Keyboard showing someone pressing 'hybrid working' key

FEATURE19 December 2022

2022 review: Trends of the year – crisis mode, hybrid working and the metaverse

Cost of Living Features Inclusion Technology Trends UK

To kick off Research Live’s end-of-year review series, we asked a cross-section of the market research industry: what was the standout trend of 2022?

A sense of permanent crisis, establishing hybrid working models and a shift in thinking about the metaverse emerged as some of the standout trends for our contributors.

Kelly Beaver, chief executive UK and Ireland, Ipsos
Sadly, the standout trend for 2022 and one that looks set to continue is that we are existing in a state of polycrisis – no sooner did we emerge from Covid than we are faced with war, rising inflation, an economy heading into recession, the challenges of climate change and reaching net zero and rising levels of poverty and inequality. The challenge for businesses, public services and whoever leads the government in the UK over 2023 will be to engender a sense of hope and optimism with a sense of purpose and plan of direction.

Nick Baker, chief research officer, Savanta
The rise and new world of hybrid working. How do you do something that never really existed on a mass scale before? What are the great bits and the watch outs? How does it impact different people in completely divergent ways? What does it mean for teams and culture? The thing that is totally clear is no-one has it right yet and we all need to evolve, listen to people we work with and adapt as we do so!

Shazia Ginai, chief growth officer, Catalyx
The research industry is finally playing catch up on accepting that the metaverse is something we should care about. There has been a significant shift in thinking by marketers around how the metaverse can be leveraged for driving brand communications. Researchers are now also talking about how we can adapt our work to deliver insights relevant to this new world.

Crawford Hollingworth, founder, The Behavioural Architects
The new narrative around globalisation must be top of the list, with the sudden salience of its domino natured fragility as we have witnessed how one country’s criminal war against another can so quickly throw the whole world into a major food and energy crisis. That and a scary new narrative about the ‘benefits’ of autocracy [local protectionism] vs democracy currently taking centre geo-political stage thanks to China.

It also says something that ‘goblin mode’ has been included in the next OUP dictionary. It’s definitely yet another result of lockdown life. The Guardian describes it ‘like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack,’ and notes that the term ‘embraces the comforts of depravity’. Whilst in the slang dictionary it’s defined as ‘a way of behaving that intentionally and shamelessly gives in to and indulges base habits and activities without regard to adhering to social norms or expectations’. Yikes! Is it here to stay?

The past 12 months have also seen a reshaping of budgets and society affected by the cost-of-living crisis, with many implications for research practitioners, while brands’ inclusion efforts also came to fruition.

Amy Cashman, executive managing director of the UK insights division, Kantar
2022 has been the year of businesses rescoping work and reshaping budgets and priorities as they, like consumers, grapple with the new economic reality. Helping clients understand how inflation is changing consumer behaviour and how to maximise marketing effectiveness within restrained budgets has been a major focus for us. Clients know there are commercial opportunities out there but marketing teams are under pressure to do more with less. It’s about being smarter with investment and making sure that decisions are grounded in a solid understanding of how consumers’ habits, attitudes and behaviour are evolving.

Ben Shimshon, co-founder and managing partner, BritainThinks
The newly insecure – those groups in society who have always more or less scraped by and are facing genuine economic insecurity for the first time in their adult lives. Getting a proper understanding of how these groups feel, and how they are responding to the cost-of-living crisis will be essential for retaining their custom, securing their loyalty, and getting the products, services and prices they rely on right in the coming year.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
The cost-of-living crisis, heating or eating, the price of butter…

James Endersby, chief executive, Opinium
Broadcasters have embraced diversity and inclusion with much more diversity for example on panel shows/sports commentators/pundits. Brands have shifted their advertising to be much more inclusive. Some will say things haven’t moved enough, but things are changing, which has to be good. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future in terms of what brands offer. Advertising and communications may have changed, but will brands start to change what they provide the consumer? Across many categories such as financial services and health & beauty products there are discrepancies in what products and services are on offer to minority groups, will brands change to make more specialised products more widely available to truly become more inclusive?

There has also been the trend of pretty much everything going back to the way it was before the pandemic. Despite the much-hyped shift changes and the dreaded ‘new normal’, apart from a few notable exceptions (e.g. working from home for office workers), we’re back on the same path we were on in 2019.