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2012 EU Forecast: Can The Market Research Industry Beat Uncertainty In The Eurozone?

We don't know for certain that another recession will hit in 2012, but it seems unlikely that the Eurozone is going to avoid it. For any brand or business to progress they need to be reactive to the market and to consumer trends.


Editor’s Note: With yesterday’s news regarding the SurveyMonkey/MarketTools deal (which I covered here) today’s post by Ben Leet of uSamp seems particularly appropriate. It was the first wave of the recession that drove me to close Rockhopper and begin this adventure in exploring both innovative research approaches and business models, so thoughts around how to build a recession-resistant market research offering is never far from my mind. I think Ben nails the analysis here: the key is meeting client needs in a changing business environment and delivering maximum impact.

Like it or not, in this economic climate that means cheaper/faster/(maybe) better will be part of the decision calculus from buyers. For sure  other factors such as expertize, relationship building, and service quality come into play as well, but we simply cannot ignore the economic factors and their impact on the transformation of the market research value proposition.

Enjoy Ben’s post; it shouldn’t be taken as a dire prediction but rather as input for smart strategic decision making by business leaders.

By Ben Leet

The European Economy is back on the brink. In recent weeks we’ve seen new governments installed in Greece and Italy, debt levels rising to dangerous levels in other EU countries, and a European Central Bank that seems unwilling or unable to step in. Politicians are divided as to the best course of action, which has led to very little action and has created an even larger sense of economic uncertainty across the whole region.

We don’t know for certain that another recession will hit in 2012, but it seems unlikely that the Eurozone is going to avoid it. In fact most commentary on the subject seems keen to talk us straight back into a recession, with consumer confidence dropping ever more steadily at every mention of the words “double-dip”. As before, there will be talk in MR circles about our industry being relatively “recession proof” – businesses still need to invest in research to make decisions after all, and many argue that this is even truer in times of uncertainty.

The issue for the MR industry is that during tough times, although end clients want to continue doing research, they also want more for their budgets –and they want it fast. For any brand or business to progress they need to be reactive to the market and to consumer trends; in turn, the MR industry needs to keep up with these new and ever-increasing demands. We have already seen the impact of this – online research is being used to replace other methods to maximize time and cost, even when online may not be a fit-for-purpose methodology, end clients have more and more tools available to conduct research themselves, and new methods such as mobile and social media are also emerging to cater for these increasingly tough demands.

Should a recession hit 2012, these new models will be driven forward at an even faster pace than we have previously experienced. In my last blog post, I wrote about the MR industry being conservatively innovative, with end clients being the driver behind this pace of change—a recession will only amplify this industry development. In essence, an increasing number of end clients will make tough decisions about whether to continue using MR agencies, or whether to try and go it alone. MR agencies that add genuine value will always have plenty of demand, but work that is low value-add and simply a data collection process will increasingly migrate towards end-client management and delivery in order to save both time and money.

With the right tools at hand, there is a place in the industry for end clients to self-serve, and I don’t think the MR industry should discourage this direction; in fact it should be embraced. The difficulty for end clients will be in deciding what they sacrifice and where – in depth analysis and high level value, or lower cost and faster turnaround. Ultimately, the end clients who get this mix right will be the ones nimble enough to move with the fast pace of change the 2012 economy will bring, whilst at the same time taking the right strategic steps towards their longer term goals. If only our European political leaders can learn from the private sector and engage in the same thought process.

As for MR suppliers, those that get their propositions correctly aligned with the demands and visions of customers can still be hugely successful in 2012, even with another recession looming. For uSamp, that means continuing to develop our cutting-edge technologies to keep pace or outpace the marketplace, and you can find out more about our products on our website

From uSamp Europe, we wish all our clients and partners a prosperous 2012!

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2 responses to “2012 EU Forecast: Can The Market Research Industry Beat Uncertainty In The Eurozone?

  1. Great Piece Ben. My bother’s been living in Europe for 20 years and he watches US Cable/Internet broadcasts in addition to European/Italian news, and everyone has their own spin on what is really going on and what is going to happen. For the long term, ironing out the financial issues Europe is facing will be a good thing. Same goes for dealing with the localized corruption as well as the much publicized entitlement issues. It does indicate potential instability for the near term, but the future is always uncertain.

    Corporate market researchers are definitely in an interesting position, stuck between doing things the old way (tried and true) and adapting to the new realities. One interesting thing to consider is it sometimes takes a while to see the impact of market research gone wrong. For example, it’s only a matter of time before a big company uses website or chat room traffic as survey sample and designs a product/service around the results … later realizing that only 1 market segment is purchasing their product/service, which happens to be the same segment over represented on the website/chat rooms. If corporate market researchers are charged with doing too much, and their internal clients are breathing down their neck and pushing them to leverage new methodologies for doing faster and cheaper market research, it’s only a matter of time until problems will occur (no matter how talented the researcher).

    If I were a supplier, I’d definitely be asking clients what they need in the current paradigm, and I’d be figuring out how I could provide it, no matter how far outside my company’s sweet spot it was. I’d be working real hard to be considered part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.

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