Look Forward? Look back first! Review of 2016

Posted on 6th January 2017 by Berlin in Uncategorized



It’s January 2017 – the time to make New Year resolutions, bold predictions…with more or less confidence in them coming true ;)

Also high time, maybe even overdue, to take a look back and reflect on 2016: what were the highlights? Any clear patterns emerging? Was 2016 just a continuation of what had gone on in 2015, or were any corners turned, notable changes in spending patterns, MR industry mood even?

Here are some personal highlights from 2016:

  • Digital transformation is hitting – witness the Gfk takeover in Q4, with private equity company KKR stepping in for at least 18.5% of their shares.
  • Polarisation – seems that a research project has to be either fast & lower cost or strategic-consultative. Could it be that this will be how Agencies need to structure their offerings in future?
  • Qual steps up – Esomar Qual in Berlin was heartening. Storytelling was the focus, a whole range of inspiring approaches were showcased – including how Big Data companies are using contemporary qual (multi-country online communities), as our own Sebastian Prassek showed so wonderfully with Anne Strauss from Zalando.



  • Predictive Analytics – a complex beast. Witness the Trump and Brexit polling misses. Made me mindful of how simply asking people what they will do in future isn’t likely to be powerfully predictively.
  • Shopper Insights – hot if not sexy. The amount of interest this topic engenders has stuck with me – it’s actionable, concrete, and very tightly linked to sales. Good way to answer the ROI question for Market Research, and with Amazon continuing to innovate, likely to remain a hot topic. Here’s H/T/P’s MD Sven Arn with POSpulse’s CEO Dominic Blank presenting the findings of our qual-quant study “Future of Shopping” at a customer event in September. Let us know if you’re interested in the study, btw!


  • Video – seems to have gone mainstream in capturing “meaningful moments”. This was big at the Esomar Qual event, capturing participant experiences, replaying them in report-outs. Totally involving stuff.
  • Fewer Social Media conversations – there seem to be drastically fewer MR people using Twitter – even Linked In Group conversations seem to have less rich threads. Are there less conversations going on? This blog is deliberately shorter btw – my attempt to get to the point faster.

Overall, from this Western European perspective, 2016 was an encouraging year.

At each of the 3 qual conferences (QRCA Vienna, AQR Berlin, Esomar Qual) I attended in 2016, there was an upbeat mood – “cautiously optimistic” was the feedback I got from many. IIEX 2016 was similar.

The need for insights, customer and people understanding has never been greater – be it in emerging markets, for example, or with the many start-ups that are seeing the ROI of smaller scale pre-launch insights work. That MR is transforming rapidly is becoming ever more clear, data scientists, chief Information officers are in great demand, something that will very likely create a positive halo for the rest of the analytics community… including Market Research ;)

So are we in demand? Thriving ,not just surviving? Waving not drowning?

Could it be that 2016 was a turning point – and that we actually become a little optimistic? I’ll raise my glass to that.

Curious, as ever, as to others’ views.

Oh, and as video is MR mainstream – here’s something to get us all in the mood for looking forward to a great 2017, whatever our thoughts about 2016……;)




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