As the final stanza of 2021 approaches, so does the period where many reflect on the year coming to a close and what they are thankful for. I thought this season of Thanksgiving is an ideal time to look at and learn from the many highlights and benefits across market research, consumer insights and data-driven marketing. 

So, to identify the dimensions of insights that are drawing appreciation and thankfulness from insight professionals around the globe, I spoke to some of the world's premier market research experts. These individuals span agencies, enterprises and associations, and are all also Insight250 honorees so they know a thing or two about innovating and leading and can provide some fantastic insight on the innovations and advancements that the industry should be thankful for as we close out the year (note: you can see the full list of honorees and nominate for 2022 at insight250.com).

So, here’s a review from around the world, from Argentina to Australia, of some of the many benefits the market research industry should be thankful for as we close out the 2021 year and look to the next chapter of 2022.

Seyi Adeoye, Chief Executive Officer, Pierrine Consulting, Nigeria
“We are the oracles of the all-important consumers and customers. I am truly amazed regularly at the ability of market research to unearth ‘real jewels’ about consumers and their interactions with different categories; which businesses can then use to fuel further growth. I am always full of pride each time we help businesses make right decisions that lead to growth for their brands and businesses.”

Danny Russell, Strategic Advisor, Danny Russell Consulting, United Kingdom
“Given the (at best) “testing” times we have been through over the past 18 months; how amazing was it that technology (that had often been available for years but never really adopted) came to the fore - from Zoom meetings (reducing the need to be in the office) to being able to quickly get online doctor appointments to the convenience of online shopping. And the research world suddenly adapted from in-person to online qualitative methodologies and platforms; and realized that not only was it more than adequate, but, in many situations, a vast improvement.”

Kristin Luck, President, ESOMAR, United States
“In a year like 2020 that brought significant disruption for many business owners, I’m most thankful for a global research community that came together to offer each other support. From small acts of kindness expressed in WhatsApp messages to more organized efforts to provide business guidance through this rollercoaster of a pandemic, the last 12 months have been an amazing testament not only to the resiliency of our industry but to the interconnectedness of our global community.”


 

Justine Clements, Consumer Insights Manager, Samsung Electronics, Australia
“I’m most thankful for technology and specifically technologies such as AI and machine learning that allow us to explore data on a mammoth scale as well as taking some of the not-so-exciting bits out of the process of conducting, analyzing and reporting market research. Technology means we can focus on the parts that matter, uncovering true insights, storytelling to democratize learning, being creative, solving problems and supporting more effective implementation.”

Shirely Ng, Research Principal, Asia Pacific, Europe Russia, General Motors, China
“I am thankful that sound research serves as a reliable compass; we point decision makers to the right direction. Even if, at times, the decision is taken off course, it can be tweaked and adjusted to still fit into a business plan. We do have to fit into a perimeter limitation, but do not let this limitation blind side you to think “there’s not much I can do.” If we can combine useful learnings in a convincing presentation (that is a skillset, learn to master it), an experienced researcher can be highly respected in a company, and become that voice that people seek out to ask further advice. This is something to be very thankful for.”

Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer, Boots, United Kingdom
“The very best insights and data, often gleaned from research, helps provide powerful and breakthrough moments where as a brand you can clearly see a better way to differentiate, grow and provide a more meaningful role in the lives of your customers. Insight at its best is about unlocking potential for growth and for which I am truly thankful.”

Alex Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, Behaviorally, United States
“I am thankful for two things; first, the potential we have as an industry to be a driver of growth in the future. Technology has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to digitize, extend and transform data collection in ways we could not have imagined even 10 years ago. The entire economics and potential of the market research business have changed, in the same way that digitization has transformed the economics and capability of the business models of many of those enterprises buying market research. It’s our moment to harness these changes, and with the talent in the industry I’m convinced that we can, certainly this is true speaking for our team members at Behaviorally. Second, our industry is full of wonderful people, who perhaps by definition of working in an environment that is in equal measure entrepreneurial and analytical, are fundamentally honest and decent. Only on rare occasions, over 20 years, have I come across intentional dishonesty in the insights industry. So, I’m thankful for the people in our industry, and especially the wonderful team we’ve built at Behaviorally, knowing that the majority make doing the right thing a core value of our professional lives.”

Mariela Mociulsky, CEO, Trendsity, Argentina
“I appreciate the possibility of the research industry becoming a closer community to exchange knowledge and intellectual generosity. This was demonstrated during the pandemic, where we were more integrated than ever. With each research engagement we learn and know more about people, their desires, motivations, family dynamics and fears. In this way, we can accompany companies to implement actions that improve social welfare. We fear that the digital revolution will compete with our discipline, but it is clear that as researchers, we use different tools and there are more data sources. Our value, at some point, could have been in data generation, but today it's all about the interpretation and articulation capacity. That fear that may exist, is important to positivize and appreciate it, because what we really have is a greater amount of instruments to be better researchers.”

Joaquim Bretcha, President Ex-Officio, ESOMAR, Spain
“Quoting Edwards Deming, “Without data, you're just another person with an opinion.” The magic of data and insights is to provide direction based on evidence after putting the right questions.”


 

Mark Langsfeld, CEO, mTab, and Chairman Insight250, United States
“I am truly thankful for the entire global market research and insight community. Having spearheaded the Insight250 awards, this really illustrated the incredible advancements and innovation taking place by enterprises, agencies, and associations from around the world. It’s incredible to see the perspectives from these leaders and innovators and watch them shape and elevate our industry.”

Julia Polyakova, Head of Market Research, Toyota Motor Corporation, Russia
“Overall research as a business instrument is a very powerful tool in the right hands. It helps deliver understanding of your customers’ expectations and needs, evaluates competitive environments, identifies your market position and future potential for development. It also prevents risks of wrong investments and finally makes your customer happy and proud to be an owner of your brand. Research is an excellent tool to be closer to your customer and hear them directly. For all of this we definitely should be thankful to all research teams.”

James Endersby, Chief Executive Officer, Opinium, United Kingdom
“We operate in an industry that succeeds primarily on the strength of its people. If you attract, train and retain great talent you can work on some of the world’s most challenging and diverse problems – personally I find this hugely motivating as I love both the variety and sense that we can help to make the world a better place.”

Fiona Blades, President & Chief Experience Officer, MESH Experience, United States
“I am truly grateful for amazing clients that have partnered with me and our MESH Experience team members over the last 15 years. Without them I wouldn’t have a business, I wouldn’t have explored the world, learned some fascinating things about human behavior and culture, and felt that I had grown personally as a result. These are clients that have embraced innovation, believed in what we do, have encouraged us to develop new use cases for our approach and have demonstrated true partnership. You know who you are, thank you.”

Thank you to all my interviewees who have shared their appreciation and insights on the advancements and benefits we the research industry has enjoyed over the past year, despite all of the challenges we have faced. I certainly feel there are some great tips for us all. There is genuinely much to be thankful for in terms of our teams, tactics and technologies, which should provide a fantastic jumping off point for 2022.

Finally, I am most thankful for the incredible array of research, insight and marketing professionals I have been able to meet and learn from through so many articles and interviews conducted on behalf of the Insight250. The depth and strength of the community and its worldwide expertise is incredible and something the entire industry should be thankful for.