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FEATURE21 December 2018

Review 2018: biggest disappointments of the year

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From lack of clarity on Brexit to a deluge of GDPR re-consent emails, 2018 has had its fair share of anti-climaxes. Here, a cross-section of the market research industry tell us what they've been most disappointed by in 2018.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
The slow and largely uninspiring efforts by brands and retailers alike to reduce plastic use in face of a consumer backlash from the impact of the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 on our consciousness (especially as ‘single-use’ was named Collins Dictionary’s word of the year). Consumers simply cannot understand what is taking brands, manufacturers, retailers and politicians so long to act. It’s going to be a key competitive differentiator at the very least in 2019, it could be more significant for those who fail to effect genuine change.

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori
For Brexiteers, the deal produced by Theresa May which finally showed that ‘cakeism’ (having it and eating it) is dead.

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director and founder, Trinity McQueen
The ability of politicians and governments in both the UK and US to get away with blatant lying and manipulation with little challenge from, and often support of, mainstream media brands. If our leaders can lie openly without challenge or repercussions, what does this mean for brands and advertising in the future?

Crawford Hollingworth, founder, The Behavioural Architects
The post-truth world just got bigger and bigger. The terrible power of confirmation bias meant everyone was able to justify any argument, however mad. What it has left in its wake are increasingly disengaged citizens who feel so disconnected and disempowered they are starting to just not care. This will further fuel the nasty trend to self-protectionism and all the darkness that potentially brings. We are living in the post-truth shadow and we are desperate for light.

Nick Bonney, founder, Deep Blue Thinking
The amount of re-consent e-mails in May post-GDPR.

Will Ullstein, commercial director, YouGov
The World Cup – and not just because football didn’t come home. What was arguably worse from an innovation point of view was that the first blockchain advert ever to appear on TV just left people confused. Given how central it is to the future of so many things – research included – it could (and should) have done so much more.

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
It has to be the reputation-busting Rees-Mogg rebellion. The very definition of anti-climax.

Ryan Howard, head of analytics, Simpson Carpenter
I was so excited and intimidated by big data. However, the more I see of it, the more time I spend cobbling together a big data skillset, the more bored and less convinced I have become. Much has to do with the kind of data that can get ‘big’. Once conquered into a dashboard, big data is only tangentially interesting to astute marketers, flawed, noisy and without the wide-reaching magic we expected. It is safe to say that, from a customer insights perspective at least, big data will forever be the epitome of hype.

Jane Rudling, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
Brexit. I think we all hoped for more clarity at this stage, but confusion still reigns.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
Facebook has been hugely disappointing on so many levels.

Andy Brown, chief executive, Kantar Media
One of our industry’s biggest disappointments is the lack of work we do in marketing ourselves and speaking out about what we do as a professional group. As an industry, I truly believe there is a lot more that could be done to demonstrate and vocalise the outcomes of the work that we’re doing.

Ray Poynter, chief executive, The Future Place
Big data – too often it appears to be WOM (write only memory). It needs to deliver.

Frédéric-Charles Petit, chief executive and founder, Toluna
There’s been a lot of continued hype around virtual reality, but the actual reality is that it’s failed to gain mainstream consumer adoption – despite the fact that VR equipment has dropped significantly in price.

Shifting strategies away from complex games and more to more universal things like movies and continuing to bring down the price of VR equipment could boost consumer adoption, but in the meantime, AR (augmented reality) will enjoy greater consumer usage due to applications that make it easy to interact with on mobile phones.

Steve Phillips, chief executive, ZappiStore
Machine learning has provided genuine value, but the broader idea of AI has not yet landed with as much of an impact.

Adele Gritten, managing director, Future Thinking
Growth figures for the research and insights industry. You only need to look at the Research Live headlines of late to see it’s not all rosy. 

Over the course of the festive period and beyond, Research Live will publish a series of articles reviewing 2018 and looking ahead to what’s in store for 2019.