4 Ways the Insights Industry Needs to Evolve in 2021

2020 has come and gone. Good riddance. There is no need for us to recap how challenging the year was. However, as crazy as 2020 turned out to be, it still offered opportunity for the insights industry to be the guiding voice during uncertain times.

As the New Year begins, most of us have probably made resolutions. A resolution is defined as “a firm decision to do or not do something.” At Quester, we don’t think resolutions go far enough for the insights industry in 2021 and beyond. Based on the accelerated changes due to COVID-19, now is the time for industry evolution.

Evolution. Change. Those words can seem daunting and, if we are completely honest with ourselves, as an industry we are often slow to adopt change. However, if we are going to continue to provide long- term business impact and growth to our clients and organizations, we can’t be afraid to push for that change. With a rapidly changing consumer, 2021 provides the insights industry the perfect opportunity to quickly evolve.

Here are our commitments to evolution in 2021:

  1. Keep the light shining bright. As mentioned earlier, 2020 placed a spotlight on consumer insights as leadership craved in-the-moment understanding of consumers’ thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc. The current consumer and market landscape have created an opportunity for insights departments to make a profound business impact. Neuroscience suggests that the way people are processing information has fundamentally changed due to COVID-19. While we know that this change has taken place, we still don’t know the long-term implications on consumers’ decision making. There isn’t a consumer or brand in the world that is unaffected by this. In many ways, we are starting fresh, and brands must be consumer centric to drive impact, change, and growth.
  2. Start taking credit! We as an industry need to take credit for success. Often, our insights are the backbone of activation by brand, innovation, marketing, and sales teams. Brand, innovation and creative agencies take pride and credit for developing campaigns and new products and services based on the insights we provide. It’s time for the insights industry to take credit and be proud of these successes! If we reinforce, celebrate, and recognize our business impact, then it will become easier for insights organizations to increase their budgets and take a more prominent role within their organization. I’ll say it one more time: STAND UP AND TAKE CREDIT!
  3. Maintain a passion for finding the best insights. Earlier we mentioned that the insights industry can be slow to adopt change. However, with the continued push on the insights industry by organizations to provide value, we need to focus more on uncovering differentiated consumer truths. This may mean we need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Try new techniques and methodologies. Stop asking the questions we already know answers to. Put the focus back on finding unknown and unique insights. Finding these insights is the excitement and passion that led most of us to enter the insights industry.
  4. Provide a better experience for respondents. There will always be a focus on maintaining data quality of respondents. Increasing worry over bots, speeders, etc. are here to stay in 2021. However, as an industry we need to reset our thinking on the way we write and conduct surveys to keep respondents engaged. The use of gamification, transparency with respondents about expectations, and providing a better overall respondent experience should all be part of the conversation. This might entail rethinking survey length, attribute lists, etc., but it could be time to focus on quality rather than quantity. As younger generations become the focus for a lot of brands, we need to continue to push for providing an experience that keeps them engaged.

As 2021 brings a renewed optimism, we hope that everyone has a fantastic New Year!


  • Patrick Arminio

    As VP of Client Services and Content, Patrick helps clients identify actionable research opportunities to help drive their business results. He is also the self-appointed Minister of Fun.

    Despite missing half of the decade, Patrick loves all things 80’s. Hair bands, power ballads, MacGyver and Mullets…talk about a Golden Era! Coincidentally, he has a very patient and accommodating wife. Summer is his favorite season…sun’s out, guns out!

    Patrick’s favorite thing about Quester is the people. Some of the smartest people in the industry work here. Their passion for language and research is obvious in every project we do. We’re all one big happy family – some would say we are closer than the Tanner’s from Full House.

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