Review 2020/Preview 2021 – thoughts from Jane Rudling for Research Live.

Posted by Jane Rudling on the 11th January, 2021
The pressing challenge is to understand which changes in consumer behaviour brought about by Covid-19 are here to stay and which were short term and likely to be reversed. We are already helping our clients to understand the changing landscape and the opportunities these changes present.

As part of their annual Review/Preview series for Research Live, Jane Rudling answered a series of questions looking back at 2020 and ahead to 2021. Many of the industry’s leaders participated to create an informed cross-section of industry opinions. See what Jane had to say in full below.

What has been the most significant industry development of 2020? (technology or methodology)
It has been great to see the increased use of blended methodologies – quant, qual, neuroscience, behavioural science, analytics. There is a growing acknowledgment there is not one silver bullet that can crack human decision making. Although this thinking isn’t new, it is good to see this approach becoming more mainstream.

What was the standout trend for 2020?
In 2020 agility has been the name of the game. This has certainly been demonstrated in the massive innovation in the world of online qual. Platform providers and developers stepped up and upgraded their offer very quickly. This step change in capability has turbocharged online qual – a trend that is unlikely to be reversed when face-to-face becomes feasible again.

How do you think the industry has coped with the Covid-19 pandemic?
The industry has shown huge resilience. As an industry we have adapted quickly to what is possible rather than focusing on what is not. We have seen clients and agencies implement rapid change. This has included a great deal of openness and collaboration between agencies and a true spirit of innovation. We have seen new techniques adopted as we seek to understand how consumers have reacted to the challenges brought on by Covid-19 and assess which of these changes are long term rather than just a temporary blip.

What was the best campaign of the year?
Amazon’s “Christmas Ballerina” Ad. Very human and very illustrative of the resilience shown in 2020.

Who is your person of the year?
Jacinda Arden, PM of New Zealand. She has shown how leadership does not neglect being a caring human being. How to successfully lead using empathy.

Aside from Covid-19, what has been the year’s biggest disappointment/anti-climax?
Sadly the Covid-19 crisis moved the environment even further down the global political agenda. It felt like progress was being made in 2019 and that has certainly stalled this year.

What is your New Year’s resolution (professional)?
Maintain the momentum built in 2020. Take the agility, innovation and collaboration demonstrated in 2020 into 2021 and continue to develop improved ways of delivering human understanding.

What are you most excited about for the industry in 2021 – what gives you reason to be optimistic?
We have demonstrated our capacity to evolve and adapt quickly, we can take that energy into 2021. I’m excited about the continued development of new tools and methods that enable us to deliver improved human understanding and help to put people at the heart of decision making.

What is the biggest challenge for the industry heading into the new year, either related to the pandemic or otherwise?
The pressing challenge is to understand which changes in consumer behaviour brought about by Covid-19 are here to stay and which were short term and likely to be reversed. We are already helping our clients to understand the changing landscape and the opportunities these changes present.

Looking ahead to 2021, what skills/talents do you see as being most vital to the industry?
We are looking for a range of multidisciplinary approaches: semiotics, psychologists, behavioural scientists, cultural anthropologists, sociologists, storytellers, etc. Diversity and agility are key moving forward.

What role can the industry play in the recovery from Covid-19 next year?
Helping business and government understand the sentiment of different groups of people as well as discovering what needs to be done to help people feel comfortable going about their daily lives as normally as possible and keeping the economy as positive as possible. Predicting behaviours and adapting clients’ brand strategy accordingly while building trust during the journey.

Meet the Author: Jane Rudling
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