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How market research can help steer through uncertainty

Tough economic times lie ahead. Bust follows boom, as the adage goes, but with the events of recent years impacting global growth, you’d be forgiven if any boom seems a distant memory. The global pandemic, political tensions, Brexit – there’s plenty to choose from – have each played their part. With central banks across the world raising interest rates in an attempt to curb inflation, some analysts argue that the US has already entered a recession and that the UK is not far behind.

While there may be disagreement as to the extent to which both economies have been impacted, with variable definitions of a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research, for instance, defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months – although they are yet to formally label current times as such. Regardless, we can all accept that both customers and businesses alike are feeling the impact.

The impact so far

For enterprise organisations, the impact of the current environment is likely to be felt business-wide. Though, our respondents, based in the IT department, were (unsurprisingly perhaps) most likely to acknowledge that IT will be one of the top three departments to feel the effects however, sales (40%), research and development (39%) and marketing (38%) weren’t far behind.

Almost nine in ten (89%) of the IT decision makers we interviewed noted that their organisation had already felt a negative impact of the global recession. Almost three in five (58%) state their organisation needs to refocus their strategies as a direct result of the global recession, with over a third (39%) citing a decrease in customer spend and 32% investing less in new products.

As customers review their spend, delaying purchases with stricter priorities, so too must organisations if they are to remain resilient through these difficult times. No manager wants to implement redundancies, yet 33% of those in the US have had to do just that, with 23% of their UK counterparts having to do the same. With overheads needing to be slashed, organisations are looking at various ways to cut costs. Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, a third (34%) of those interviewed stated that their organisation have had to redistribute their marketing budget as a result of the impact the global recession has already had.

Staying resilient

All of the IT decision makers interviewed (100%) agree that market research is important for their organisation. Phew, that’s reassuring! Interestingly however, the vast majority (95%) state that investing in market research is vital for an organisation to successfully navigate through a global recession, while 86% say that market research is even more important in a tough economic climate. And we’d be inclined to agree.

Almost two thirds (61%) agree that a significant benefit of market research is providing stakeholders a better understanding of where to prioritise investment, while 96% report that market research can help to navigate investment opportunities. With organisational spend under increased scrutiny, this would seem an obvious approach to facilitate such a refocus on strategy.

Over half (56%) outlined that market research can help decision makers identify and understand shifts in buying behaviour, crucial in allowing organisations to redirect investment to yield the greatest results. In unclear times, gaining an insight into how customer preferences may have changed would allow organisations to realign their strategies to maximise ROI on spend, and 54% of respondents felt market research would facilitate this.

The takeaway?

At this stage, we know that the global recession could prove an incredibly turbulent time for organisations, but, market research can help to successfully steer through it; with that sentiment being shared by 95% of surveyed IT decision makers.

So where to start? One smart choice would be with your messaging, to ensure you remain on trend and sympathetic to the world around you. In fact, 97% of our survey respondents report that it is important to resonate their organisation’s messaging with clients over this period. Luckily, if you’re reading this then you’re in the right place. Vanson Bourne has extensive experience in helping organisations to test their messaging and fine-tuning their materials, before they launch.

Once you’ve got your messaging buttoned down, there is ample opportunity to capitalise on and ways to get ahead, even in this environment. Approaching all (95%) respondents cite that investing in market research during a global recession can offer opportunities for growth.

There’s no end to the value that market research can offer, even during a pandemic. We can help you to drive your marketing and communications, pinpoint your challenges or subtly tweak your messaging. The economy may slow down, but that doesn’t mean that you have to.


300 IT decision makers from across the US and UK were interviewed in September 2022. All respondents were from organisations in the private sector, with 1,000 or more employees.