Crystal ball future_crop

FEATURE2 January 2018

Preview 2018: trends predictions

AI Behavioural economics Data analytics Features GDPR Trends UK

The theme for 2018 biggest trends remains data-driven, but it’s not so much about the big but rather the exchange and democratisation of personal data.


Pippa Bailey, senior director, Ipsos Mori
The rise of the data economy. With changes to open-banking being just the starting point, people will become ever more aware of the value of their data. This has broad implications for many industries but specifically for research, including how we reward and incentivise people for taking part in research or allowing us to access their data.

Caroline Frankum, global CEO, Lightspeed
GDPR compliance. GDPR is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. So, while harmonising data privacy laws across Europe and protecting EU citizens from privacy and data breeches is absolutely the way to go, ensuring consent for more anonymous data assets like cookies and device is critical, but much more complicated and granular than the more traditional and lower-risk PII data (like email addresses and phone numbers).

Joe Staton, strategic innovation director, GfK
Information Exchange. The value consumers put on their personal data, and their willingness to share and exchange it for benefits will go mainstream in 2018. Open Banking will see us handing over confidential information to get personalised, tailored recommendations through APIs that share our details securely to show where we can get better deals on current accounts and business loans.

Harley Titchener, head of research, dunnhumby
Increasing personalisation of media and services as well as the continued rise of the connected/’always on’ consumer. The arrival of GDPR will signify a democratising of personal data, enabling consumers to ‘port’ their data to other companies for new services. There is huge potential for new data-driven business models for companies that offer the right value-exchange to consumers willing to share their personal data.


Dave Bostock, head of digital, Simpson Carpenter
A move to ‘big qual’ – qualitative research depth at quantitative research scale – with machine learning/AI tools that remove the last barrier to this type of work (analysis on information on this scale). This will help the researcher deliver not only the what OR the why, but both in one project.

Andy Brown, CEO, Kantar Media
Artificial intelligence and machine learning being intelligently applied more widely – including within market and media research. Market research is largely based on probabilities; machines can be trained to see patterns and recognise and organise data much more reliably than humans. While I wouldn’t ever advocate more black box methodologies, there is a role for AI to contribute to efficiencies in data processing and operations, as well as client facing benefits. One thing I certainly expect to see over the next year is more forward-looking or predictive data.

Will Ullstein, commercial director, YouGov
Technology and its deployment –his will come in the shape of artificial intelligence for analysing big data sets, and use of chat bots for data collection and perhaps even delivery. In the consumer world, keep a watch on voice playing an increasing part of how consumers interact with media and brands, and the development of block-chain technology.

Matt Lynch, founding partner and chief strategy officer, Big Sofa
Demand for AI-led solutions as consumers and brands embrace technology. More agency-client-tech partnerships and experiments. More of the ‘kiss and punch’ stuff as major tech companies muscle in properly on retail.

Susan Vidler, head of research, Harris Interactive
The continued growth in technology and automation to support research consultancy and ultimately informed decision making. AI has been a hot topic for a multitude of industries in 2017 and its potential ability to inform research techniques is very exciting.

a few others

Jane Bloomfield, head of sales and marketing, Millward Brown
Voice activation and IoT. We need to understand what it means for brands. How will it influence brand choice? Will the choice of brand be automatic, or will the device learn what we like – and what impact will this have? How can brands persuade consumers to switch and trial?

Crawford Hollingworth, global founder, The Behavioural Architects
2018 will see a backlash against the social media giants as their algorithms become more sophisticated and their influence more powerful. If Facebook’s founding president can say “it’s a social-validation feedback loop…exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology”, and describe the ‘like’ button as giving users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content, then some wing clipping is surely inevitable.

Christian Dubreuil, managing director Northern Europe, Research Now
Research we did among clients identified data visualisation/dashboarding, social media and behavioural economics as the top disruptors. Data visualisation has come a long way and it’s a trend that researchers clearly feel isn’t slowing down – as data becomes more important, how do we optimise data engagement?

Peter Totman, head of qualitative, Jigsaw
Alas more social media campaigning in the style of ‘Don’t Fund Hate’, more brands backing down like Paperchase as new Left radicalism coincides with increasing CSR sensitivity.

Zlatko Vucetic, president and COO, FocusVision
Voice to text analytics is on the cusp of creating massive impact in market research. As the technology improves its potential is wide ranging and could even spell a resurgence of techniques such as CATI.

Crispin Beale, chief executive, Chime Insight & Engagement Group
The focus on providing quality work for a cheaper price will be the biggest trend for next year. This will not only lead to further automation and a larger focus on delivering actionable insight, but could also result in the consolidation of smaller agencies.

Research informed by biometrics is also set to be huge. It will provide researchers with a means of understanding respondents’ cognitive and emotional responses, and ultimately gain significantly more accurate insight into a consumer’s thought processes, without the risk of external factors impacting the feedback they receive.