FEATURE7 July 2023

Fergus Navaratnam-Blair – research hero

Features People Research Heroes 2023

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Fergus Navaratnam-Blair has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2023.


Fergus Navaratnam-Blair, Research Director, National Research Group (NRG)

As research director for NRG’s global marketing team, Fergus manages a portfolio of thought leadership projects at the intersection of culture, media, and technology. His focus is on bringing data to life for clients and the media through a wide variety of storytelling formats, including white papers, blogs, podcasts, op-eds, and more.

Fergus was nominated because "he’s not only supported growth for several focus areas at NRG, but he’s also helped move the needle on important conversations with the right people to make a real difference...with a particular interest in using data and insights to address structural inequalities in the media and entertainment industry..."

What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was making the transition from client-facing research to focusing on thought leadership for public release.

There’s been a renewed focus within the industry over the past few years on the value of high-quality thought leadership — but getting that sort of content right can require a lot of trial and error. There’s a constant tightrope you have to walk between what’s going to resonate with the public and what clients are going to care about, and a whole new set of skills you need to learn around packaging up insights in a way that’s going to both accessible but also informative.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?

The ongoing AI boom is going to make it easier than ever before for clients to bring basic research and insights functions in-house. So, to maintain a niche for themselves, agencies are going to have to focus on delivering something that goes above and beyond what clients’ internal insights teams can achieve. That means there’s going to be more investment in proprietary models, frameworks, and technology tools, and an increased emphasis on helping analysts to develop higher-level creative and strategic capabilities alongside their core research skills.

Who inspires you as a researcher?

A lot of our work at NRG is in the media and entertainment sector—so, for me, a major source of inspiration is the creatives who use that research to help them tell engaging and compelling stories.

Recently, for example, we ran a project on deaf representation in media, which gave us the chance to work with some phenomenally talented deaf writers, directors, actors, and comedians. It’s really thrilling to know that the work we do in the research space can help to create new opportunities for those creatives — and can have a direct impact on the films and TV shows that end up making it to screens.

View the full list of Research Heroes 2023