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FEATURE27 December 2017

Review 2017: Success stories of the year

FMCG Features Healthcare Innovations Leisure & Arts Technology Trends

From the resurgence of Nintendo to the increase in mental health awareness, we asked our panel of industry leaders to share their views on the standout successes of 2017.

Resurgence and transformation

Hayley Ward, head of insight partnerships, M&S
What Dave Lewis has done at Tesco has been phenomenal – a brilliant case study of how re-focusing a business on the customer will deliver sales growth. It has had a huge amount of change, delivered a brilliant campaign (‘Food Love Stories’/’Everyone is welcome at Tesco’) and the store experience is much improved. 

Frédéric-Charles Petit, chief executive and founder, Toluna
One company that has had resurgence in 2017 is Nintendo. The brand has been revitalised on the back of the success that was Pokémon Go, re-emerging as a genuine competitor to Sony and Microsoft with the launch of the Nintendo Switch. By going back to the drawing boards and listening to what a new generation of consumers wanted, it has turned around its fortunes with the fastest selling console in its company history. What’s also most interesting about this example is the reinvention of the company – something that is possible in today’s market landscape.

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS
Unilever fighting off the Kraft takeover was a surprising result. Airbnb, for successfully moving from being a disruptive technology to building a brand (something Uber hasn’t done).

Mental health and diversity issues gaining traction

Crawford Hollingworth, global founder, The Behavioural Architects
For me, the biggest success has been the social shift in awareness and openness to a chronic problem. 2017 has left us all eyes wide open to the issue of mental health and loneliness which, across all demographics, are part of so many people’s daily lives. This new openness and honesty has made it much easier to hold up one’s hand and say ‘I am finding life really tough’ or ‘I feel so alone’ and in this more compassionate climate we have taken steps towards a more open, caring and proactive society. 2017 has given people a loud voice and a listening ear to issues that have been ignored or stigmatised for too long and which impact all our lives directly or indirectly.

Tom Ewing, head of communications, System1
I want to give a shout-out to the researchers pushing the diversity issue forward. People like Annie Pettit and Kristin Luck have been fantastic about working to get qualified women speakers – including many who’ve never had the chance to talk at events – up on stage and into the public eye. It’s also been quite instructive to see who gets their boxers in a bunch about it!


Will Galgey, UK chief executive, Kantar TNS
The seemingly unstoppable rise of Amazon. In particular, Alexa has stolen a march on its competitors and put voice into the public consciousness.

Leah Kennedy, head of global insight, BT
The explosive rise of the Amazon Echo. A year ago, nobody had even heard of it. Today, you can’t move for talk of home assistants and all my friends and family have got at least one. Amazon’s first mover advantage has put it in a strong position for the future smart home and it is rapidly increasing the number of skills Alexa has, meaning it’s now genuinely useful, not just a cute gimmick. Estimates are that Amazon has around 70% share of the home assistant market – pretty remarkable, when you consider it is up against the likes of Google and Apple.

Political polls

Harley Titchener, head of research, Dunnhumby
Has political polling finally found its way again? After the pollsters’ poor predictions for the results of the Brexit referendum and the US elections in 2016, it looks like polling has pulled its socks up in the case of the recent gay marriage plebiscite in Australia. The results of 61.6% in favour of gay marriage, versus 38.4% against were accurately reflected in polling data; a first step towards giving electoral research back its lost credibility.

Budget supermarkets

Crispin Beale, chief executive, Chime Insight & Engagement
Both Aldi and Lidl have done a fantastic job of capitalising on the current economic climate. The environment in 2017 naturally suited their offerings but both have been clever about maximising these benefits. The steps they have taken, such as using own-label ‘copycat’ products, collaborating with celebrities and providing luxury items at a knocked down price, have highlighted their acute understanding of the marketplace and how to use it to their advantage.

In terms of research agencies, it has been those able to offer a more self-service focused approach that have thrived. This is something more traditional organisations see as a threat, yet something clients will increasingly be demanding.

Over the Christmas period, Research Live is publishing a series of articles reflecting on the biggest developments, trends, and challenges of the past 12 months, and making predictions for the market research industry in 2018.