FEATURE29 December 2022

2023 preview: Challenges ahead

Cost of Living News Sustainability Wellbeing

The cost-of-living crisis dominates the challenges ahead for 2023 according to our contributors, as well as the environment and survey fraud.

For many, the cost-of-living crisis loomed large:

Amy Cashman, executive managing director of the UK insights division, Kantar
Undoubtedly the biggest challenge for our industry heading into the new year will be ensuring insights is not a disposable part of a company’s investment with budgets tightening.

As businesses continue to review outgoings and look for areas to shave costs, reinforcing the value of insights as a force for growth and a way to stay ahead of the competition will be crucial. We have never needed to understand the world more and how people respond to it than now.

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS
Undoubtedly the cost-of-living crisis. It’s very easy to think only one step ahead in times of economic difficulty, but my first chairman always said that you had to invest into recessions and I stand by that.

Nothing should be simply transactional right now and we should still be thinking longer term, continuing to encourage new talent into the sector from a range of backgrounds and developing our professional relationships. I’m confident if we hold our nerve, we’ll come out the stronger for it.

Kelly Beaver, chief executive UK and Ireland, Ipsos
Continuing to navigate an uncertain geo-political and economic context. It will be critical to support and guide our employees through another uncertain time, especially as three in 10 of today’s workforce have not experienced working through a recessionary period before. As leaders we need to jointly bring hope and strategies to navigate through the complexity.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
Clearly the cost-of-living crisis. I so hope that this time (for once) corporates will realise that it’s not the right time to slash research and marketing budgets.

Ryan Barry, president, Zappi
The biggest challenge facing our industry is how we weather the storm of the macroeconomic climate. We know that research budgets are not immune to cuts during lean times. During these times, small decisions have big implications. Do we freeze hiring? Will we focus on the wrong things? 

The answer here is simple: focus on providing customers with best-in-class service and help them to solve their foundational business challenges. As long as businesses stick to this practice,  success will be predicated on how well we as an industry advance the agenda of our customers – through service, technology and innovation. 

Stephan Shakespeare, CEO and co-founder, YouGov
We are largely through the worst of the pandemic in our key markets, but we are now contending with its economic fall-out. Most companies and sectors are currently facing strong headwinds and the data and analytics industry is no exception. Inflation – both in wages and the economy overall – and its consequences inevitably affect clients and their budgets.

James Endersby, chief executive, Opinium
The economic situation will be the largest challenge, but that will depend on where you are. China may see a boom as it begins to ease away from its zero-Covid policy, Europe will likely struggle against the energy crisis-led recession and the US may just get away relatively unscathed.

Others noted a range of other challenges, from the environment to survey fraud:

Nick Baker, chief research officer, Savanta
Pandemic, recession, cost-of-living crisis? While challenges for us, they are all also factors that make our greatest challenge even more difficult. Sustainability and the climate agenda are the greatest challenge for all of us, our businesses, children and clients. This is a climate emergency, and all our other significant obstacles just make addressing this even more difficult.

Ben Shimshon, co-founder and managing partner, BritainThinks
Being willing to be brave and take risks in a really uncertain environment.

Crawford Hollingworth, founder, The Behavioural Architects
What is clear from last year is that we all need to change, to find inspiration and to be a little braver and travel further out of our comfort zones. Speaking out and embracing feeling a little more uncomfortable in 2023 will be good for us. 

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
Attracting and retaining new talent across all disciplines and right across the board.

Ray Poynter, chief research officer, Potentiate
The dual challenges of fraud in online panel and the implications for all the DIY platforms that leverage online samples without the ability to question the sample quality.

Ryan Howard, marketing science consultant
Elon Musk isn’t the only one with a problem with artificially intelligent bots. Fraud is leaning into the jugular of this industry and make no mistake, quality is suffering. Usable data is increasingly time consuming to produce. Feel free to pretend otherwise.

A coordinated and deliberate remedy is counterproductive because fraudsters adapt – and if you’re quietly confident that Captcha will gatekeep surveys, know that bots have been crashing through them for years. If big tech doesn’t gift a new trick soon, the only future is to all defend differently, keep swapping tactics and cross our fingers.

Shazia Ginai, chief growth officer, Catalyx
The industry (specifically agency side) needs to step outside of its comfort zone. Our industry is valuable, but our approach can sometimes be a bit stale. Clients don’t just want data, they want strategic partners.

Frederic Charles-Petit, chief executive, Toluna
Like many industries, it is having to constantly adapt to an ever-changing reality and, in turn, consumers.