Will In-Sourcing Kill Full Service Research Firms? Some Notes From CASRO:

I just returned from presenting at CASRO. The topic was "Will In-sourcing Kill Full Service Market Research Firms." It was a review of the major economically driven trends around quantitative and qualitative research and why many of the online tool vendors for market research have had good years, while many full service research firms have not.

I was a bit jumpy about presenting to the CASRO audience, since it is almost all market research vendors, and I knew that some (who supply the enablers of in-sourcing) would like my presentation, and others (who are exclusively full service) would be less happy. As it turns out, the audience was gratifyingly enthusiastic. Everyone recognized that the self-service trend was indeed making some permanent changes in the research marketplace, but that full service would continue to exist in a slower growth form. Those who were on the full service side of the house were quite interested in discussing how to harness these trends to their advantage.  

So, what to folks think? Will the prevalence of online survey tools and MROCs (Market Research Online Communities) create a radical realignment of how companies spend their research dollars, or will it all end up being a tempest in a teapot? How should full service firms engage this trend? How should buyers of research evaluate whether to in-source more of their research?


re: Will In-Sourcing Kill Full Service Research Firms? Some Not

I think that in-sourcing and outsourcing are undeniable trends. In fact, among some young research people I'd say both are "mainstream."

Interesting to me is that people living in the United States and proponents of *not outsourcing* outside of the US often do not have US citizenship. Weird? Also, people that are only friendly to USA resources are missing billions of friends and allies in research.

I do not see these research methods as mutually exclusive. I do not think that full service firms will not go away completely. Where we are in Oregon, with 11% unemployment, I believe we may go out "in the field" again and it will be "the field." The US Government is "in the field" with the 2010 Census.

I'm seeing some clients who are afraid of missing *cell phone only* households and people who have lost their homes and forced to be mobile in this economy. Babyboomers still have $ and watch TV more than surf the internet. You've got to know your segments and I'm convinced after two decades as a researcher that most dramatic research errors happen in defining the sample frame and choosing the correct method.

A researcher friend of mine said you could spot some of these people prone to making research errors by how they talk. They choose a methodology instead of a method (their point was that you really choose a *method* because a *methodology* is really the methods or organizing principles underlying a particular art, science, or other area of study).