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So when I started Data Minders Business Research, my main concern was this recession. I t was announced about three years ago that the economy experienced negative growth, and in 2016 it was predicted that the recession may

not end till 2018. Every news article and television report points to lost jobs, reduced purchasing power and rising prices. All of these factors, in theory, lead to reduced demand. So as a business owner, one may worry about how it will affect their sales. Many coaches have prompted that a recession is irrelevant to your business operations, as with positive thinking all things are possible. This is true, but we’ve got to be realistic with the changing markets. While pushing your mind’s beliefs beyond the limits there are many steps that can be taken to recession proof your business. Some bloggers have listed very useful measures such as investment projects and partnering with employees. Another probable action may be the continuous store sales or offered discounts that erode profits into the break-even zone. I have observed, however, few persons discussing how important research can be in making your business unsinkable. This article seeks to fill in the blanks in this topic.

So let’s begin with the go-to action by businesses: discounts and sales. In the midst of seeing fewer and fewer customers walking through store doors and reduced profitability, firms may be tempted to do anything to lure patrons back. But do you know, even in recession times, if lower prices are what clients need? Quality, despite price, may be the core objective on buyers, so use research to find out what is more important; quality or price. In fact, your customers should be thoroughly studied in trying economic times. Specifically, businesses should discover if your customer segments have changed. Psychological segments may be more important than demographic, income or lifestyle factors. So the buying habits of, let’s say a person who despite their socio-economic position, feel confident and safe financially in the recession may continue to buy a service or good no matter the type of good. Other buyers, who are anxious in economic hardships such a recession, may choose, depending on the type of good offered, to purchase less. So a luxury like new rims for a vehicle may be seen as postponable, though the current car rims are worn away. Use research to also recognize if your ideal client has changed. Before the recession, for example, you may have targeted those who do struggle but still search for treats. While your good may be a treat for these people, in a recession, these same individuals become more cautious, and though optimistic, still have limited confidence. Even though it may be intimidating, wealthier persons or the eclectic who live for today and experience life to the fullest may be your new target markets. The marketing techniques used for these new segments may not be the same as your previous customers, so use research to figure out how your business can interest them.

So let us use a much localized example to Trinidad and Tobago. On January 10th 2016, the Guardian Newspaper reported that large fetes and all-inclusives have been seeing a reduced patronage over the years, resulting in debt or income loss by promoters. Interestingly, I have noticed that there has been an upsurge in small parties with great popularity. Boat rides and small fetes are well attended. Maybe, with the rise in recession, persons, though while still willing to have a good time, cannot afford the high-end/high-cost events. Bringing your cooler filled with drinks is easier than buying a Stag at increased prices in the Stadium. No matter the picture of the event, research could have been used to discover what types of environments are suitable to most party goers. For those who do attend expensive events, what is their demographic profile and what would it take to lure them to multiple parties, instead of only selecting one. Research can answer these questions.

We as citizens usually hear, “The economy is in a state, it is bad!”. Exactly “How bad is it?” though. Operating on the naysay and hearsay is not enough. Use desk research to gain an understanding of what the inflation rate is, on our success in surviving recessions, and what government policies may mean for the longevity of your business. Don’t disregard this step. Your environment, though I do not believe can control your business, if controlled and adjusted for, can increase your profitability.

Let’s talk about your workers. For some, a regular contributory factor to day to day business is labour. While one may see labour as “the help”, in economically restricted times workers are actually useful assets. Use in-depth questioning to assess where your workers think your company can cut costs or improve your product to be more attractive to the market. Even though they work for you, they are on the frontline and hear most of the complaints that your customers make. Use these assets with care as they may help you survive the recession.

Research the type of recession, because each type may mean a different strategy. An inflationary recession may turn low margin products into questionable goods. Research how long the recession is expected to last and plan according. Research what governments, banks and other units that are important to your operations will do to adjust.

There are many other areas in which you can use research to protect your business. What can areas of research can you think of?

Rambally, Krystal. 2016 “Recession Hits Fetes Hard”. Trinidad Guardian, January 10, 2016. Accessed September 30th 2017.