OPINION1 February 2010

The new order is the old order

Opinion

According to a new Forrester report it appears that recession-struck research buyers will no longer commission “research for research’s sake”.

According to a new Forrester report it appears that recession-struck research buyers will no longer commission “research for research’s sake”.

The report also goes on to predict that clientside research departments will look to save costs through the scrutiny of research contracts and that researchers will be forced to construct “models, scorecards or dashboards that communicate constantly, consistently and effectively what the market research department is doing and how that affects the organisation”. Forrester also believes that buyers will give more consideration to whether work can be conducted in-house.

I’d like to consider those four predictions. First, clients to save costs in 2010? You don’t say, Nostradamus. Second, on the subject of ROI measurement tools, I’ll believe they work when I see them work.

Then we have an end to research for research’s sake. I’m confused by this one. Who are these clients who, up until now, have been commissioning willy-nilly, not
giving a hoot for the results or methodologies and failing to hold agencies to account?

Finally we have the prospect of more research projects conducted in-house. All too possible. It will mean that agencies will require specialist skills and be able to provide more than just the data. Perhaps to act as consultants? No news there.

The truth is that no new order for 2010 is being predicted here. Research providers are entirely acclimatised to buyers who want more for less. In fact, in many cases the research providers have led the ‘more for less’ movement by injecting insight and consultancy into their service.

This stance being taken by the clientside sounds a little familiar to me. It does not sound like the language used by marketing departments or in-house research teams. This is the uncompromising language of the procurement department. The department that treats the purchase of research in the same way as the purchase of plumbing, stationery and toner cartridges. 2010 could well be the year of the procurement department. A year where negotiations will not be based on carefully built relationships but upon hard templates, dictats and policy.

The recession has done much to strengthen the procurement department’s hand.

For any research agency that feels somewhat put upon by unreasonable buyer requests, take a look at this video. Within minutes the entire vendor/buyer relationship is laid bare. It’s funny. In a sad sort of way.

@RESEARCH LIVE

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