2019 | What’s in store across the insights industry? Applied Behavioral Science & the Year of Outcomes

December 17, 2018

It is that time of year when the industry tends to lean towards introspection as we contemplate achievements of the past 12 months, as well as the exciting possibilities of the business cycle ahead. PRS IN VIVO recently shared some of our predictions for 2019 with Greenbook, so we wanted to share them with our readership here, too.

If nothing else, the last 12 months showed many of us across the insights industry that Darwinism is alive and well; survival of the most adaptable being perhaps the term history will most closely associate with 2018. Our first prediction is that 2019 will be no different!

Driven both directly and indirectly by the disruption our clients are facing in their own industries, in 2019 it’s certain that the long overdue wave of disruption sweeping across the insights industry will continue to quicken in pace. Client-side insights departments, facing explicit demands to deliver business outcomes and not research outputs, will continue to rebrand and reinvent their objectives and partnerships through this lens. Demand for innovation will transcend the desire for novelties and “shiny objects.” The bar will be set high for insights agencies to adapt and respond, rapidly, with tools that can demonstrably contribute to business growth, in a world where for many of our clients growth has been all too illusive.

It is therefore predictable, to the degree anyone would be well advised to trust the predictions of any market researcher, that in 2019 four things will happen:

First, the coming of age of behavioral science as the accepted foundation and application of our industry. Behavioral science is, after all, the only way to accurately understand human behavior, particularly in a world in which consumers’ relationships with products is influenced by a retail landscape and shopping environment that changes daily. Application of behavioral science is the one constant in the formula for accurately building consumer experiences that deliver more profitable outcomes. Be-sci principles themselves would teach us that while context will evolve, our innate System 1 can adapt in ways that allow us to continue making choices. Those brands and agencies recognizing the behavioral ‘truth’ about consumers, and designing marketing efforts according to robust be-sci frameworks, will be those who gain positive outcomes.

Second, the continued abandonment by clients of legacy research tools that are output heavy and outcome negligent. Outcome negligence occurs largely because such tools fail to accept the ‘new’ truths behavioral science has visited on the classical, rational, marketing model. Conversely, there is going to be renewed interest in those trusted research methods that always were based on a truly behavioral foundation, especially those which have now been innovated upon to marry behavioral science with new technologies to offer both deeper understanding of consumer experiences and more efficient ‘outcome consulting.’ Imagine, if you will, the capacity of biometrics to understand and then influence System 1 shopping behaviors, or the power of artificial intelligence to accurately and efficiently answer recurrent business questions such as ‘how strong is my early pack idea?’

Third, the growth channels many of our clients continue to invest in, namely e-commerce and digital, will emerge either as new or exciting growth areas for the insights industry. The only other alternative is the insights function ceding budget that will be assigned to these channels to adjacent disciplines.  Those agencies that can help manufacturers, who already understand what constitutes the “shopper’s world” is multi-dimensional, win in these growing channels. The natural follow in 2019 is that our available research tools need to catch-up; it’s never been clearer that this is the moment for any client-side insight department or agency to invest in innovative methods that will provide business outcomes in channels that will grow to be profitable in 2020 and beyond.

Fourth and finally, no matter where the growth and change in our industry comes from, it’s certain 2019 will continue to reveal what a disruptive, dynamic and exciting time it is for all of us insights professionals – or should I say behavioral scientists!

At PRS IN VIVO we like to think of ourselves as the trusted and proven partners to brands who for decades have asked us to help them understand and build better consumer experiences. In the year ahead, we look forward to continuing to do the same – but per the Darwinian spirit of 2018.  We are committed to deliver in ways adapted for a dynamic and complicated world, where behavioral science driven outcomes and growth are fast becoming all that counts for our clients.

THE AUTHOR

 

Alex Hunt serves as the Chief Revenue Officer for PRS IN VIVO.  If your insights organization is looking for a partner to help optimize your planning opportunities for 2019, you can reach Alex at alex.hunt@prs-invivo.com.