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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Research industry study finds weakening confidence in value of MR

US— Two-thirds of research suppliers are experiencing or expecting an increase in client spend this year, according to a new research industry trends study – but agencies are riddled with worries about the lack of perceived value in their work, while concerns linger over the quality of online samples.

Report author Bob Walker, of Surveys & Forecasts, notes a “disconcerting erosion in self perceived respect for research”, with 45% of respondents in the most recent wave of the study – autumn 2010 – believing that research is valued less than it used to be by clients, compared to 25% in the spring 2010 survey.

Walker said that the latest wave of results coincides with an employment crisis in the US but still, he says, “such a large shift in such a brief period of time is nonetheless worrisome”.

Contributing to the industry’s low self-esteem are perceptions that buyers are less able to tell the difference between high-quality and mediocre research (67% of suppliers, 63% of buyers), the belief that there is more pressure on agencies to deliver faster results at the expense of quality (58%) and long-standing concerns over online panel quality. 53% of buyers thought that the speed of research work is becoming more important than the quality.

On panel quality, 71% of both buyers and suppliers agreed that “online panel quality is worse than most clients believe”, while 65% of suppliers and 61% of clients admitted to having concerns over the representativeness of online panels.

These concerns, according to the survey report, are expected “to increase more rapidly in the years ahead”.

The full report, produced by directory publisher Greenbook, can be found online here.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Thanks for reporting on this!

    Just to be be clear though, those quotes come from the primary author of the report, Bob Walker of Surveys & Forecasts, LLC. He deserves the credit for the fantastic analysis!

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  • I've updated to give Bob the credit. Thanks for clearing up the confusion

  • funny how being backward translates into blaming quality of online methods. that's exactly the right mentality to catch up...

    if confidence is weakening and value falling is because most research providers are not really in touch with the here and now.

    and yes, we have to be faster, because we CAN be faster. half of businesses is real-time (sales, reputation), the other half is not (products and planning). we are part of the reason why the second half is not real-time.

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  • ...But absolute real time research is foot-shooting. It assumes zilch analysis, ergo monkeys, machines, electronics can do it. No wonder we lack confidence and have sneaky feeling our clients don't 'value' us. We don't give them any in the model where speed is everything...

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  • let's put it this way: speed is not everything and there's many degrees of "real-time" but one thing is for sure: mrx could help with being a lot more lean, adaptive, flexible, iterative and responsive to social data hence more "real-time".

    and there's space in between 19th century paced humans and monkey bots, lots of space

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  • also Rosie, real-time analysis doesn't mean zero analysis, there's ways of conducting real-time analysis in a qualitative fashion, it's just that it requires a different set up, different skills etc.

    and again, you're right, speed is not everything, and even more so if you consider that businesses themselves are not equipped to take real-time insights on board in real-time, which makes the whole process pointless and paradoxical :)

    but from the article it sounded like quality is falling and one of the reasons is online shortcomings... which is not exactly the best mentality to catch up on the evident delay that's burdening the research industry, particularly because the main area where the industry is not doing well is understanding people's behaviours online

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  • It just means what everyone already knows.

    Online quant makes up the vast majority of research spend, fact. So this confidence is likely based on predominantly online quant on both client and agency side. Therefore this is pretty old news and the perception from clients that their data or insights are perhaps not so robust or meaningful using panels will only increase and agencies will lose more confidence.

    Luckily technology and social media will solve this because if you want statistical data on consumers there are and will be other ways to collect, track and monitor without boring surveys. If you want to gain insight through dialogue, social media research tools / online qual tools are the answer.

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  • Today: "Agencies are riddled with worries about the lack of perceived value in their work, while concerns linger over the quality of online samples."

    Ten years ago: "Agencies are riddled with worries about the lack of perceived value in their work, while concerns linger over the quality of telephones samples."

    Fifteen years ago: "Agencies are riddled with worries about the lack of perceived value in their work, while concerns linger over the quality of mail samples."

    When we stop worrying is when we become obsolete. Those in this sector know we've made amazing strides over the last few years. But the work will never stop. It will always be our job to watch quality and prove value.

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  • What percentage of the population (UK, US, any other population) is accessible, in terms of analysing behaviour and attitudes, via social media? I mean truly accessible, not just a member of Facebook, but a member of Facebook with zero privacy setting barriers. Does anyone know? Because I wouldn't want to rely on social media research without knowing as much about its reach as I do about phone, post and all the f-t-f media.

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  • Melanie got it right - 15 years ago we worried about mail, 10 years ago about telephone, today online, and Gill is starting to predict tomorrow by worrying about social media! We should also be worried about mobile... who knows, in 20 years we'll be worried about the validity of brain wave scanning?!

    Point is, nothing will ever be 100% absolutely representative across any methodology (unless you run a national census for every survey), but as long as we keep focus and apply care to our quality mechanisms at least we can approach any findings with reasonable confidence levels,which is usually what an end client cares about most.

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