OPINION1 November 2009

The good old days

Opinion

You might feel a tad nostalgic as you leaf through our UK Research Industry League Tables. The revenues posted were for that bygoneage when the recession had yet to bite into the balance sheet. It was a happier, sunnier age. It was an optimistic age. It was 2008.

You might feel a tad nostalgic as you leaf through our UK Research Industry League Tables. The revenues posted were for that bygone age when the recession had yet to bite into the balance sheet. It was a happier, sunnier age. It was an optimistic age. It was 2008.

Way back then, if anyone can remember that far back, research was the debutante that all the marketing giants were courting. No self-respecting marketing beau would want to be without a research and insight operation that would always remain true, dependable and fiancially attractive. Way back then research businesses were the one business you could count on to ride a recession with panache.

Within the space of twelve months all that has changed. Our league tables, by and large, reflect a group of turnover giants that were on the precipice of a slump and a group of marketing giants who were slowly discovering that research and insight could no longer be counted on as a commercial sure thing.
It’s clear that, at some point, research providers will recover and once again take a slice of rejuvenated marketing budgets. It’s also clear that providers will face the new economy as much leaner operations.

However, there seems to be common agreement that this industry will be very, very lucky if it returns to pre-recession revenues and margins. There is hard proof that the research business is not a recession-dodging miracle.

This presents the marketing giants with something of a dilemma. The attractive research partner it wooed, chased and conquered could prove to be a little more, shall we say – plain, in this new light of day.

Some analysts and commentators have raised doubts over the ability of research and insight to invigorate or provide a failsafe for the marketing giants’ portfolios. Anyone claiming to have a failsafe in business is deluded. However, anyone who places worth in businesses designed to mine and interpret consumer intelligence is, we believe, highly canny. The industry should be relieved that the recession spells the end of unrealistic expectations of research and insight.

The tables reflect a market that was hit swiftly by circumstance. The shape, scale and operation of the market was overhauled almost overnight. In the spirit of this new pace we’ve decided to pick up speed ourselves by posting the league tables on Research Live so that we can update them on a regular basis. As financial statements are released, the new league table standings will be published, ensuring that these tables remain the industry’s most accurate measure of the research business’s financial health.

@RESEARCH LIVE

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