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FEATURE23 December 2016

2016 Review: the market research champions

Behavioural science Features Trends UK

Our panel of research leaders offer their thoughts on which companies and indviduals – both inside and outside the industry – have advanced the cause in 2016, and what work still needs to be done.

"Nate Silver. He is very vocal in reminding us all that numbers don’t simply speak for themselves, and interpreting them still leaves room for human fallibility (and even bias). And building models that reflect uncertainty isn’t a crime; those models merely reflect reality." Jane Bloomfield, head of UK marketing, Kantar Millward Brown.

"Peter York continues to pop up in writing and on TV, and he’s always a welcome figure. His recent stuff about authenticity and Shoreditch has been great. He champions enquiry (as opposed to ‘research projects’) in a way that I think is both old-fashioned and completely modern (and quite scarce)." Matt Lynch, chief strategy officer, Big Sofa. 

"Jane Frost and Finn Raben – the MRS and Esomar keep making a great case for market research," Ray Poynter, managing director, The Future Place. 

"Jane Frost. She has worked tirelessly for the industry and is an authoritative voice in the media at large." Kirsty Fuller, co-founder and CEO, Flamingo Group. 

"Stan Sthanunathan at Unilever. He pushes us all to innovate and evolve – and to aim high. His Harvard Business Review article, Building an Insights Engine, is a must read." Will Galgey, UK CEO, Kantar TNS.

"Wendy Gordon proving herself the ultimate  bricoleur (of theory as well as just methodology)  by writing Mindframes. A little too BE heavy for my tastes but far better than anyone else could even get close to." Peter Totman, qualitative director, Jigsaw Research.

"I have a real soft spot for BrainJuicer. There is often a great deal of angst in the industry about market research and there can be quite a lot of introspection and naval gazing. BrainJuicer has ‘swagger’ and I like the way it positions itself and gets recognition for being really innovative." Julian Highley, global director of customer knowledge, dunnhumby.

...must try harder

"The entire industry needs to do more to champion market research. The public sees polling and research as one and the same so as researchers we must work to highlight the differences between the two, especially when incorrect opinion polls are so prominent in the media." Crispin Beale, CEO, Chime Insight & Engagement Group.

"Honestly no one – I feel that the industry has allowed itself to be defined by its public shop window of (quantitative) political polling – and done too little to showcase other aspects (especially small data)." Deborah Mattinson, founder director, Britain Thinks.