FEATURE11 January 2023

Creativity doesn't have to come at a price

Features Insight Alchemy

Research Live talks with Quadrangle’s chairman, Alison Camps, about the session she will be chairing in March at Insight Alchemy 2023, the MRS Annual Conference.

The Insight Alchemist – like their historic namesake – is compelled to explore. Applying only ‘safe’ methods and accepting conventional wisdom won’t cut it, especially in testing times. If you want practical ideas on building innovation, enthusiasm and creative risks into your work, Insight Alchemy 2023 will be the place to be.

We set Quadrangle chairman Alison Camps a challenge: craft a session at Insight Alchemy 2023 that will explore the way research professionals can add real value to client work, while at the same time demonstrating rigour, professionalism and respect for the discipline.

Her response was typically robust: her panel won’t be slogging through a debate on the need to communicate the strengths and weaknesses of different data sources. “Instead we will discuss how we need to cast off conformity and instead be wide open to new possibilities, meeting every situation with youthful enthusiasm, innovation, and taking creative risks to stay relevant whilst remembering that you can’t just ‘magic up’ insight,” she says.

The debate will focus on pitching that out-of-the-box creative thinking in ways that will help delegates solve two problems: delivering against budgetary caution (in both public and private sector); and maintaining methodological discipline beneath the creative approach. In short, if you want to enthuse your team and come away with direct advice on pitching more engaging projects – Alison’s session is a must-attend.

We asked Alison to complete our chair’s Q&A to get a little deeper into what we can expect from this session on 14 March.

Research Live: What aspect of the research industry right now excites you?

Alison Camps: I’m excited to see the sector getting its mojo back. I like to hear my fellow agency owners talking confidently about their businesses. I like to see the swagger. Success breeds success, and it’s in all of our interests for good research businesses to do well.

Give us one prediction for the start of 2023 and into 2024?

We’ve suffered years of people telling us that the research industry is on its last legs. Big Data, AI, ‘the one number you need to know’, ‘self-serve platforms’… and yet we’re still standing. There’s no substitute for real, proper conversations; in life and in business. Especially in recessionary times. So, I don’t think we are done yet – far from it. I look forward to 2023 being the year when the research sector fights back and we can really demonstrate our worth and significance as a sector.

What was the most compelling impact you’ve seen from research during 2022?

It’s not really one thing, but it’s been fascinating to see how the pandemic, and specifically the changes it has catalysed in the way we work, has created new opportunities and the space to think differently about shopping ‘missions’, proposition design and end-to-end journeys. Research has a huge role to play in helping brands understand and exploit the potential that this cultural shift brings with it.

In uncertain times, what piece of advice would you offer younger research professionals?

When clients need to justify every penny they spend on research, the stakes are super high and, naturally, everyone is focused on making a big impact. But I have never forgotten that my career was built on a foundation of first mastering the basics – project management, client communications, attention to detail. Time spent on these things is never wasted; it builds trust and creates space for you to blow your client away with great thinking and insight, because they are primed to listen to you.

Find out more about Insight Alchemy 2023 - programme and headline speakers