In this climate of tight budgets and outsourcing, can market research save itself from drastic cost-saving measures?

Seeing market research as an expense is not new. Parts of the research process incur costs—from purchasing data to conducting primary research. Increasing pressures have been put on suppliers to maximize value. To this end, preferred suppliers, agencies of record and other partnerships have been developed. For the client-side market researcher, “doing more with less” is a mantra, if not a corporate way of life. Plus, many companies increasingly staff market research departments on a rotational basis, to save costs and produce more broadly trained employees.

The combination of many of these pressures and perceived solutions has led to a devaluing of market research—and of the market researcher. While there is inherently a project management component, the value of the market researcher  should be understood as complex and of benefit to the organization. The insights provided by the market researcher are intended to identify opportunities, improve business outcomes and challenge the organization’s strategy. Market researchers need to help clients drive business while helping to mitigate risk and plan for the future. This is best achieved when market researchers are strategic consulting partners to our various stakeholders—marketing, business development and clinical development to name a few.

Perhaps to avoid falling victim to cost-saving measures, the market research industry needs to focus on changing the perception of research as a “checkbox process” to that of a valuable component of an organization’s overall strategy for achieving success.

In April, David Hooper left Warner Chilcott to become ­Evolution ­Marketing Research’s senior director, research.