Breitstein: In this time of belt-tightening, how can market researchers prove their value?
Kalb: Visit the C-suite folks and ask the following questions: What keeps you up at night over the next 12 months? What keeps you
up at night over the next three to five years? What keeps you up at night over the next 10 to 15 years? Then your agenda for
the next year is set because your objectives are there. You don't wind up answering the wrong question—the one that
doesn't matter—because it was passed along from the top down.
Sibley: The first thing we need to do is be out there much more in terms of helping them craft the marketing objectives. Our insight
should drive that. I don't know how one can put together a marketing research plan if you haven't done a situation analysis
to digest everything you've already done.
One of the other things we must do sometimes is to push back and say when we should not be conducting research.
Clinton: Like where?
Sibley: Red versus green backgrounds of a visual aid. The value from testing yet another visual aid versus really understanding drivers
in the market and what's causing consumers to behave one way or the other.
Cooke: Or if the error around a decision is minimal.
Fox: Another example would be a trade-off analysis for compound development, when a compound is already far enough long that you
can't change the course. At that point, just go into a possible forecasting study.
Barnes: On the other hand, there's a lot less wasteful research being done now. Most of our pharmaceutical clients are less involved
in spending the budget, and more involved in using the budget.
Clinton: Has that made market researchers more accountable for their recommendations?
Cooke: Accountability is difficult, especially when manufacturers hire several agencies, because you are not coming up with the
end decision. You are developing the guidance to help minimize the risk around the final decision.
Brodsky: I would argue that in some respects, we are accountable for those decisions. Obviously some are out of our control. But you
need to try to shape the issues, to have appropriate appreciation for what marketing research can and can't do. Ultimately,
we're equal shareholders responsible for making these decisions, which are more often right than they are wrong.
Kalb: Look outside the pharmaceutical industry for a moment. The United States government said they had research that showed there
were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The intelligence team gave that advice to the chief executive to make a decision.
Now it's later. Where does the blame reside? Is it with the executive or the intelligence department? It's probably a shared