Value in Market Research

Don’t focus on cost; focus on value
An idiomatic principle that can be applied to a whole host of business decisions but, in situations where budgets are limited (and where are they not these days?) one eye has to be kept on the headline cost of a service. That said, for any given level of expenditure on market research, there is a wide range of potential value and the difficulty of determining value is not always straight forward.
As with any relatively intangible specialist service, market research can involve a whole range of activities that require the application of various technical principles, knowledge and skills and the average research buyer may not be in any position to assess how well this may be done by any potential supplier. If in-house research expertise is not available there is an argument for research buyers to engage specialists to assist in the preparation of a brief and assessment of proposals.
Even if this approach is taken, much of the assurance that buyers take from the purchasing process comes down to trust: not in the sense of who is lying and who isn’t but more the extent to which suppliers can be trusted to do what they say in the way that buyers infer they will from proposals and presentations.
Success in conveying a sense of trustworthy professionalism tends to come down to the range of relevant examples of previous performance and, of course, membership of professional bodies. The standards of, for example, the MRS Code of Conduct go a long way to providing a framework for professional practice in our industry but still leaves a large gap between intended behaviour and what is possible in relation to a specific project.
A number of recent exchanges on market research networks have highlighted a current trend for buyers to express their desire for value in their research by finding suppliers who are prepared to take on projects at what could be described as uneconomic rates: there are clearly other descriptions that could be applied but not in a public document.
The fact we are still in a recession (despite some recent hints of recovery) naturally means budgets are tight and some suppliers who are short of work will consider how they can trim their rates but for buyers to expect hard-pressed suppliers to work for what could easily work out at something below the minimum wage is only going to ensure they do not receive value for money either now or in future.
Good market research delivers value, not by being cheap, but by providing insights that support organisations shape more effective strategies that drive their profitability. To assume that greater value can be derived by encouraging suppliers to look for corners to cut and, ultimately, behave less professionally will only serve to erode the mutual respect and trust that should be the basis of all client relationships.
Everyone likes a bargain but, focussing on value is one thing and, as Tesco’s mythical £49.99 iPad example showed, taken too far, we quickly enter the realms of fantasy.

Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2015 | Blog | Comments Feed