Image of a road with markings for the years ahead fron 2021 onwards

FEATURE30 December 2021

Preview 2022: Reasons for optimism

Asia Pacific Europe Features Latin America Middle East and Africa North America Trends UK

From data becoming more democratic to the insight sector finally taking its seat alongside executive teams, a cross-section of the industry shares what they are most excited about for the year ahead and their reasons for optimism.

Caroline Frankum, global chief executive, profiles division, Kantar 
I am really excited about the instrumental role that panellists will play in being a trusted source for quality, first-party data that will drive our industry’s growth this year. Since panellists are clients’ real-life customers, they provide a direct connection to real-world trends and representative insights; they have, therefore, become increasingly relied upon over the past 18 months as third-party cookies have become obsolete.

However, everyone’s digital expectations have heightened as Covid has forced us into a more digital world – and panellists are no exception. Ensuring we provide more engaging experiences that truly warrant a share of their precious time and data will be a critical consideration for all agencies and clients.

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director, Trinity McQueen 
Sometimes you need to be jolted by external events in order to re-evaluate. Lots of positive changes came out of the challenges of 2021 and I’d expect these to push on in 2022: different ways of working, helping each other, greater give and take. I think market research has shown it can step up to the table as a trusted partner and advisor – it’s about time that happened.

Ryan Howard, marketing science consultant 
When our ‘cookieless future’ was postponed last June, it robbed us of a windfall, as digital marketers scrambled. It was, however, a blessing in disguise as we did near nothing to position or prepare. Now that the initiative has been handed back, the chunky two-year delay incentivises us to act.

We may look to plug into first-party data assets or, better yet, rally around an ecosystem of piecemeal alternatives. If Google’s federated learning initiative has indeed stalled under the weight of GDPR, an even greater prize awaits.

Frederic Charles-Petit, chief executive, Toluna 
I’m most excited about the unstoppable trend of the democratisation of research. As we create superior ways to curate detailed and complex research on consumers, the industry must focus its efforts in this regard. When we say democratisation of research, we mean making detailed data available in a simplified manner and in a seamless way to any business or any brand. 2022 will be the year to truly drive this because the technology is there to enable it.

Stephan Shakespeare, chief executive and co-founder, YouGov 
We have invested well over the past couple of years so that we have an influx of both fresh thinking and innovative technology. This will ensure we remain at the forefront of data innovation – offering new propositions that widen the YouGov offer. The development of YouGov Finance and YouGov Stream mean we now have a front row seat to consumer spending and streaming behaviour using fully permissioned zero-party data. 

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS
I’m really pleased to see the Office for National Statistics recognising how important qualitative methodologies are. That they have recognised that quantitative data doesn’t provide all the answers and needs to be contextualised by “lived experience” should be a major opportunity for the sector.

Having said that, this presents a major challenge in terms of how to deliver a way of merging these two approaches into a recognisable single customer view. I am also feeling optimistic about apprenticeships; this is a major practical step forward in providing more scope for ethnic diversity and widening social inclusion.

Matilda Andersson, group managing director, Crowd DNA
There is so much exciting innovation in the unstructured data space, including AI and natural language processing, which can help us get faster and more accurate in our analysis and free up our time to work on strategy instead of data collection. 

Bob Qureshi, chief executive and managing partner, I-View
We have been simply amazed at the pace and volume of the return to in-person research at our viewing facilities in London and Leeds. At first, we thought it may have been some pent-up work that needed doing and only a few clients would participate, but it’s proved to be quite the opposite with plenty of clients wanting to come view, along with all the participants not only showing up, but arriving early.

Crawford Hollingworth, global founder, The Behavioural Architects
Right now, I’m sensing a pioneering, innovative buzz in our business and a new openness to explore, develop and experiment. 

Rebecca Cole, managing director, Cobalt Sky
There has been a huge amount of essential groundwork completed in 2021 in areas such as equality. I’m excited to see this work come to fruition in 2022 and start leading to real positive change. I’m confident that our industry is going to continue to be at the forefront of fighting for real improvements in the areas that matter to society, such as sustainability, inclusion and representation.

Barrie Brien, chief executive, STRAT7 
Insight is finally getting a seat at the top table as boards and CEOs put it at the heart of business strategy. Speedy decision-making comes from fast, accurate insight and it’s the strategy, planning and consultancy elements within our businesses that are working with the C-suite more than they’ve ever done.

We’re also seeing more businesses appointing board-level chief insight officers and chief customer officers for that very reason. It’s an overdue move that bodes very well for the future of the industry.