Doing more with less: Crossing the boundaries of qualitative research to increase business impact

Charles Hageman,
Air France KLM
Annelies Verhaeghe, Tom De Ruyck and Thomas Troch
InSites Consulting

Introduction: Difficult times require a changing mind-set

Turning the threat of recession into an opportunity

The start of the global recession is characterized by the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 15th, 2008. The on-going economic uncertainty we have been facing since is affecting business and public sector alike, causing both threats and opportunities. The wave of bad economic news is eroding confidence and buying power, driving consumers to adjust their behaviour in fundamental and perhaps permanent ways. Throughout the recession, consumers sought out and were exposed to a growing array of tools, techniques, programs and emerging technologies – from list making and comparison sites to stepped-up loyalty and rewards programs – to help manage spending and maximize savings. This more thoughtful approach to buying has evolved into an appreciation for cheaper brands, new channels and formats while consumers are even learning to do without whole categories of purchase (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Kantar Retail, 2010). In every recession marketers find themselves in poorly charted waters because no two downturns are alike. Companies need to understand changes in consumer behaviour and fine-tune their strategies according to evolving consumption patterns (Quelch and Jocz, 2009).