“Which do you prefer – better, faster or cheaper?” I’m sure if you asked your clients directly which they would choose, their immediate response would, of course, be “All three!”
But if they had to pick one, which one do you think it would be? It’s a topic I discuss frequently with firms across the MR industry.
The [sort of] logical, knee-jerk response is “cheaper.” Anything to save a buck, right? And if they can get the same service over the same timeline for less money, why wouldn’t they ask? In fact, they have been programmed to do just that. Add to that the proliferation of things like procurement departments and reverse auctions now being part of the market research buying process… and it’s clear that dollars and cents are important. But I don’t think that’s it.
Some might say “better.” The better the insights, the better the decision-making… and everyone wins. Plus, it’s the answer MR firms want to hear. As most will tell you, “we do great work, we have great people, we even give our work senior-level attention all through the process.” So why not play to our strengths?
But I think – if the research buyer had to pick only one – they’d choose “faster.” Here’s why…
- Senior Leadership at the brands is evaluated on revenue growth. They are held accountable to a Board of Directors and [often times] shareholders. They have a very high sense of urgency to generate revenue as rapidly as possible. The faster that products get to market, the better! To make that happen, they turn to their Brand & Marketing Managers.
- Brand & Marketing Managers – the ultimate users of the research findings – then have to make their marketing and product decisions faster and faster to satisfy their bosses (and those pesky shareholders). So, they push on the Consumer Insights or Corporate Research team to execute research and deliver the findings faster. And what do they do?
- The Consumer Insights/Corp. Research team – in an effort to respond to the Brand & Marketing Managers with solid research and findings – turns to YOU, their Suppliers, to “speed things up.”
- As Suppliers – MR agencies, moderators, fieldwork firms and panel providers – you now have to jump through hoops, even taking some shortcuts in the interest of saving time, to develop and execute on projects faster than ever before, even the highly complex ones. So, you do it… but not necessarily following a method you would have recommended. It may not your best work, but at least it got done quickly, right? Oh, and by the way… if you can do it faster, it takes less hours, so it must also be cheaper, right?
Color me cynical, but I just don’t see a lot of evidence that the quality of work is valued like it used to be. I hope I’m wrong… and I’d love to hear from some of you to tell me so (or to validate my better-faster-cheaper hypothesis).