5 insight and innovation trends for 2017

We’re looking ahead to the trends that we think will really transform the world of insight and innovation over the next 12 months. From virtual reality to methodologies which get us closer to real consumer behaviour than ever before, our team give their take on the top trends to watch in 2017. Read their thoughts below.

1. The lines between insight and innovation will start to blur

“You’ll start to see the breaking down of the silos between digital and innovation and insight and you’ll get members of all three being part of sprint teams. That’s when the lines between insight and innovation won’t exist anymore. They’ll be part of one team: sprinting together, learning together, doing agile development and build, measure, test, learn loops and that’s where I think the insight industry is heading.”

 Chris Thompson, Director of Innovation.

2. Research will become ever more agile

“FreshMinds has been talking about agile for some time but over the last few years we’ve really brought agile principles to life in our business and that’s affected everything we do, from the way we talk with our clients, to the way we plan our projects and the methodologies that we deploy. Across our client base, our contacts have been talking about being agile for some time but many of them find it difficult to practice what they preach. We believe that 2017 is the year when that’s going to change. The world is moving fast and our insight buyers are realising that they are having to move faster to keep up with it. As a result, they’re going to have to rapidly test, prototype and iterate as they progress through their insight projects.”

Catherine Crump, CEO. 

3. We’ll get closer to actual behaviours than ever before

“The shiny new methodology on everyone’s lips at the moment is passive tracking. But much more interesting than the methodology itself is an even more fascinating question: how can we get closer than ever before to actual rather than claimed behaviours? I think this is going to be a real trend for 2017. Passive tracking is certainly one methodology that’s coming to the fore in this field – helping us to track consumers’ everyday journeys on digital devices. However, it is worth pointing out two things. Firstly, the scale of data that’s generated is huge, and requires a specialist skillset to analyse. Secondly, whilst passive tracking can show you what someone has looked at on their device, and their digital journeys overall, it still can’t tell you why they’ve done this. From our point of view, the key thing here is that while these new technologies are exciting, and offer fascinating insights into consumers’ real behaviour, they do need to be complemented by traditional research techniques to get the most out of them. For passive tracking – this really needs to be qualitative: we’ve found depth interviews a great way to delve further into why consumers act the way they do.”

Bianca Abulafia, Account Director. 

4. Virtual reality will come of age

“Virtual reality broke into the mainstream in 2016 with consumer focused offerings by HTC, Sony and Oculus to name a few. Most, if not all of these offerings are aimed at the computer games market as early adoption of tech and the computer games market have often gone hand in hand. Throughout 2017, I predict that VR will become more affordable for other applications outside of the gaming space into the more generic consumer market. Insight teams could take this opportunity to utilise the technology to test concepts in new ways – whether that be helping people to experience a new shop layout that doesn’t exist in a physical form or to sit in a new unreleased sports car, from the comfort of their own sofa.”

Rich Cownley, Head of Digital Transformation.

5. Brands will seek more immersive ways of getting closer to consumers

“From Gingerline to Secret Cinema, immersive experiences have become all the rage. But their appeal isn’t just limited to consumers. We’ve found that many of our clients are looking to experiences to immerse themselves and their stakeholders within their customers’ worlds. Over the past few years, we’ve taken our clients on consumer-guided tours, helped them to experience the most hip and happening places to be as a young professional in Barcelona and kitted a London flat out with the latest smart home technology –  all in an effort to create memorable experiences that make insights land. I see this trend really taking off in 2017, as we continue to find innovative, experiential ways to activate insights and bring our clients closer to their customers.”

Maeve O’Dwyer, Account Director.