Spotlight on: Young Researcher of the Year finalist, Nick Saxby.
Walnut Unlimited are immensely proud to be nominated in three categories at this year’s MRS Awards. Two of those categories are Young Researcher of the Year – where Nick Saxby (SRE) and Bessie Pike (SRE) are nominated alongside some of the best young talent the market research industry has to offer. We put the spotlight on our Young Researcher of the Year candidates and asked them what it means to be nominated. Here, we’re spotlighting Nick Saxby.
1. What does it mean to be nominated in this category?
When I joined Walnut in 2018, just starting out in my research career, a colleague, Becky Hutchins, was nominated for this same award and I found it to be such an impressive achievement. At the time, Becky was pioneering neuroscience research around the business and it was at this same time that I began working in this field. So, on a personal level, I feel proud to have made similar steps and to be recognised in the same way. Similarly, from an industry sense, I hope that I can use this as a platform to take neuroscience research further and inspire more junior colleagues and aspiring researchers. The understanding and insight you can gain from neuro is what really drew me into the world of research, I hope it can do the same for them.
2. What is your proudest achievement in your research career so far?
Pioneering and sharing my knowledge on a subject which can make a genuine difference in society. Over the past year I have spoken at MRS IMPACT and the MRS &more conference on the power of neuroscience and its capacity to aid minority group representation in advertising. I was also invited by Martyn Sibley, disabilities campaigner and marketing strategist, to discuss the topic and its wider implications on his livestream podcast. It began as an area of interest in my university days, and it feels special to have developed that passion to this extent. Right now, I’m speaking to people from around the world about this work, giving guidance to global clients in the insights and marketing industry, producing materials and thought leadership in this area, and speaking directly to the disability community about how it can help and the actions I believe can drive more meaningful and fair representation.
3. What differentiates you as a nominee for the category of Young Researcher of the Year?
I strongly believe in evolution within research, looking to the future and not getting stuck or left behind. I feel as an industry our nature is to do things in quite a methodical, “research-y” way. Things are moving in the right direction, and I am fortunate enough to work at an agency where my colleagues and leadership champion forward-thinking, innovative methodologies wherever they can be applied, thinking outside of the box about how we can conduct and deliver human understanding for clients.
Since working at Walnut, I’ve always taken the initiative to make sure anything we produce can be communicated far and wide to those outside the market research sphere. An example of this is the work the team and I have conducted in comms evaluation. Due to the nature of this work, I have had to present to several different creative agencies, which can be challenging in itself. But this is another part of this role that I enjoy, delivering our findings in a creative and digestible way, making research truly useful and actionable for creatives and account planners, for example. Fuelling success and encouraging evolution, rather than simply critiquing their work.
4. What does the future of research look like, in your opinion?
I continue to see the rise of the implicit and emotional understanding of responses in research day by day and expect even more adoption over time. Many brands are starting to see the benefits of neuroscience and implicit measurement where they may not have understood or accepted it in the past.
We’ve seen the implementation of neuroscience from a commercial business perspective a lot, but the opportunities for influencing positive behaviour change through this type of insight is growing, with many practical applications from a social research sense waiting to be explored and actioned. Whether it be the work we’re conducing at Walnut with minority group representation, or the benefits that understanding emotional engagement can have in political campaigns, neuroscience will continue to be a huge part of the next 5 years as it has been in the last 5.
More about Nick Saxby…
Nick’s background in psychology has lent to a natural curiosity into human behaviour. A crucial part of our neuro team, he’s worked with a number of leading clients to help optimise and develop their comms; providing efficient and accurate insights. He loves to apply his knowledge of psychology to both traditional research methods and neuroscience to produce insights based on real human understanding. To date, Nick has conducted research for brands including Colgate-Palmolive and LIDL as well as leading creative agencies like Weiden + Kennedy, BBH and Karmarama. Nick is a keen conference speaker and neuroscience advocate.