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Winds of Change: Three Ideas for Doing More with Less

by Monica Wood, Cambiar Partner

In the world of Market Research often times the function and its deliverables are thought of as a cost center. This is an obvious problem for the industry, as the Market Research function is in the business of value creation.  As we continue to want organizations to see us as strategic business and thought partners, budgets get slashed and headcount cut. So how do we be strategic thought partners in times of cost cutting?

I have some thoughts on the subject as this is something I was constantly challenged with while at Novartis and other large companies where I ran the Market Research function.

  • First, prioritize all work. I highly recommend this be done and aligned at the very top, as frequently as monthly, since priorities are always changing. Next, outsource low value-added work. This is where outsourcing to India can play a great role.
  • Second, make your Procurement Department your best friend. The more procurement understands that all market research is not created equal, the more likely they will be to accommodate the Market Research function’s need to add value and help drive the business.
  • Third, create “smart approaches” to get to insights more cost effectively. Online communities and other social media tools can be used to get early insights at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods of focus groups and the like.

Last, forgive my reframing this great line, but the strongest defense is a strong offense. I suggest you demonstrate and market the value the function has created frequently and to whomever is willing to listen. Often times the Finance department can become your biggest champion if they understand the risk the company is avoiding by using appropriate new product screening approaches, as just one example. The more functions in the organization and the more individual champions for the function you have, the more likely the function will move from being perceived as a cost center to a value creation center.

Have you been challenged with doing more with less? What are your thoughts on how to keep the monies and resources flowing?

Contact Monica at [email protected].

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