I have lost count of the times I have heard sophisticated researchers saying that they are doing leading edge work for their client but the client won’t pay a premium. It’s quite simple if you don’t a get a premium you have not convinced your client that what you are delivering is something special.
Not everyone will like me saying this but researchers do themselves no favors by charging clients for the time a project takes them not by the value of the insights generated. In general, if you’ve got the right people on it, cutting edge stuff doesn’t take more time than the most vanilla research but it’s often worth twice as much in terms of impact on the client’s bottom line. Clients charge much more than production costs for their premium brands, in which they have similarly invested. Commercially, this offsets the low margins on the commodity brands so there’s no reason for resarch agencies not to do the same.
You should be happy to charge by value and not cost if it’s worth it to the buyer. That’s business; you need to take the big gains when you can and not be consumed by some unjustified ‘guilt’ when you raise the price. As competition makes sure these premiums only last a short time, there is the pressure to constantly improve and invest to ensure the price advantage is maintained. So, overall everyone wins, as better (and usually more interesting) services are constantly brought to market.