Brands must innovate to maintain research budgets

Confidence in the financial health of the research sector has dipped but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for the industry.

Mindi Chahal

The data, which is compiled from over 250 UK based researchers, shows that confidence in the sector has dipped more than confidence in the overall economy.

Twenty-nine per cent expect the financial health of the sector to get worse in the next 12 months and 16 per cent expect it to improve in the next 12 months. That is a net of minus 13 per cent.

This is lower than in May 2012 with a net score of plus 4 per cent but higher than December 2011 when it was as low as minus 40 per cent.

John Madden, a partner at RSM, who conducted the research, believes the sector may be reflecting the lack of confidence in the UK services sector as a whole as well as the recession causing downward pressure on client budgets. Marketers and heads of insight are therefore turning to lower cost web research and data analytics which are replacing higher budget traditional methods.

Despite this gloomy outlook Madden suggests three key areas to consider this year that should help increase the financial confidence in the sector, including being innovative with technology and online communication, reputation of research and diversification by seeking opportunities in emerging markets.

Innovation is certainly vital in any industry but in market research it can open up new avenues to explore for data, for example online communities and using social media analytics. The use of mobile will also open up new ways of gathering data and should in turn increase the ease and level of participation from respondents. I’m definitely more likely to answer a few questions via text based research methods than take the time to answer a call to action on an email.

Being able to defend your profession’s reputation is also important. The need for marketers to prove return on investment will continue but in the first instance you have to ensure your reputation is secure before getting the opportunity to prove the worth of the spend.

If you have used research effectively and want to get your hard work recognised, click here to enter the market research category at The Marketing Week Engage Awards before 29 January 2013.

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