New international report provides a unique perspective on the resilience and prospects for the insight sector

27th Jan 21

A new international report brings together leading research sector views on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and explores the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2021 and beyond.

The Great Change Accelerator: client and partner perspectives on the future of insights was produced as part of a newly formalised partnership between the Insights Association (USA), MRS (UK) and The Research Society (Australia).  The report is drawn from roundtable discussions with leaders on the provider and client sides who spoke candidly about the many issues they have faced.  Thirty attendees joined from across the globe and included representatives from some of the most innovative and influential brands and agencies such as BT, Carlsberg, GfK, Ipsos MORI, Kantar, L’Oreal, Mars and Prudential.

From the client side a key theme to emerge from the report was how, seemingly overnight at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the research function became seen as the window on the world.  This dramatic shift saw entire C-suites clamouring for real-time data and insight about their customers.  The report explores the longer-term implications of this, and considers how the sector can maintain its raised profile and role, as well as evolving client demand for strategic foresight and a silo-free company-wide approach.

On the provider side, the report reveals that the pandemic has strengthened the client-supplier relationship, with providers being asked to engage earlier and more intensely in the research and insight process.  But it also confirmed it is still evidence that matters, and this means working with a wide variety of evidence including more secondary and non-survey data, using social media insights in a supporting role.

The report concludes with a look at the challenges the sector faces and client concerns for the future.  These include Covid-19’s impact as a change accelerator; the language barrier – speaking to itself rather than the board; the trend for producing more insight with fewer resources, broadening insight’s voice and reach, and a range of other crucial issues.  The full report can be downloaded here. If you would like to join the conversation on Twitter, do so using the hashtag #MRXMatters.

Melanie Courtright, CEO of the Insights Association comments: “This was a wonderful opportunity to hear from leaders working in a wide range of areas across the insights ecosystem.  Being able to hear directly from peers around the globe and bring those learnings back to our members is such a value; and why we’re so excited about our partnership with MRS and The Research Society.”

Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, comments: “These 30 sector leaders confirmed that the extraordinary events of last year saw demand for insight and evidence in board rooms increase exponentially.  But they also highlighted how, if we are to keep our seat at the table, we must continue to demonstrate value through actionable insight.  We need to be agile, and willing to adapt to changing needs, and I encourage the whole sector to read this report and join the conversation about our future.  The collaboration between MRS, the Insights Association and The Research Society is already proving invaluable and we look forward to our next project together.”

Elissa Molloy, chief executive of The Research Society, said: “As we move into a new year this timely report explores the themes that insight leaders, from both client-side and agencies, identified as having the greatest impact in 2020.  We believe that The Great Pivot will provide our members and stakeholders with valuable insights into the prevailing themes in the sector, enhancing their ability to create and deliver value for their clients, business and the wider research community.”



About MRS

  • The UK is the world’s second largest research market.
  • With members in more than 60 countries, MRS is the world’s leading research association.
  • It has a diverse membership of individuals at all levels of experience and seniority within agencies, consultancies, support services, client-side organisations, the public sector and the academic community.
  • MRS represents 80% of research agencies who commit to, and are regulated by, the MRS Code of Conduct to ensure professional and ethical research of the highest standard of excellence.
  • MRS’ Covid-19 information hub is available here:
  • In 2013 MRS launched the Fair Data trust mark that demonstrates which organisations handle their customers’ personal data fairly. 
  • MRS is the global leader in research qualifications and training.

About The Insights Association

  • As the leading voice, resource and network of the marketing research and data analytics community, the Insights Association (IA) helps its members create competitive advantage.
  • All IA revenue is invested in quality standards, legal and business advocacy, education, certification and direct support to enable members to thrive in an evolving industry and drive business impact.

About The Research Society

  • The Research Society is the leading research association in Australia.
  • The Research Society is the community for supporting and developing research, insights, CX and analytics professionals throughout their career with specialist training and professional qualification (QPR), mentoring, networking and research awards.
  • The Research Society is underpinned by a strong ethical Code of Professional Behaviour that aligns with the Australian Privacy Principles.
  • The Research Society supports organisations to certify to globally recognised ISO standards and has exclusive rights in Australia to the Fair Data program that ensures companies collect, store and use the general public’s personal data and information in line with Australian privacy and EU GDPR requirements.

For further information, please contact:
Elissa Molloy
+61 2 95993100
+61 417 155 325