OPINION10 January 2022

Say yes to 2022

Covid-19 Innovations Opinion People Trends UK

There is plenty to be optimistic about for the market research industry in 2022, says Ben Hogg. 


Looking back on everything that happened in the past year, feelings of chaos and uncertainty come to mind first, but I think we’re finally at the point where we’re getting comfortable with near constant change.

To say that the market research and insights industry, and nearly every other sector, has been a true rollercoaster is very much an understatement. But, as a glass half full man (Macallan, if you’re buying) there’s no need to focus on the downs (like the ongoing effects of Covid-19 ) and instead we can focus on the ups. In particular, the opportunities that will continue to deliver huge upside for our industry in 2022.

Perhaps the biggest trend of the last 12 months has been the massive surge in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) globally. By the end of this year, 2021 will officially become the biggest year ever for global M&A activity, banking $5 trillion and seeing a record number of deals worth more than a billion US dollars announced. Tech alone boasted an incredible 133% increase to reach an all-time high in global M&A deals announced this year, accounting for 20% of the total M&A market.

That said, it’s unsurprising that market research capitalised on this momentum. M&A activity in research technology (ResTech) accelerated at a speed we haven’t seen before. Take a minute to consider all that has happened – Schlesinger and Methodify, Momentive to ZenDesk, Strat7 and Incite, Dynata and InBrain, WALR and QuenchTec, Savanta and Youthsight, Confirmit and FocusVision rebranding as Forsta, Bilendi and Respondi, and of course, Cint and Lucid. Quite the year, to put it simply.

Although activity was at an all time high, there are no signs of slowing. In fact, tech M&A deals are predicted to peak in 2022, meaning we’re in for an interesting ride. This too at a time where year end revenues are reportedly higher. In an ever-changing world, the need for businesses to have a fast finger on the pulse of consumer behaviours while keeping costs down will also continue – we need to be ready for it.

A heightened need for consumer insights
That leads to the second trend – the growing opportunity to democratise access to consumer insight. More than ever, today’s marketers, advertisers and business owners must keep pace with shifting consumer behaviours, sentiments and purchase patterns. ResTech is helping to make grasping those changes much more manageable by offering quick access to consumer data without added costs, additional resources or in-depth expertise in research.

Incorporating a range of technologies – from programmatic and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics – into the research process, ResTech has accelerated the ability for anyone to get the data they need to make the right decisions at the right time. By automating the traditional approach to market research, it completely eliminates the need for businesses to hold back on investing in understanding their target audiences.

This heightened need to understand the new behaviours of everyday consumers isn’t going away anytime soon. While most of us are ready to move on as business, and life as normal, it’s clear that the pandemic’s disruption will be long lasting, continuing to drive new consumer behaviours that have big impact on brands, products and experiences. For brands and businesses alike, this is a great time to rethink how you engage with your audiences – to do this, you need to connect the dots between consumers’ needs, desires, motivations and ambitions – what do they think, want, do, and aspire to? 

Fresh perspectives
The quality, passion and talent in the younger generations have propelled the industry forward in recent months and it’s only going to get better from here. As an industry, if we’re smart enough to welcome fresh points of view and a new vision for the future, we will continue to see growth and positive change.

Not only are newcomers challenging the status quo, but their optimism for what the industry could be is pushing the industry to evolve, and at a much faster rate. Attitude trumps everything else and we can all learn something from these younger colleagues.

Poor attitudes can be toxic and can cause devastating damage to team morale. Hire for positive attitudes, then train eager employees for skills – with the right leadership in place, this presents a win-win. Recognising, rewarding and retaining talent will be key to making sure that the most skilled and innovative minds want to remain in the industry for the long haul.

We all know that there is a war for talent going on. And, the trend around remote or hybrid working is keeping things interesting as employees know they’ll be able to bring in London salaries irrespective of where they choose to live. Business leaders and owners will need to give people a place where they can grow, feel appreciated, needed and wanted, with appropriate remuneration.

In the year ahead, there’s plenty to look forward to, but those opportunities will only be fully recognised if we adopt the right mindset.  Say yes and work out the ‘how’ later. Saying yes to people is incredibly powerful, whether it takes you out of your comfort zone, encourages collaboration, shows your team that you hear them and want to help, or just adds a bit of fun to life. My resolution for 2022: I’m going to say yes more often (unless you ask me for a large Macallan).

Ben Hogg is managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific at Lucid.