Can Market Research Be a Guide Through Difficult Geopolitical Times?
By Angela Burtch, Vice President, Merrill Research
It’s well known that when some companies experience economic downturns they trim their sales force, and eliminate PR, advertising, and eventually market research.
But other companies continue to spend on advertising and market research with an eye toward maintaining a presence and using market intelligence to ride the eventual hockey stick up as markets recover. They use research to make sense out of seeming chaos.
But what about geopolitical flare-ups?
The current global landscape is marked by geopolitical tension and conflict in regions such as, but certainly not limited to, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, and Gaza, just to name a few.
How can market research become a critical asset? Here are a few ways in which market research has been used in this regard:
Geopolitical conflicts can lead to significant economic shifts. Market research helps businesses understand these changes and navigate the uncertainty. It provides insights into how conflicts are affecting consumer behavior, supply chains, and market dynamics.
Market research can identify potential risks and challenges that businesses may face due to geopolitical unrest. This may include changes in regulatory environments or preferred suppliers. In recent research we conducted in the technology components space we found that companies have a changing and growing list of countries that procurement is not allowed to do business with.
Strategic Decision Making
Informed decision-making is crucial during these times. Market research provides data that helps businesses make strategic decisions, such as entering new markets, developing new products, or pivoting business strategies during uncertain times.
Understanding the market landscape during geopolitical unrest can give businesses a competitive edge. It can uncover opportunities that may not be apparent amidst the chaos. In a recent project we completed for a consumer software company we learned that a competitor based in a country experiencing conflict saw dips in brand usage and trust.
Recommendations for Market Research
Here are some examples of studies conducted that may be of use to you and your organization:
- Customer Research: Understanding how your customers’ behavior is changing due to the geopolitical climate can help you adapt strategies accordingly. We’ve done hundreds of studies among consumers, businesses, association members, etc., to monitor these changes—especially during the pandemic.
- Supply Chain Analysis: Researching potential and current supply chain disruptions can help businesses plan for contingencies. Maybe this is the time to conduct some IDIs (in-depth interviews) among channel partners?
- Competitor Analysis: Understanding how competitors are responding to the geopolitical situation can provide valuable insights.
Conducting market research during difficult geopolitical times is not just beneficial—it’s essential. It equips businesses with the knowledge and insights they need to navigate through uncertainty and remain resilient.