An increase in confidence can of course be taken as a good sign but the problems raised by marketers and consumers act as a rain cloud over the positive sentiments and with market research you have to take the good with the bad.
Let’s start with the researchers. RSM’s latest Research Professionals’ survey suggests UK researchers are feeling more positive and are expecting an improvement in the financial prospects of their own business, the wider economy and the research sector as a whole.
Also the rate of growth being reported for budgets has increased with respondents reporting growth of 6.5 per cent over the year, compared with 1.9 per cent in December 2012 and 1.7 per cent in May 2012. For the next 12 months participants are forecasting 5.8 per cent growth.
It is the consumers and marketers who raise important issues underlying the increase in confidence. According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), marketers’ confidence in the performance and prospects for their business is five times higher than 12 months ago.
Good news but as the report shows 55 per cent of respondents felt that their insights into consumer behaviour were not proactively used by their colleagues, which the CIM sees as businesses “missing a trick” when it comes to leveraging their marketing department’s customer insights teams.
Consumers are also feeling rather positive about their outlook in terms of purchasing power. Research by GfK shows purchase intent in the next 12 months which highlights a slight increase in confidence as consumers who say they will spend less on buying new clothes has decreased from 37 per cent in May 2012 to 23 per cent in December 2012.
Consumers also believe the downturn will have less effect on the money they can spend with 63 per cent saying it will have an effect in May decreasing to 55 per cent in December.
But the downfall here is that despite a slight increase in confidence, consumer behaviour has adapted to recessionary times and the research also shows that shoppers continue to mix and match the retailers they shop from. This means brands still have to work on keeping the attention of shoppers.
All these reports of confidence are as stable as the British weather and the negatives need to be researched alongside the positive and continuing to measure both will ensure brands get helpful industry insights.