No country in Europe managed to report a positive net growth in its insights industry in 2020. The only two countries that registered absolute positive growth, Lithuania and Turkey, saw their growth turn negative when factoring in inflation. The situation is expected to reverse with the data for 2021 (to be published in the upcoming edition of the Global Market Research report), with all the countries expecting to declare growth except for, again, Turkey.
The imperative to move to online methods of research created a feeling that the price of carrying out research projects is low. This impression, indirectly, sends a message to clients that the financial barrier required to set up an insights department on their own is now lower, adding to the pressures some full-service insights agencies were already facing, and much to the joy of self-service platforms and SaaS companies (and the ResearchTech sector at large).
Easier access to research, however, does not guarantee quality of the insights. Instead, as ESOMAR’s Users and Buyers Global Insights Study 2020 showed, it is now more important, as well as challenging, than ever to maintain online quality, which exposes the true mirage of lower costs; the old proverb that says “cheap now, expensive later” may still be very much in place.
The freezing of budgets was a last hardship that provoked an even-greater shift into remote and indirect methods of research in 2020. While lower prices (one of the findings of ESOMAR’s Global Prices Study 2021) imply that clients can obtain greater insight for the same price, the impact affects the human element (since this industry generally requires substantially fewer employees to function, albeit with oftentimes higher salaries), but also impacts upon quality measures, as maintaining online quality parameters is considerably more challenging than is believed.