NEWS9 July 2009

State of the industry survey paints bleak picture for UK


UK— Almost two-thirds of UK research professionals have seen a decline in budgets in the past six months, and one-third are predicting further cuts to come, according to MR agency RSM.

The results of the firm’s ‘state of the industry’ research are the bleakest they’ve been in the eight-year history of the survey, with only 6% reporting both a real and expected increase in spend – no surprise given the challenges that have plagued the wider economy.

Earlier this week, the British Chambers of Commerce declared the worst of the recession to be over, yet 34% of the 345 researchers surveyed by RSM believe budgets have further to fall.

The average decline expected over the next six months is 3.5%, but RSM partner John Madden warns this may be a best-case figure. “Historically, people tend to be a little over-optimistic in their predictions,” he said.

Half of respondents believe the effects of the recession will continue to be felt by the industry two to three years down the line. “This does not mean that things will continue to be as bad as they are; things may get better,” said Madden. “But the repercussions will continue to be felt.”

One third of the 39 clients surveyed and one-fifth of the research professionals envisage continued restrictions on budgets for the next several years.

RSM says its results suggest the value of research is not in doubt – pointing out that almost a quarter of clients see MR maintaining or increasing its importance in informing business decisions. Instead, declines in activity may come from a tighter focus on researching only what is strictly necessary and important.

“I would empaphise with the view that we are not going to go back to how we were,” said Madden.