FEATURE18 December 2019

Review 2019: Trends of the year

Brexit Election 2019 GDPR M&A News Privacy Trends UK

From climate change awareness to disinformation to industry consolidation, a cross-section of the research industry share their thoughts on the standout trends that have shaped the year.

2019 was anything but quiet. Yesterday ( 17th December), we kicked off our end-of-year review articles with a look at the most significant industry developments, which included the move towards integrating multiple data sets and behavioural science and AI becoming mainstream.

Today, our contributors share their views on the standout trends of the year, from societal issues such as climate awareness and disinformation to the trend of consolidation seen in market research.

Climate change and sustainability

Crawford Hollingworth, co-founder, The Behavioural Architects
I feel we have reached a new era of awareness and action over climate change; we’ve finally woken up as a nation. From a behavioural science point of view, just as the tragic image of a drowned Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, led to the cosmopolitan reframing of ‘migrants’ to ‘refugees’, the reframing of ‘climate change’ to ‘a climate emergency’ – coupled with the awesome Greta Thunberg – has made the UK wake up. 

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
Increasing consciousness of the need for sustainability in production, consumption and behaviour. While it’s not a new trend, it’s becoming more and more mainstream. Consumers are expecting brands to play in this space and see it as source of innovation. 

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
Extinction Rebellion. A fascinating transition from unity to antipathy. It’s a real tale of two cities, of polarisation. What started as a movement that gained widespread public support and sympathy quickly changed, turning an entire city against its core aims. It galvanised commuters in Canning Town to direct action to get to work. Surely a masterclass in ‘how not to do things'...?

Disinformation and lies

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
One word. Disinformation! The official term for fake news, the issue of disinformation really seems to have shot up the policy and public discourse. In our research, we’re finding that it’s an issue people care and are worried about, but one that they don’t always feel empowered to act upon. We’ve seen this played out in the election, with trust front and centre stage.

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori
Lying by politicians and the use of ‘dead cats’ to distract voters.

… but amid the doom and gloom, a new wave of optimism?

Laura Ratcliffe, managing director, Flamingo
In a world that feels increasingly unstable and uncertain, the wave of radical optimism has flown in the face of this. We see radical optimists striving for more connection, more meaning and more agency. It is an exciting and empowering approach to the world we live in and there is a growing cultural receptiveness to brands speaking with sincerity and seriousness about their role in building a better future. This offers opportunities for brands to build deeper relationships with those they seek to serve in 2020 and beyond.   

Data and privacy

Emma Cooper, managing director, group operations, System1
The rise of data – everyone wants to invest in it, monetise it, understand it, yet so few really do.

Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder and chief executive, YouGov
Data privacy regulation being increasingly regarded as a benefit to the industry, not a barrier. When GDPR came into force in 2018, many people saw trouble ahead. The scope for creating value from personal data requires new levels of trust between companies and data subjects and this past year shows that regulation presents a massive opportunity for those who approach it in the right way.

Far from hindering the relationship between consumers and brands, compliance can forge a deeper relationship – turning the ethical collection and selling of personal data into robust business proposition that benefits everyone.

Industry consolidation and shifts

Ray Poynter, chief executive, The Future Place and chief research officer, Potentiate
Mergers and acquisitions. For many years, the market research industry has been relatively static, but now we are seeing large, medium-sized and small agencies merging and acquiring.

Paul Twite, managing director for Europe & MENA, ITWP
Market research industry consolidation means customers may have less choice – with fewer, bigger research platforms. By default, consumer packaged goods, financial, telecommunications and media & entertainment corporations may soon do all their testing – from ideation to business analysis to commercialisation – with a single research partner, leading to bigger brand and firm partnerships.

Andrew O’Connell, managing director, UK, Dynata
A shift away from doing domestic research to more international research – sectors such as FMCG and retail seem to be feeling the brunt of a lack of consumer confidence and business investment resulting from Brexit uncertainty.

Over the course of the festive period, Research Live will be exploring the key developments of the year and looking ahead to 2020 and the new decade. Tomorrow, our contributors share their campaigns of the year.

1 Comment

11 months ago

Don't think you could me more wrong on XR, I think 'paint the streets' and such a ground swell of action rather than regressive capitalist inaction and propelling of inertia and negativity can change one ill-advised error in Canning Town.... XR is not going away..... be prepared to be late to work....

Like Report