Editor’s note: Suzanne Lugthart is the founder of Fathom Research. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Why you should never cut your research budget in a recession.”

Let’s face it, most people under the age of 40 probably haven’t had to make tough decisions about budgets in a recession during their career yet.

Those of us who do have a recession or two under our belts know there’s plenty of real-world evidence proving the brands who continue to invest in marketing during a recession emerge stronger and grow faster when things improve.

But what about market research? The latest IPA Bellwether report suggests that, on the cusp of recession, whilst marketing budgets are holding up well overall (+11%), market research is looking like an early and significant loser (-8%).

1. Adapt your budget

When recessions loom, businesses adjust their short-term plans accordingly. Research plans should also be reviewed to reflect any pivots and challenges. But whatever question is asked of you as a team, don’t let it be how can we do what we’re doing now but for less. Changing circumstances demands new thinking.

2. Protect the large projects that will shape the business’s future

Peoples’ first instinct is often to scrap those big, often expensive, strategic projects that won’t deliver their real impact for a few years. But it’s unlikely that your business’s long-term goals will change anytime soon. If you lose momentum now, your competitors who didn’t stop spending on research might get there first. 

3. Find new and cost-effective ways to monitor how consumers are feeling

This doesn’t mean investing in an expensive new tracking program. There will be plenty of data in the public domain you can tap into for free. 

4. Find value in what you already have 

Most research teams are sitting on a wealth of research, little of ...