Investment into market research in the UK has been on a downward trajectory for at least five years, but COVID-19 has made the situation much worse, causing planned spending on the discipline to plunge.

That is according to Marketing Week, which has been examining the current state of market research based on analysis of the IPA’s quarterly Bellwether reports.

The study found that the second quarter of 2015 was the last time a net positive balance of marketers planned to increase their spending on market research – although, even then, there was a balance of just 0.6%.

Four years later, by the second quarter of 2019, a net balance of 16.9% of marketers said they planned to reduce their budgets allocated to market research, most probably reflecting a trend towards cheaper digital sources of information.

And then with the coronavirus pandemic upending normal life, the Marketing Week analysis revealed that a net balance of 21% of marketers said they planned to cut their spending in the first quarter of 2020.

This then dropped further to 42.2% in the second quarter of this year before recovering slightly to 32.6% in the third quarter.

The situation is probably understandable given how difficult it would have been to conduct focus groups and face-to-face interviews with consumers this year.

But Marketing Week contacted some industry experts, who urged marketers not to abandon traditional methodologies because a complete shift to a reliance on digital sources risks missing crucial human insights.

“My personal view is that this isn’t a time to slow down, it’s a time to speed up,” said Tim Warner, VP of insight and analytics at PepsiCo.

“We’re having to work far harder to understand this rapidly shifting consumer marketplace, but I definitely do not believe that face-to-face research is dead. There are many instances where that will continue to be a critical part of the toolkit.”

Sourced from Marketing Week