FEATURE23 December 2014

2014 Review: Biggest success stories


Whatever your criteria for success, there have been some companies that will undoubtedly look back upon 2014 as a good year.


Many of our review panel picked out specific companies, either for their business success – through sales, new products or acquisitions – or their ability to disrupt a market.


“I think that the biggest success story of the year has been the purchase of Sapient Nitro by Publicis for $3.7bn. It’s a marker of confidence in the data economy.” Colin Strong, GfK.

“The $22bn acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook was just astounding; yes there are 600m users and clearly strong brand loyalty and so advertising dollars will flow. However, the Alstrom acquisition by GE was $5b less and this is a profitable and asset rich company. Are we seeing some dotcom craziness again?” Martin Filz, Lightspeed GMI.

Business disruptors

“Dropbox – doubled its user base to 220 million and fended off Google, Apple and Microsoft.” Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys.

“The rise of the ‘platform’ business. Businesses that create the means for consumers to interact and transact with one another, often creating new inventory, and threating long establish business models and companies. There are many examples but Airbnb and Uber coming of age have dominated the headlines. Contrary to what many experts counselled, these platforms have also created new types of consumer behaviour (or maybe revived much older ones).” Dan Hagen, Carat.

“Uber, despite recent problems, elevated the benchmark for what’s possible when you need a ride in the rain from New York to Cannes (both places where I have benefited from its service). Now we can expect more applications from this basic business model for other services we need on the spot – babysitters, plumbers? The potential is limitless.” Elissa Moses, Ipsos Neuro & Behavioural Science Centre.

Big names

“Apple and Tim Cook – sales going through the roof, more profit than ever, the company does better than ever than it’s done before – perhaps not as disruptive as Apple used to be, but more successful. And then unexpectedly, the CEO comes out of the closet at the same time; the most successful company and CEO of 2014.” Wander Meijer, MRops.

“The rise of Aldi has to be the biggest success. We carried out research into all the major supermarkets in May and this showed that Aldi came top when consumers were asked which supermarket they felt best represented an emotional trait. Tapping into the respondents’ subconscious, Aldi came top in eight out of the 20 terms asked; being seen as simple, honest, cheerful and relaxed; something that has absolutely been supported by its light-hearted ad campaign ‘Like Brands. Only Better’.” David Howlett, MMR.

One for the researchers

“I think 2014 saw Communities become very mainstream and that is great for the industry. As a methodology they enable very agile research to be conducted and that is helping client researchers to answer more business questions, more efficiently. We need to see these agile approaches expand so that research can genuinely answer business questions at business speed.” Stephen Phillips, Zappistore.

Tomorrow read about the biggest disappointments of 2014