In the America, spending on market research has dipped for four consecutive quarters, and chief marketing officers don’t expect the situation to turn around soon.

In flush times, a rising tide of consumption can compensate for less than optimal branding, positioning, pricing, or segmentation. That is certainly not the case now. At the same time that marketers must pare down research expenditures, they face added pressure to secure high-quality data and insights. Some marketers focus their research on the products, brands, and markets that are key to their marketing strategy. It is important to get a clear impression on existing core customers, including those who are most loyal to the brand and those who are most profitable. When times are good, there is budget available for increased research on secondary products or customers. Now, nice-to-knows that are not essential will have to wait. Marketers and research suppliers who trust each other and have established long-term relationships can jointly plan how to extract more insights and make better decisions based on fewer expenditures. For example, combining data sets may reveal new leading indicators of changes in consumer behavior. Tracking studies may have an edge over one-off projects.

Motivational research is most valuable when powerful underlying motives are suspected of exerting influence upon consumer behavior. How will the Internet influence the marketing research industry? The most obvious and immediate impact will be the use of the Internet as a new data collection medium. The implication for the research industry is that sloppily conducted Internet research might impugn the credibility of properly conducted Internet research, and indeed impugn the credibility of all marketing research.

It is important that the research industry make sure that clients understand the risks, trade-offs and mechanics of Internet research so clients can make intelligent decisions about the use of Internet surveys.