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OPINION6 January 2009

Looking forward to 2009

So this will be the year when we test the old adage about research spend holding up in a recession.

So this will be the year when we test the old adage about research spend holding up in a recession. Of course for us, a small research agency focussed on ad hoc work, it is not just the overall industry spend that matters but the type of spend. Will clients move more money to syndicated research, will they play safe and stick with the larger companies? Will they try and save money by shifting to new techniques?

All of these things are possibilities and different clients will of course do different things. Also our competitors are likely to change their behaviour as well. Sadly, there will be less M&A (big companies crashing together in a merger always seems to help the rest of us) but on a day-to-day level will other companies go out and sell more and innovate more or will they become inward looking and retrench quickly?

Then there is the issue of what we will do. We worry about cash flow, clients going under, sectors being hit hard, a move away from our core qualitative offering and ways of working that made sense in a boom. However we also have a strong client base, decent pipeline, an international focus (praise be to the falling pound) and some new offerings under development.

I suspect we are where most people are right now; confused, a little scared, a little hopeful and looking around nervously at what will happen next. It might feel a little out of our control but we will plough on regardless. We need to innovate, experiment and compete – but we must decide where to focus our efforts. So, with the arrival of the New Year and with hope that the economic climate will continue to push innovation within the research industry, I raise a somewhat tentative glass to 2009! Cheers!

@RESEARCH LIVE

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