Research in times of crisis
Updated: Feb 2
It’s well known that one of the most popular reactions in crisis times, if not the most popular, of business from everywhere in the world is to… you’ve guessed, to cut costs. It’s a perfectly natural and sensible reaction – in many cases revenues start to dwindle, cash flow is under pressure as well, and money becomes a scarcer resource.
And one of the prime candidates for cost-cutting is marketing research, as some companies are seeing it seen as a non-critical business aid – nice to have in good times, but easy to abandon when things get rough.
After all, who’s having time for this when there’s so much troubleshooting to do on the business front, right? Well, not exactly. As we all know, besides causing all the troubles and headaches, crises are providing opportunities for some companies. For example, a crisis might make a powerful competitor unexpectedly vulnerable. Or it might enhance a need, or even create a new one, needs which your products or services might be particularly well suited to serve.
So, if you don’t have a sixth sense that enables you to feel all the changes in your market, if you don’t have a strong, direct connection with your customers, that enables you to feel the changes in their needs, yeah, you need a bit of research, after all, in order to make sense of a volatile but also potentially rewarding environment.
For some industries, the opportunities can be obvious and might even knock at their door without any effort whatsoever on those lucky companies’ side – think the IT&C industry happy times during COVID pandemic height.
The social isolation, and the switch to working from home, drove a booming demand for IT&C products and services – from the companies struggling to provide their employees the means to work from home (think computers/ laptops, and the software required) and to ensure that the company infrastructure is able to cope with this unforeseen workload, from online stores who faced huge increases in sales, and so on.
Many IT hardware producers were not able to make stuff as fast as they could sell it. Also, many software producers were enjoying an unexpected surge in demand and were able to sell more than they could ever expect before the pandemic started.
Why would you need marketing research in times like those, when the products were basically selling themselves?
Well, a cool-headed company might see beyond today’s feeding frenzy and plan about the future, when things will get back to normal and selling will be not so easy anymore. It might think about the longer-term needs of its new customers and might even do a bit of research in this area.
When happy times will be over and the market will return to slow growth, or will stabilize or will even shrink, this company will be ready to fight the customer loyalty and retention battles and thus maintain stronger revenues than those who did not plan and research at all for this moment. And, of course, this company will be also able to exploit its less prepared competitors’ weaknesses, feeding on the customer bases of these competitors.
So, if you are thinking of completely ditching marketing research during a crisis your company is facing, make sure you’re not going to regret this decision later.
Oh, and don’t think for a moment, now that the pandemic is over, IT&C is less important. Today’s world is so reliant on computers, even if many don’t realize how much, that an IT&C incident (hardware or software failures, cybersecurity incidents which, by the way, are becoming more of a threat by each day) could spell trouble for many companies in this wide world – and that is valid for marketing research companies too.