NEWS2 November 2009

Industry trends study finds hope mixed with apprehension

North America

US— Researchers are hopeful that the industry will soon see a return to better times – but concerns persist that the downturn has created problems for the business that will prove hard to fix.

The survey of 512 researchers, fielded in August by Rockhopper Research, found 29% expecting research spend and revenue to remain depressed for some time to come, however 21% said the worst of the downturn was already over while 6% said they were already seeing better business conditions.

Meanwhile, a further 44% believed the industry would pick up before the end of the year, though they said they had yet to experience any such uptick in business.

In what’s become a well-worn phrase in recent months, Rockhopper characterised the mood as “cautiously optimistic” – though the firm accepted that attitudes may have shifted since the data was collected.

Still, the opinions expressed seem to be in line with recent results from agencies. Last week, WPP spoke of “less worse” conditions and an improved performance from its insight business in the third quarter, while ComScore talked of “a noticeable improvement in order patterns” moving into the final part of the year.

Whether such indicators establish themselves as long-term trends remains to be seen. In the meantime researchers have plenty of other developments to keep an eye on, according to Rockhopper. The recession has put plenty of pressure on research pricing and project budgets, leading 73% to express concern that research is becoming commoditised with clients less willing to pay for quality.

At the same time, 70% report shorter project timelines and a demand or faster delivery while 63% see the willingness of non-research managers within client companies to carry out their own surveys on the internet as a worrying development.

However, as Rockhopper notes, “under severe economic constraints and without strong confidence in a rebound, researchers say they have made do with less (staff, time, revenue) and are stepping up to provide quality faster and cheaper than formerly”.

“While it is hard to fault this response in a economic crisis,” says Rockhopper, “it can only validate client suspicions that they have been paying too much for research and that providers can make do with much less money.”

The full Research Industry Trends report is available for download here.

@RESEARCH LIVE

3 Comments

11 years ago

“it can only validate client suspicions that they have been paying too much for research and that providers can make do with much less money.” I find this a bit disingenuous. Companies are cutting staff and running losses trying to get through this downturn. The natural reaction when things are tight is to reduce prices to win business. Some money is better than no money and reduces the loss. The same position is adopted by staff taking voluntary pay cuts to retain employment. Have we been paying too much for research staff in the past? Could they have worked for less all this time? Adam Smith would be rolling in his grave if he could see this. I'm flabbergasted that no alternative view of this research is offered.

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11 years ago

I also find that comment about paying too much disingenuous. If the MR firm is providing insights and strategic recommendations that the brand team can use to improve awareness, share, or sales, then they are not paying too much. If, on the other hand, the research team does not provide actionable insights then perhaps you are wasting valuable dollars. The reaction in down times should be to work more closely with your research partners to find ways to improve the overall research process not just ask them to reduce their fees.

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11 years ago

You can always go on to http://www.studybounty.com and have your team use the FREE partner management tool that will manage and guarantee the best industry pricing from partners around the world.

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