Predictions for 2018


Happy New Year!

2018 already – high time for some resolutions, plans, predictions! What can market research anticipate, look forward to in 2018 – in times of continuing low visibility?

2017 was a year of light and shade, of ongoing disruption and surprises for many across the globe: will the coming 12 months be similar? Do we need to prepare for “a year of reckoning” as Forrester predicts in its report “Predictions 2018. A Year of Reckoning”, with battles fought on digital transformation separating winners more clearly from the rest? It sounds ominous, apocalyptic even – maybe overdramatic?

I’d push back at least as far as market research is concerned. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Forrester’s same report places weight on the factor of “unmet customer expectations…resulting in churn” and refers to how “customers’ expectations will outpace companies’ ability to evolve or invent experiences”.

Surely a huge opportunity for research, data geeks, analytics professionals – to guide and shine light on the changing needs of complex, partly irrational consumer groups? To help companies deliver on changing expectations, respond to unfulfilled consumer needs, however latent and unarticulated?

Predictions are always tricky to say the least – but still: here’s our view on what the coming year might bring:

Agility will be a continuing trend – highlighting the need to become not just quicker in project turnarounds, but leaner, more efficient, more succinct in recommending actions.

• The demand for data-related consultative skills will increase – data availability will continue to grow exponentially, the ability to turn that into critical business insights will grow in value as a skillset.

New competitors will continue to enter the MR territory – management consultancies, design agencies, Big Data specialists for example.

• Market research will be challenged to show its impact beyond the insights department – interacting more broadly across client organisations, especially Marketing and R&D functions.

• Technology will continue to surprise us in ways we cannot foresee. Much will not stick – the siren voice of tech will still capture the broad imagination, often without full justification.

Last but not least: qualitative research will continue to play an important role in providing answers to the deceptively simple-sounding question: “why?”

Our industry is changing apace – we’re in the midst of a digital transformation process, with all that entails. Maybe there’s room here for one wish: that 2018 is the year where we re-focus on quality, showcasing the immensely powerful role research has played across all sorts of business situations, throwing the spotlight on effectiveness as a counterbalance to the all-consuming focus on efficiencies.

The voice of the consumer remains complex, fickle, fascinating – for those of us in the business of people understanding surely a good time to be in business.

The voice of our industry, individually and collectively, needs to be heard more clearly, broadly – helping us secure more value for our activities, grabbing the opportunity space with a passion that for some may not come naturally.

Here’s raising our consumer-centric glasses to 2018 – good cheer, and a very Happy New Year!

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