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OPINION13 December 2009

Looking forward to the end of the recession

What does the new age of austerity mean for research

2010 must surely be the year the recession end, if it hasn’t technically ended by now. But what does it mean in terms of customer research.  Certainly in this new age of austerity, which I guess we are moving into, unless you are  banker, I fear that understanding your customer is rather like training and consultancy an indulgence ripe for non-investment.  The mantra is cost control, perhaps even more of a focus on Lean initiatives: forgetting the old adage from Prahalad that (a) you can’t shrink to greatness and (b) Lean was always supposed to be about creating value for customers.

In these times I am kind of reminded of the story of the motor racing driver who said that he always picked up speed in wet conditions because the other racers were slowing down: clearly he had the right tyres. But the point is, there is opportunity for the brave while everyone else is battening down the hatches.

The reality is though, that rather than taking any risks the focus will continue to be on cost reduction and solutions that are quicker and cheaper: never mind validity. So this is good news perhaps for some online solutions and the type of standard continously conducted survey (satisfaction and recommendation).  Unfortunately this also means that some of the more creative projects will no doubt be shifted to less risk adverse times. At the same time as a  defensive issue, there will be investment in social media as a platform for communication.  My question is, is this an unnecessarily pessimistic view?