What price consultancy?

Date of publication: June 15, 1988

Author: Michael Wilsdon


This paper is written from the viewpoint of a London-based market research agency which undertakes all types of international market research. The paper is primarily concerned with the opportunities that may exist for the researcher in the middle ground between ad hoc market research and management consultancy. In approaching that issue, the paper first examines the requirements for standardised research for single and multiple users, and discusses the preconditions for the successful development of multi-user research services. In that context, it considers the extent to which business to business research differs from research in consumer markets, and considers the outlook for standardised research. The second major area discussed is the impact of internationalisation overall, and in relation to the demand for standardised research. The conclusion is then drawn that the role of the ad hoc researcher is under threat, and that a positive effort at role enhancement is necessary and possible. However, this would require the research supplier to become more like a management consultant in many respects. The final part of the paper compares and contrasts the attributes, behaviour and financial rewards of researcher and consultant, and points to the increasing propensity of management consultants to use conventional market research as an input. The final conclusion is that there is scope for research-based consultancy services to be developed to a much greater extent than has generally been attempted so far, but that a descriptive label may be required that is less misused than 'consultant'.

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