the market research industry that can provide this intelligence.