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FEATURE4 January 2019

Preview 2019: Brexit

Brexit Europe Features Public Sector UK

With the UK scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March and continued uncertainty around the circumstances of the departure, we spoke to a cross-section of market researchers to ask how the industry can best prepare for Brexit.

Andy Brown, chief executive, Kantar Media
One of the things the market research industry is renowned for is reducing risk around investment in marketing – so surely this is just an opportunity for more market research to be commissioned!

Ben Hogg, managing director EMEA and APAC, Lucid
Stockpile sample. Call me. In all seriousness, our priority at the moment is to make sure that our non-UK employees have all of the information that they need in order to be reassured. As hideous as all this continues to be for those of us that are from this peculiar island, imagine the fears of EU citizens that have made their homes here in recent years. Also, it doesn’t hurt to check whether any of our grandparents are Irish.

Adele Gritten, managing director, Future Thinking
Keep calm and carry on. Don’t get distracted, don’t get fobbed off by clients who cite their lack or decline in spend being due to Brexit. Instead, let’s use Brexit as a businesses and industry opportunity rather than a threat. We’re also focussing much more on global markets, not just UK or EU and undertaking multi-country, multi-stakeholder engagements.

Tom Ewing, head of communications and market intelligence, System1
In all honesty, we can’t. No one in the country can. Not until we truly know what is happening with the Deal or No Deal. We just have to be able adapt and react quickly. Obviously, this isn’t ideal especially when you have international clients, but what can we do.

Andrew O’Connell, managing director UK, Research Now SSI
We run many trackers in the UK and so far most are being renewed, which is good news.  Amid the economic uncertainty, it seems clients continue to value having year on year comparable data to benchmark the performance of their brands. That said, in an age of zero-based budgeting, clients will have to justify the value of an ad hoc research project more and more, so demonstrating ROI is the best way to do this.

Jane Rudling, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
Uncertainty is a key word here. Stay tuned as we are in the process of speaking to several of our key clients around how Brexit is affecting their businesses and their research plans and are planning to share a report on it. There’s a real willingness to talk and share which emphasises we are all feeling a little lost and nervous around the impact of this.

Peter Totman, head of qualitative, Jigsaw
Whatever else Brexit is, it is an opportunity for the research industry to show our unique analytical and explanatory skills... we can heal this divided country no less! But first we need to acknowledge that, as a profession and a group of people, we are part of the liberal establishment – and we all need to question any assumptions that this position brings... only then can we can play the role history has in mind for us.

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director and founder, Trinity McQueen
Building a complementary skill-set to incorporate the wider needs of our clients… UX, service design, copywriting, creative design, semiotics.

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori
Keep calm and be prepared for turbulence, make sure our EU staff are supported.

Greg Clayton, managing director, Kadence International
With uncertainty reigning (at the time of writing!), it would be natural to expect British firms to be reducing investment commitment in Q1 until some form of certainly arrives. We’re optimistic that whatever downturn there may be amongst our UK clients in the first few months of the year will be more than compensated for by our overseas clients.

Ray Poynter, chief executive, The Future Place
By focusing on delivering value in terms of market research – anything else is a distraction.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
Impossible to say… opening offices on the European continent as contingency, keeping a flexible outlook. If you’re a European national heading up a UK agency, get a British passport. Keep calm and carry on?!

Steve Phillips, chief executive, ZappiStore
Ignore it and plough on. Lay out your key plans and stick to them. Our industry doesn't manoeuvre product – only data – so we're likely to come out the other end unscathed.

This article is published as part of a series reviewing 2018 and looking at the year ahead.

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