Covid-19 vaccine

FEATURE4 January 2022

Preview 2022: The Covid-19 recovery

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How can insights professionals help the sector recover from the onslaught of the pandemic? Here, a selection of practitioners provide suggestions – from helping brands develop a better sense of objectivity to remembering the importance of constantly challenging ourselves.

Kelly Beaver, chief executive, UK & Ireland, Ipsos
The socio-economic-political climate will continue to be uncertain in 2022 and, as such, the research industry has an enhanced role of being data integrators and advisers, bringing a range of evidence/data sources to support clients in real time. It is an exciting time for those working in the industry.

Lisa Wilding-Brown, chief executive, InnovateMR
This past year showed us that as an industry we are adaptable – and that means businesses are thriving. We saw none of the slowdown we were so worried about, but rather needed to position ourselves for a substantial ramp-up instead. This new-found professional empathy has encouraged us to continue putting clients at the heart of business and lead with compassion, which is going to be the fuel that drives the industry forward.

We will empower brands to eliminate blind spots, craft authentic and intelligent messaging and convert their campaigns into actionable change. Measuring and understanding the consumer of today helps to increase growth, mitigate risk, remain relevant, and maintain a competitive edge. We have the power to do that, which will continue to be an incredibly important responsibility.

Crawford Hollingworth, global founder, The Behavioural Architects
There is huge pent-up consumer and business energy waiting to spring out of the proverbial ashes and our industry is perfectly positioned to be both guide and visionary to our clients. The future’s definitely bright.

Ryan Howard, marketing science consultant
Research can be a box-ticking formality to conform to preconceptions. We’re asked to learn something new, but not too new. At worst, we’ll evaluate alternative blueprints for a product that left the factory floor mid-fieldwork.

Instead, in this lingering uncertainty, we’ve been asked to cast our nets wider, with licence to push the reset button, if needs must. Our role is to understand the changing rules of the game; we’re the insurance against outdated intuition.

Ben Shimshon, co-founder and managing partner, BritainThinks
Our industry will need to focus on bringing the emerging post-Covid customer/consumer firmly into organisational decision-making.

Frederic Charles-Petit, chief executive, Toluna
The market research industry can really help brands to develop a better sense of objectivity when it comes to people’s sentiment and their opinions. Insights offer reliable information that facilitate and support decision making from brands. Creating informed, customer-led strategies will be vital to 2022 recovery. We are the antithesis of fake news.

Stephan Shakespeare, chief executive and co-founder of YouGov
I think the industry has played, is playing and will keep playing, an important role in understanding the pandemic. Having good behavioural and opinion data is vital when it comes to decision-making in times such a this – whether that is governments, public health officials or brands.

As we emerge from Covid-19 this will continue to be incredibly important. As we have seen, things move quickly and it’s only by using up-to-the-minute data that provides insight into what people believe right now, rather than what they thought a month or two ago, will organisations be able to make smart decisions.

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS
In the past two years our sector has quite rightly risen to the fore. The challenge we now face is to build on what we’ve delivered to date, so that research secures a permanent and active seat at the boardroom table. To do that we need to constantly challenge ourselves, learn from each other and celebrate the people who are succeeding in research.

Collaboration will be key – whether it’s Covid-19, inclusion and diversity or the climate crisis, we can’t solve any of these problems on our own. As clichéd as it may be, I mean it when I say that we do need to work together to make real progress on these critical, global issues.

Graham Idehen, director of customer success for EMEA, Lucid
If we start with our learnings from the last two years, the road to recovery becomes much clearer. The biggest takeaway is that each and every one of us has a different outlook. This has impacted almost every aspect of our personal and working life and ultimately means that businesses, brands, and marketers can no longer rely on traditional means of reaching and engaging with consumer audiences.

Never before has understanding the consumer been more important. The ability to make data-driven decisions based on real people is incredibly powerful. And this presents an enormous opportunity for our industry to become the lynchpin for recovery. By peeling back the layers to understand the sentiments of real people, we can get under the skin of what is important to them – their values and opinions, behaviours and purchase patterns – and this will be a key driver for success.

Ryan Barry, president, Zappi
Covid-19 has already been with us for two years and I believe it’s going to be around for quite a while longer. Throughout this time, consumer needs, opinions and expectations are changing all the time. These changes affect the way consumers shop and engage with brands.

It’s hard for brands to stay on top of these changes unless they understand consumers. Insights has a critical role to play in helping brands create the products, ads, experiences and so on that actually resonate with consumers during this time, rather than fall flat.

Jane Rudling, managing director of Insight and Analytics, Unlimited
Insight will be needed more than ever to help brands connect with their consumers in the coming year. Lives have changed fundamentally, and successful brands will want to understand and be closer to people by making their lives easier.

It is time for brands to tackle important issues that may have been far from their remit pre-pandemic, but now should be embedded in their brand strategy, just like D&I and sustainability have been. They have a massive role to play, so understanding the how and where aspect will be crucial.

Barrie Brien, chief executive, STRAT7
At Strat7, we say data is common, but knowledge is rare. It’s our job to help businesses combine, enrich and interpret that data in ways that can help create real customer engagement and meaningful growth. It’s totally within our remit to turn market and customer data into real world data that drives competitive advantage, builds new revenue streams, increases customer value and accelerates growth as businesses grapple with the new world order.