Consumer Trends

Hopes & Fears for 2020

Ray Poynter
July 28, 2021
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In December, Ray Poynter shared his Predictions, Hopes & Fears at our special breakfast seminars in Sydney & Melbourne. Here's what he had to say.

Four Predictions

1. Changes to the Insights Ecosystem
The insights ecosystem is changing. Companies need to integrate insights into their lean and agile teams. Privacy is a growing concern with people and legislators and courts are making tools like CRM, CX and Big Data more problematic. In terms of the market, insights companies are hot, and we are seeing big agencies (e.g. Kantar, GfK, Ipsos and Nielsen) changing, but we are also seeing medium-sized and small agencies, buying and merging. One interesting aspect is that a growing number of companies who would not think of themselves as doing UX, CX, or ‘market research’ are being acquired by insights companies and their skills and tools leveraged. Similarly, companies like SAP are acquiring insights companies.

2. Analytics
We are seeing a growth in analytics and a progression from Descriptive Analytics to Predictive Analytics, to Prescriptive Analytics. Prescriptive Analytics moves from just describing and predicting towards suggesting optimal actions and tackling the 'Why?'.

3. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Automation has been maturing for several years and in 2020 we will see a jump in the amount of AI and related techniques being used in conjunction with automation. But as we cover in Hopes and Fears, this could be good or bad for people.

4. Integration
One data source alone rarely answers a real problem, the best answers come from integrating data sources. 2020 is going to see a big increase in the use of multiple data sources, including the blending of ad hoc with continuous, qual with quant, and big data with non-big data sources. The blending of CX and Insight Communities is one example of this.

Three Hopes

1. People
People do not rotate around brands; brands rotate around people. There is a global movement going on, a shift towards humanising brands, services, and companies. My hope is that we realise this, that our clients realise this, and that our suppliers realise this. Treating people as people and respecting them as individuals is a key step in humanising the business. Brands need to develop empathy if they are to be useful (and profitable) in the future.

2. Return on Investment
For too long, market research has been simply seen as risk reduction and the scorecard keeper (measuring other people’s ROI). My hope is that the trend towards demanding ROI for research and insights will continue – and that insights will demonstrate how much value they can and do add.

3. Video
One of the key weaknesses with the way brands and organisations operate is a lack of empathy. The people who use our products and services are often different from the people designing, making and marketing them. The most powerful tool we have, in terms of increasing empathy, is video. Don’t just measure things, don’t just describe things, show them to me, and show them in ways that enhance my empathy.

Two Fears

1. Over Robotisation
Automation, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence all have the potential to improve lives, to make things better, faster and cheaper. However, they can also be misused. If research becomes too standardised, if we move from understanding our tools to adopting black boxes, if the research fails to recognise the human role in problem solving, then research will be faster and cheaper, but much less useful.

2. Snake Oil and Fool's Gold
There has been an explosion of platforms offering insight tools that seem to promise the world. But remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Techniques based on skewed samples (like only Twitter users, or only Alexa users), or based on contested science (e.g. facial coding), or models that fail to distinguish between causality and correlation (like some machine learning approaches) are likely to produce attractive but unhelpful results.

The Coda

A coda is a final thought that shines light on the rest of the piece. Our coda is the theme of Augmentation. 2020 will see an expansion of AI, machine learning, automation, prescriptive analytics, enhanced dashboards, and exciting new visualisation options. However, all of these exciting new tools will only be of benefit if they allow our people to do more. None of the tools will do jobs on their own, the key to success is to work out how to implement new tools in ways that make people more productive.

Every time you look at a new tool or application, ask yourself ‘Will this allow people to work, faster, with less effort and strain, and with more satisfaction?’ Focus on the tools that allow people to move away from the mind-numbing, repetitive, and error-prone processes and towards those things that people are good at.

If you have any further questions about what the decade ahead will bring and how we can help you prepare, contact us

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