Where did all the consumer research go?

Where have all the insights gone?

The numbers and the anecdotes all point to 2009 as the most difficult year in marketing in 80 years. It seems as if marketing is under siege at company after company.   Budgets are being cut, marketing staff is being cut.  It is an easy target because the cuts can go right to the bottom line.  Market research is one of the areas under the scalpel.  Or chainsaw.  Choose your own favorite metaphor.

The risks of not doing customer research appear to be small.  We can all pretty much guess that price has become hugely important, that luxury is going below the radar, that “thrift” has become vogue again and not just for finding really cool stuff in thrift shops.

And maybe some cutbacks in market research aren’t such a bad thing.

I had a boss, Valentine Appel, who used to say that all market research was a waste of money.  Either it tells you what you already knew, so why do it?  Or else the research tells you something different from what you know and it can’t possibly be true, so you throw out the results and retest until you get the right answer.  Either way, market research is a waste of money.

This from a man who is in the Market Research Hall of Fame!  And, yes, there is such a thing.

Maybe it is useful to think of market research as an insurance policy.  It is a small price to pay to know that your business strategy is being supported by your branding strategy.  It is a small price to pay when you need every piece of communications to be more effective than ever before.

What is your opinion?

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