UK Research Industry Report

Just reading an interesting report on the state of the research industry in the UK from RSM. Seems similar to what we're facing in the US, although at least here at CMB we're seeing fits and starts more than continued recovery. Still, people are spending and while cost is important, it is not the only factor we're seeing in decisions. (Which is good for us!)

Here are the key summary points from the report:

Recession bites
  • Six out of ten research professionals have seen their budgets decline in the past six months and only one in twenty have experienced an increase.
  • This decline is expected to slow down over the next six months but a third still expect budgets to drop. The proportion expecting an increase is static at one in twenty.
  • Even with this slightly more optimistic outlook budgets are expected to shrink by 3.5% over the next six months (indicating a year on year decline of at least 7%.
  • Research activity in most sectors is expected to experience a net decline - most significantly in the automotive and media sectors.
  • Most research methods will feel the impact of recession, with face to face hit hardest (48% expect to spend less on face to face research and only 6% expect to spend more).
  • Half of research professionals think the impact of the economic turndown will continue to be felt over the next two to three years.

The impact of technology

Research professionals see technology as key to the way the industry will do business in the future, particularly driving down costs and increasing efficiency at all stages of the research
process. However:

  • Poor implementation of online surveys is seen as one of the key reasons for a decline in the image of market research
  • Web 2.0 technologies are seen as being important for the industry’s future, but there is a distinct lack of detail about how these technologies will be used and what specific impact they may have.

The competitive edge

  • There remains room for improving the quality of pitches to clients. 36% of clients state the overall standard of pitches they received was good or very good (compared to 60% in 2008).
  • Dissatisfaction with pitches is mostly due to agencies failing to provide innovative research solutions that are tailored to the client.
  • Against a back drop of continued budget restrictions and reduced volume the industry needs to provide value, innovation and a streamlined and focused approach to client needs.
  • Reassuringly for the best practitioners, the intrinsic value of market research to business is not in doubt - a quarter of clients state that research will maintain or increase its importance for informing business decisions.

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