As we enter 2016 and look back over the past few years, we can safely say that we are out of the recession and British business is booming. According to figures from Start Up Britain, 581,000 new companies were created in 2014, and we are on track for another 600,000 to have been formed by the end of 2015.
The market research industry in particular is thriving, and is currently worth more than £5 billion in the UK alone. According to the Director General of ESOMAR, the size of the global market research industry could be at least 50-70% larger than previously thought, worth £46bn rather than the currently estimated £30bn; clearly positive relationships between buyers and suppliers are constantly being made.
Despite the solid relationships which already exist in the industry, many businesses seek to expand on their connections and inject fresh life into their research. Nearly two thirds (63%) of research buyers want to connect with new suppliers, yet more than two thirds (68%) find it challenging to source new suppliers. Considering how difficult it can be for companies on both sides to connect, it is important that when buyers and suppliers do work together, they are each open and constructive so that great relationships can be formed and brilliant research produced.
So how can these businesses connect with each other to ensure the market research industry remains at the top of its game? Below are my top tips for success:
Be open to change
Each brief is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. With that in mind, the best provider of market research for a particular brief may not be the best known agency, or even a brand’s current agency. There are some brilliant minds out there but the best partner may in fact be a smaller, lesser known agency which is motivated to work with clients on challenging briefs and has real experience in the area. Expertise and knowledge comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes the most appropriate supplier may be a smaller research company that has the unique insight that is required.
Write a clear and compelling brief
It is ultimately beneficial to both buyers and suppliers to make briefs as detailed as possible, with clear objectives so that potential suppliers can fully understand it and offer advice and recommendations. An overly rigid brief constrains suppliers and does not grant them the opportunity to fully demonstrate their expertise and knowledge. Regardless of the size and scale of the research project, it is essential that buyers include the key factors of their brief; background, target market, objectives and expectations, so that only suppliers that are a good fit will pitch for it.
Be explicit with expectations
It is important that those wishing to buy market research are very clear on what they expect to achieve from the research project. Key points to cover in a brief are a good level of detail, realistic timings and clear budget parameters. It’s essential that they highlight deadlines from the start, specify sample size and, most importantly, highlight what the objectives are from the research, otherwise they may find they do not receive the results they desire.
It is up to the suppliers to demonstrate their expertise once the brief has been issued. Sometimes buyers are open to having their brief challenged, and even appreciate this commitment to their brief. By asking questions, a supplier is able to effectively convey its understanding of the industry and advise a buyer, demonstrating its expertise and positioning itself as a true contender to winning the business. Additionally, receiving advice on a suppliers’ expertise enables buyers to select a research partner based on strategic vision rather than just cost, making the connection all the more important to both parties.
Suppliers need to be realistic about what they are pitching for in terms of what they can deliver. Venturing into new sectors and pitching for higher budget briefs is always commendable and it takes a courageous business to step outside of its comfort zone. But they need to ensure that they actually have the capability to complete the job. If those businesses supplying market research over-sell their capabilities, not only will they struggle with the workload and get in over their heads, but they will damage the relationship with the companies which have commissioned the research and they may find it difficult to win briefs in the future.
If both buyers and suppliers follow these key pieces of advice to conducting business in the market research sector, the industry can flourish, enabling buyers to develop trends and suppliers of all sizes to stand a fighting chance. Being honest and constructively challenging enables great relationships to be formed and brilliance connected, so that British businesses can continue to thrive in 2016 and beyond.
By Richard Waring, CEO and co-founder, ResearchExchange.com