4 Things to Remember When Market Research Goliaths Merge

By Lisa Wilding-Brown

There is a reason we see so many mergers – they offer a bevy of benefits for the companies involved. However, mergers can be problematic for the consumer and client by creating new challenges in communication, quality control, and administration.

The recent SSI and Research Now merger is a landscape-changing transaction in the industry.  Here are four things you should remember with significant mergers.

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1. Priorities Change

With any merger, priorities for a business can change drastically.  New investors will expect a return on their investment in a relatively short period of time.  Newfound financial goals can result in major shifts in strategy impacting personnel, existing internal tools, externally-facing products, revenue channels and even credit terms. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to make a strategic pivot to new partners should the need arise.  Your business must come first!

2. Shifting Philosophy on Quality

Quality philosophies might differ between two companies as well. You might have been perfectly happy with the level of quality and the processes in place from a supplier.  This could all change after a merger that forces two different organizations to restructure how they approach common problems in the industry and to address any differences in quality between the two organizations.

3. Teaching a New Team About Your Company

You’ve invested years teaching your sample provider about your company – what you do, why you do it, and your preferences and expectations. Following a merger, there are often changes to staffing and management that can mean a hard reset on the time you’ve invested. Mergers often don’t keep both teams fully intact. One team will remain with several changes based on factors that may not be beneficial to the client. This could put trusted business relationships you had with one vendor in peril.

Employ a proactive approach with your provider to fully understanding what they do and how they do it before and after the merger -- this will help to better set these expectations for you and your team.

4. Sources May Change for Your Tracking Studies

For companies with ongoing longitudinal surveys, consistency in sample is extremely important. The possibility that sources may change for sample in your study can be disruptive to your results. Sourcing partnerships might be the first to dissolve when a merger occurs.  The newly formed entity will often evaluate existing recruitment spending and find ways to save, potentially changing sample allocations in the process. This can result in dramatic shifts in the procurement and balance of outbound sample which can lead to subsequent shifts in your survey data.  Remember to be proactive in communicating your needs to help mitigate disruption to the longitudinal trends you and your clients rely on. That means:

  • Know Your Source– If you haven’t already, discuss how sample is tested, recruited, and managed by your current provider. Ask again after the merger is finalized to understand the methods being used. You should also get a good sense of the visibility they offer in procurement methods.
  • Know Your Composition– What does your provider do to balance demographics and firmographics (if B2B)? Recruitment channels can vary dramatically and impact your data in many ways – how do they control for these attitudinal and behavioral differences?
  • Know Your Frame– From both before and after a merger, how is your sample frame generated and balanced? Be sure to understand the variables that are being used as well.
  • Know Your Methods and Procedures– What is used for each wave of the study to generate stability (timing of outbound sample sends, exclusions, and reminders)?

If any of the above details are in flux, choosing a different partner for future research may be the best option for ongoing stability. Parallel testing may offer the best opportunity to ensure your sample is replicable to prior waves. Ask the new sample provider to offer this solution for better peace of mind. The goal here is to be as proactive as possible to mitigate the artificial shifts in data that happen when two large providers merge and you are forced to look elsewhere.

Independent Ownership in a Constantly Shifting Industry

Innovate is proud to be independently owned, unbeholden to outside interests that may look to the bottom line before the clients we serve and the panels we’ve built. We’re proud of that independence and it allows us to do things that many other companies cannot. We can innovate and try new things that will move the industry forward. We can remain focused as much as possible on the relationships we’ve built and continue to build in the future.

Independence delivers a certain peace of mind when the industry goes through mergers or corporate shifts in policy or direction.

Need help navigating the waters when there is a merger among your vendors?  Contact Innovate today for a consultative approach unlike any other in the industry. Reach us at sales@innovatemr.com.