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Don’t Be An Ostrich

Don’t be an Ostrich

Preserving your Insights Budget

How are you, everyone?  Still fighting the good fight of meeting consumer & resident needs despite challenging times?  

We hear some of our partners are facing prospective budget cuts. Leaders may be wondering: “Should we conduct research now?  We’re still emerging from the pandemic, and now we’re facing inflation, supply chain challenges, and a possible recession … Shouldn’t we wait until the dust settles?”

Based on history, the answer is no, you shouldn’t wait until the dust settles – research & development efforts should not be postponed. Investing in future growth is a key differentiator between firms that emerge strongly from recessions/turbulent times and those that don’t. Harvard Business Review conducted a comprehensive study of how 4,700 companies emerged following three recent global recessions. This study uncovered that organizations which invested in research and development during recessionary/turbulent times are much more likely do well after a recession. “Progressive companies stay closely connected to customer needs – a powerful filter through which to make investment decisions.” https://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession 

Elevated Insights strongly recommends three types of learning in 2022:

1. Refresh Foundational Understanding

Despite the global pandemic, Elevated Insights has continued to learn from US consumers and residents through private and public sector research over the past 3 years. We’ve uncovered many shifting needs, priorities, and tactics required for success.  Some of the industries we support were positively impacted by the pandemic, while others were impacted negatively by the pandemic.

Similar to the varied impact on the industries and organizations we conduct research for, residents in the US share similarly varied outcomes as we emerge from COVID;
Some claim their quality of life is better now than before the pandemic, others claim it’s worse. 
But all consumers point to a variety of ways their lives are different now. Here is perspective from one recent research respondent:

“I think this year or so has been a huge awakening for me. I got  out of my humdrum acceptance of “normal” and got  thinking about what I really want/need out of life and what I am willing to put up with in order to get to where I want to be.”

Changes we’ve learned about span a wide range of topics:

Values

Priorities & Goals

Needs

Habits & Practices

Where and How they Shop

Products & Brands Used

Jobs – Great Resignation, Side Hustles

Workforce – more teens, less women

Household Composition

Where they Live Region/City Home

Where they Work Remote work

Services Used

Physical Health

Mental Health

Sense of Connection

How and If they Vacation

Hobbies & Recreation

Use of Technology

Consumers are also sharing appreciation and/or disappointment with how specific companies and organizations have helped them and stayed connected throughout the challenging times.

“I am so loyal to [specific company] … They have just the right level of outreach/touch and do take care of their customers. I am on [their] email lists and they do reach out and make me feel valued – particularly through the pandemic they were always sharing their new data – how they were taking care of their flyers – rather than focusing only on their profits.”

If you’ve held off on updating key sources of foundational data, we strongly recommend that you refresh these insights sooner rather than later. Learnings generated by updating insights now would likely yield a pivotal course correction. And this updated foundational understanding will inform where your organization invests time and resources and how you communicate with your target in the coming years.

Most foundational research conducted before the pandemic is now suspect – bodies of understanding that are ripe for updates include: 

  • Customer Satisfaction Studies
  • Need/Gap Studies
  • Awareness & Attitudes Studies
  • Habits & Practices 
  • Target & User Segmentations
  • Shopping Habits, Needs, & Satisfaction
  • Media Usage/Efficacy
  • App/Website Usability
  • Concept/Positioning 
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Quality of Life / Resident Engagement Studies

2. Gauge Attitudes & Impact of Current Conditions

Changes in consumer confidence can impact near-future planned activities and purchases, having a large impact on your organization’s priorities. While investing in future R&D is wise during tumultuous times, organizations will also need to make near-term tactical changes to weather the storm.  Taking periodic assessments of how your specific target is feeling and their planned changes in near-term behaviors will help you make data-based decisions on tactical changes as opposed to across-the-board cuts.

3. Build the Pipeline with R&D

Based on your updated insights of what your target values and needs, re-evaluate your current products/services, messaging, and pipeline of new initiatives.  Touch base with your target on what would best meet their evolving needs and follow your protocol for product/service concept testing, development, and optimization over the next few years.  This will enable your organization to have a jump on competitors who may be playing it safe and taking across-the-board cuts in these turbulent times.

With this approach, you’ll be much more likely to roar out of the recession: https://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession.

So, to our partners in marketing and insights, we hope this provides some needed background to help you fight for and retain your insights funding during a time of prospective cuts.  Encourage your organization to not stick their head in the sand or pull the plug on learning.  

Elevated Insights is here for you – and so are many other high-quality insights agencies.  We encourage you to stay connected with your consumers, refresh your foundational understanding, and build the pipeline so you can emerge from tumultuous times stronger than ever.

Debbie Balch
Elevated Insights
Founder & President

Debbie has over three decades of experience turning insights into action. Her career in the insights industry has spanned from working client-side with Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, independent research consulting/ moderation, and building a full-service marketing research team.  As a senior strategist with Elevated Insights, Debbie leverages this breadth of experience to help partner clients identify and meet customer needs.


Contact Debbie to discuss insights needs or to catch up at
Debbie@elevatedinsights.com.

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