Solving Shared Challenges with Major Insight Firms

Published Nov 17, 2022

Jamie Clarke, Director, UK Market Research at Toluna

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Last week, I hosted an event with 15 C-Level executives from the UK’s top insight firms. We run these events once each quarter and have dubbed it the ‘Insight Leader’s Lunch.’ These sessions are built on the premise that leaders of insight firms experience many of the same challenges, and we provide a forum for a Chatham House Rule discussion of them.

Ahead of the event, attendees kindly completed a short survey (given our industry, how could we not conduct some primary research?) on which topics they’d most like to cover in our discussion.  The top three topics included:

1. Market changes and opportunities for growth

2. Resourcing solutions & how is ‘hybrid’ really working

3. Use of technology and automation to drive efficiency

As always, the latest session brought about lively conversations, and it’s clear that insight firms share many of the same challenges. Ultimately, there is no ‘right’ answer when addressing these topics—as evidenced by each firm tackling them in different ways—but it’s useful to listen to others’ perspectives and approaches.

One guest remarked how reassuring it was to hear that they weren’t alone in experiencing a challenging Q3, and that there is a sense of cautious optimism among 80% of those who attended and said they expect 2023 to be a growth year for their business.

Many insight firms are grappling with an influx of new joiners, as well as those with less than a year’s experience in their company following the ‘Summer of Resignation’ in 2021. This has had an impact on existing teams who have been working extremely hard to keep clients happy and deadlines met.  Along with the increase of new hires has also come increased salary and hiring costs, which has impacted budgets for many companies. Another hot topic of discussion was ‘hybrid’ working, and the group consensus was that face-to-face time in the office is invaluable for team cohesion, culture, and collaboration.

From there, I was able to share a few examples where Toluna is partnering with insight firms to overcome these key challenges:

1. We’re helping clients unlock better value from their annual spend through to access to the Toluna Start platform. The use of technology frees up researcher time to concentrate on client-focused, added-value tasks. One agency that we work with has done this to great effect; they’ve used our platform to deliver 24-hour turnaround on Ad Testing for clients. This enabled them to deliver work they’d never been able to do before and opened up a new revenue stream for their business.

2. With another client, we have become part of the onboarding process for new joiners. As part of their onboarding program, we share our view of the insight world and online research knowledge. Our team also regularly works from their office, where we collaborate on proposals and regularly update the entire team on recent MR developments or trends we see. This ensures their entire team is kept up-to-speed on the latest developments and innovations in the market.

3. Finally, insight firms have told us about a renewed focus on quality from their clients. To address that need, we are running Quality Consultations with clients. These are bespoke sessions with our VP of Online Data Quality to share our best practice approach, latest quality innovations, and the ESOMAR and MRS initiatives that we are actively involved in.

Following another year of the unexpected, it was fascinating to hear how insight firms are tackling these challenges, and I’m looking forward to helping all our clients close out 2022 in the best way possible.

I’d be more than happy to discuss these themes in greater detail, so please do get in contact at if it’s of interest. I also host an Insight Leader’s Lunch once each quarter, so please let me know if you’d like to attend a future event.

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