Presenters: Simon Chadwick, Managing Partner, Cambiar; Lenny Murphy, Executive Editor, GreenBook; Ken Sonenclar, Managing Director, DeSilva+Phillips; Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: Thanks everyone for your time today. This is the Insights Industry Beyond COVID-19. A few housekeeping items, first, quick disclaimer, as you have grown to expect, the information we share today is not intended to substitute for legal or financial advice that you would get from a personal accountant or lawyer or counsel. If you have specific questions about something and you need to be connected with some accounting or financial advisor support, let us know and we'll do our best to connect you, but we will be sharing with you quite a bit of information today and we hope that it proves informative for you. If you have not yet pulled up your QA and your chat pod, I would encourage you to do so. The QA pod is for questions and answers and the chat pod allows you to send individual and broadcast chat announcements. You can use either/or and you can also put in content anonymously. If you have a comment, I really encourage you to use that there. If you have something you want to contribute, a link, just use those QA pod and chat pods however you would like. We will do our best to get to all of your questions and we will leave time at the end for Q&A and if we don't get to it, then we'll do our best to follow up with you. We would love to hear from you during the session today. And so one quick reminder for you is that we have the resource page, every town hall is recorded and will be made available to you via the platform, but also you can access this one and all the previous ones on our coronavirus resource page. You'll also find government and health links, articles. There's a research library that's building that is really quite impressive, and as well as transcripts from our town hall. The transcripts are made possible through the partnership of Focus Forward. We thank them very much. We will create a Q&A transcript as well and make that available on the page and on social media. And so don't forget to go and use that link. Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you today. I would like to start with Ken Sonenclar. Ken is the Managing Director of Oaklins DeSilva + Phillips. His email has – address has been provided, thank you very much, should you wish to follow up with him about a specific question. We'll be referencing a report put out by Oaklins DeSilva + Phillips and Ken is the primary author on that, and it will be available for you in your chat pod if you have not already clicked on that report from your invitation. Ken's enjoyed a varied career across the media landscape, served as the founding editor of Information Week Magazine before a 15 year career in research and consulting, first as an analyst and program director for – on AI at the Gartner Group and later as a founder and CEO of New Science Associates, eventually acquired by Gartner. Ken's focus areas include marketing services, customer intelligence, ad tech, e-commerce events and cross-border transactions. He's also been involved in the sales of companies like Vision Critical to MARU Group and RDA to Ipsos. And he's the author of the novel Bombs and Believers. I like that title very much. Ken is joined by Lenny Murphy, Executive Director of GreenBook, widely considered an influential analytics and industry thought leader and advisor, headed the full service agency Rockhopper Research, and then tech-driven startup BrandScan360, director of data privacy platform Veriglif and founding partner of the Gen2 Advisors. Leveraged that experienced into building the world's platform on content and marketing support. He has a thriving advisory business, sits on the boards of companies and participates in M&A and fundraising activities around the world, which will be a good contribution to our conversation today, so thank you, Lenny. And then Ken and Lenny are joined by Simon Chadwick, an industry icon and a friend to the Insights Association. Thank you very much. Managing Partner at Cambiar, management consulting company dedicated to market research industry. Before founding Cambiar, he – Simon was a Global CEO of NOP World, prior to which he ran six companies within Kantar. Past chair of the Insights Association, as you know, and its predecessor CASRO. He and his colleagues at Cambiar are authors and commentators on the research profession. He is a fellow of the Market Research Society and is Editor in Chief of Research World, serves on the board of directors of a number of research-related companies. So what a prestigious group and Ken, Lenny, Simon and I are going to talk with you today about the insights industry beyond COVID-19. Let's get started. Let's begin, if you don't mind, with a summary of what you're seeing in the financial sector of the industry. Ken, why don't we start with you?
Ken Sonenclar: Sure, thank you, Melanie. It is, from our perspective as investment bankers looking out at the insights industry, a mixed bag right now, as you might expect, and as we tried to detail in the report we issued last week. Certainly some sectors of the industry are feeling pain, some a great deal of pain. We've all heard stories of companies that have furloughed workers, laid off people, and we can talk about which sectors those are as we go on. But at the same time, we – there are companies out there that are doing not only well, but they're actually, because of the way they're positioned in the industry right now, they're probably enjoying the best quarter that they've ever had because they do offer services that, for good or bad, match what we need right now in the middle of this pandemic. And in the same way, we'll dive into some details about those companies. More specifically, in the world of M&A, business goes on. There are – my company, I'm sure all others out there, are – have clients that are looking to sell the business, we have clients that are looking to buy businesses, and those companies that are in a position either with cash or equity to do deals right now are doing so, so that, while I'd say things have slowed a bit, they certainly have not stopped.
Melanie Courtright: Thank you. Lenny, how about you?
Lenny Murphy: Echo everything Ken said. Maybe there's a little bit of nuance that I can add the – specifically, I've been paying attention to the venture category, and venture deals do seem to be down. Think there's a lot of particularly funds that are sitting on their money. Portfolios, when all this started, there was a big effort to put out fires around portfolio companies across lots of venture funds, so definitely a wait and see perspective. A lot of the general partners in funds were sitting on their money, their personal money, especially as the stock market tanked, so a lot of resistance for capital calls. That seems to be maybe loosening up a little bit. I haven't seen evidence in our category, I am seeing evidence in some others. There's money, venture money flowing to anybody who has some type of mitigation technologies around COVID-19, for instance, every day, see deals flowing there. That may help us eventually as we look at, from a data perspective, companies that are creating new solutions that are informative and helpful from an analytics standpoint. We may see some more activities start to flow there, but I think it's – if I had to characterize it, I would say we're moving out of the "Oh crap" phase that we first went into, that knee-jerk snap back. Folks are getting a – getting their sea legs, figuring out we understand what this looks like now, and overall, focus more for longer term strategy while opportunistically viewing things as they occur. But I think one key thing is everybody does recognize that the shifts that we were already seeing occur, especially visualization, that's speeding up across the board, and that tends to be the focus from what I'm seeing from an acquisition, M&A, investment perspective is on that digital segment, more so than anything else.
Melanie Courtright: I've heard some say that digital is thriving but I've actually heard others say that digital has also had some impact as well as others because of things like a hold back on advertising research and sort of a regrouping. Are you seeing some of that as well? Some – so it's not as clean as all digital is thriving and all non-digital is suffering, it's muddier than that, correct?
Lenny Murphy: Yes, I think I want to hear Simon's perspective, but it – probably would categorize the – when we think about business levels in the research space, the certainly tracking and testing, which are big buckets of spend in the industry, there was some pull back on that, there was a real focus on short term tactical understanding, and so that seemed to be the priority for a lot of spend in the first few weeks, but now we're seeing more of a shift towards, again, we understand things have changed, now what does that look like in the future? A greater focus on what are the longer term implications and what does that mean for brands, so I think we'll see some leveling out on what that looks like in terms of advertising, et cetera, et cetera, as brands get comfortable with understanding the changes, the new normal. There's a lot of great research being done to understand right now.
Melanie Courtright: Perfect, thank you. Simon, what about you?
Simon Chadwick: I would echo again what Lenny and Ken have said. I think in terms of those who are doing well and those who are suffering, it really is dependent on a number of things. One, the sectors in which you're invested, so if you're heavily invested in automotive, you're suffering right now, for example. If you're invested in ad agencies, you're suffering. But other sectors like pharmaceuticals, for example, in some areas, are doing really well, so it's sector-dependent. It's also dependent I think on the mode that you relied upon, so if you were heavily into CLT, obviously you're either changing rapidly or you're suffering, but digital, particularly in terms of rapid agile digital, is going really well. I think also it depends on the uses that people are putting research to. What we're seeing is that strategic research is actually being – is actually experiencing a considerable uptick right now, so companies that have really gone to a strategic focus and particularly a foresight focus are doing pretty well. I think the other thing that we've seen is the degree to which people are doing well or not is pretty much dependent on how rapidly they responded to this crisis at the beginning. We've seen a number of companies that's responded very quickly indeed, very innovatively, and they might have had a bit of an impact at the beginning, but they're doing OK. Those that were slower are really having a tough time. In terms of capital, as you know, we – at Cambiar, we monitor all the inflowing venture capital into the industry and we issue an annual report on that. Right now we're still seeing venture deals, but they are continuing a trend that we've seen for about two years now, which is that those deals are where funds are putting money into late stage companies that they have been supporting for the last three, four, five years, and they're doubling down on successful investments, there's very little that we can see that is coming into very early stage I see or series A, at least in our neck of the woods. We are seeing private equity activity, but it's tending to be – I don't know whether Ken would back this up, but it's tending to be sort of opportunistic, where they're looking to perhaps roll up companies that are feeling the pain, and do so at a relatively low price, a bargain price. So it is a very mixed bag, but I think there will be definite winners coming out of this at the end and those will be those who have pivoted, been agile in their response, and are invested through luck or otherwise in the right sectors.
Ken Sonenclar: On the private equity side, I would just say that those folks out there who, as Simon indicated, are out to be opportunistic, they've always – they're always there. Call them bottom fishers or whatever.
Simon Chadwick: You're right.
Ken Sonenclar: There's always there, but they are sort of out there showing their teeth a little bit more right now than they might otherwise. I – and I'm private equity generally, as Lenny mentioned, there was that whole moment six weeks ago when everybody was just scared and then no clear notion at all about what was to come. I know the immediate reaction among this investment group was basically to take a look at their own portfolios, see what fires had started, how to put them out, and then for the most part over the last six weeks, I think those fires that could be put out have been put out and now most private equity investors, because we get – we hear from them quite on a regular basis, so they say that they're out looking for deals, whether they're not – whether or not more than usual or going to try and bid down prices is not really clear yet, but that will become clear. One other point I wanted to make also touching on something Simon said about strategy and how strategy-focused research or consulting may be doing better right now. I think that's true but I think in general it's a question of who your client is. If your client is in the C suite, I think you're doing great right now. If your client is more at mid-management level, you're probably not, because those are the folks who are really being squeezed. But if you're serving the C suite, you're probably maybe having your best year since the great recession right now.
Simon Chadwick: I would back that up, Ken. That is exactly what we've been seeing, and those who are serving the C suite, I – there's one company I was talking to a couple of weeks ago, they're up 50% right now because they are a vital piece of decision intelligence.
Lenny Murphy: This dichotomy that we've seen for years is the strategy consulting versus technology, that's the – kind of the dividing line in the industry, to a great extent, and the – I've worked for a lot of the technology companies, so the same thing there, I was speaking to one of my clients this morning, they're up 120%. So the – in the first quarter. They're a virtual qualitative platform, so they had the right solution at the right time to readily adapt. So I think that when we look [INAUDIBLE] there's winners and losers, that the squeeze does tend to be, I would say would be the traditional full-service agencies, for lack of a better term, as they currently exist, that are working more within the research organization, not at the C suite, and are not technology driven but technology enabled. That's where the squeeze is happening, and unfortunately, that probably describes a lot of the industry overall. So those companies that are able to pivot in either direction rapidly, that's what's probably gonna differentiate the winners from the losers, one way or the other.
Melanie Courtright: So let me push on that just a little bit. So strategic foresight C suite research, what does that look like, Simon? What kind of work should they be seeking? What kind of pain and questions should they be seeking to answer?
Simon Chadwick: Well, as far as I can understand from those who are really involved in this, the biggest question right now is what is the landscape going to look like. What is my landscape going to look like? What is my competitive landscape going to look like? What does the consumer look like? And how can I be ahead of the curve to get there? And the other question, of course, which is impossible to answer is when is this going to occur. So I was talking with a client this morning and their competitive intelligence business, which they're selling to the C suites of major pharmaceutical companies, is doing extraordinarily well right now. Because again, what are my competitors focusing on? Where's the biggest competition? So I think it's the questions you would expect CEOs to be asking and CFOs to be asking, and those that are able, not only as Lenny was saying to do research on that, but to consult on the meaning of that and to hypothesize about what it means for them. They're the ones that are doing really well.
Melanie Courtright: Well, and I was on an industry – a LinkedIn thread yesterday actually about a topic in this area, and one of the things we talked about was to understand the questions that you just talked about. Where is the consumer going to feel? What's that going to look like? You're going to need all types of research. You're going to need behavioral because they can't quite articulate what they're thinking. You're going to need system one and system two thinking. You're going to need qual and quant. So it's not that any particular type of research is in trouble. It's just about the ability to adapt the methods to be able to reach people and about the ability to be able to think in this environment but also post COVID, the psychological effects of COVID won't go away. So what does the entire mind – human mind look like about viruses and health safety in general, right?
Simon Chadwick: Right, that's absolutely correct, and I think the other thing that you really highlighted there, Melanie, was the need to address such issues using multiple methods, multiple data sources, and the more that companies in our sector are able to utilize them, draw on those sources, and meld them and synthesize them, the more they're going to be of value. If you're relying solely on primary research right now, then that's not probably a good thing, and I think that's going to – that was again a trend that was already emerging before the crisis, as so many of these were. They're just being accelerated to warp speed right now.
Lenny Murphy: Ken said that in his report, right? That – we're not talking about 2030 anymore. We're talking about 2023. I think that was one of your quotes, Ken.
Ken Sonenclar: Yes, thank you.
Lenny Murphy: It was a great report.
Simon Chadwick: I'll echo that.
Melanie Courtright: Well, you've all talked a little bit about this process that people are going through, going from the oh crap moment to the OK moment, what do I do now. And let's talk a little bit about the I'll call it an adjustment curve, and Simon, you even provided a couple of slides, which I do have available if you'd like me to bring them up. So why don't we start with you on this one?
Simon Chadwick: Yeah, certainly. I mean I think people are very familiar with the Kubler-Ross sort of curve, and I think what we're getting to right now is – we're out of the depression phase and we're into the experimentation, and in some cases, the integration phase. So we are – people say what's the new normal like, which is a horrible phrase, but we're there almost in many ways. We're beginning to understand. But the slide that's up on the screen is a very simple way of kind of trying to sort your thoughts out. It basically looks at industry research mode and research use and says, OK, from what we know, and we don't know everything, but what we know. What things are being really heavily impacted? What things are kind of neutral, and what's really growing here? And I have a second slide, which you might want to put up. Basically, this informs strategic and tactical thinking. So if you can think then about, OK, what do I believe is going to be a permanent change and what do I believe is not, even if it takes a long time to come back to normalcy, then anything that is not permanent, I can take tactical decisions on. I can shift resources around. I can invest in stuff that looks to be good for now, and that's the right hand side of that chart. But if I believe it's permanent, then – and I'm in that business, I should get out of that business and I should be investing in stuff that I think is permanently going to be on the rise and is going to survive this as being a stronger area. So this is a kind of framework to enable people to think about, OK, where should I be putting my resources.
Lenny Murphy: And we went through this before, right? I mean those of us that have been here this – so I was in a strategic foresight session on Wednesday with GreenBook, right? We put on events, etc., etc. Everything's kind of up in the air on what that looks like, so we hired a consultant, a strategic foresight consultant, went through some exercises, and this was very much where we were, Simon. And my point was that through that, I came to the conclusion of, OK, well, this is 2010 all over again. Maybe the stakes were a little bit higher. It feels more disruptive, even than it was from the great recession. But we've been here before. We've been here – our industry has been here before, and many of us as leaders in the industry have been here before. And my key take away from that session is we're going through this exercise that Simon has laid out is, OK, we may have gotten a little bit lazy. Now, it's time to get into fighting shape again, but we've done it. We've done it before, and we can do it again.
Simon Chadwick: Some of us are old enough, Lenny, to have been through it multiple times. But somebody just put up a chat item, Melanie, asking if the first slide could be put back up.
Melanie Courtright: Yeah, I was actually gonna do that too and have you – because I think that this is an interesting way to – even businesses can look at within their own business what has been positively impacted, mildly impacted, negatively impacted, in their industry in their research techniques and in their, you know. So and then to do this same sort of exercise within their own world. You want to talk through this a little bit more?
Simon Chadwick: Yeah, indeed. I mean I think as we said right at the beginning and as Ken has laid out in his report, it is – the first thing you've really got to look at is which of my clients have been affected and which ones have been affected so much that it could be a permanent change. So if I look at the bottom left red box there, I mean obviously hospitality has been hugely affected. Will it be permanent? Probably not, but it will be changed. Travel and tourism, certainly. It's interesting. I've talked to a number of people recently, just this morning talking to a CEO of a company that employs 1,000 people, and he was saying my gosh, it's so – we transitioned so easily to working from home. This is going to have major consequences on how we organize going forward. Well, and he said 80% of business trips are absolutely useless. Why are we spending all that time? Well, if his attitude is general, then travel and tourism and hospitality are all going to take some pretty big hits and they're going to be fairly permanent. You got to work out what that means for your business and whether you're going to stay in that business or not. Ad agencies, not doing very much because there's not a lot of copy testing going on. But is that permanent? No. Probably not. So OK, we would take resources out of that temporarily. And I think these – what I put in these various boxes are our observations. You as a business owner may see different things going on, but we're seeing obviously face to face quant and qual is in the ditch, particularly – and that really affects the Europeans and others. On the qual side, what does that mean? Will people want to get together again in focus groups in physical locations, or is the technology sufficient that we can continue to do it by Zoom? Don't know. But data analytics, digital qual, mobile. We've been saying that mobile is – this is the year of mobile for years and years and years. It really is now, guys. So that may – that looks like it will be permanent. These are the sorts of questions you've got to ask yourself, and again, you may have a different experience from what I've put down here, but do it for yourself.
Ken Sonenclar: And when you're looking at any given industry, even industries that seem to be doing poorly, like retail, for instance. I mean not everybody is doing poorly. I mean Neiman Marcus and J. Crew are both – declared bankruptcy, but Target is doing terrifically right now. Why is that? Probably because they're allowed to sell groceries. All their stores are open. Maybe they shouldn't be allowed to sell anything else except groceries because they're selling – they're at a competitive advantage. If you want to go buy a television set, you can do it at a Target or Walmart. You can't do it at a Best Buy. But so you have to do look selectively among your clients, and if there are people, if you have expertise in certain industries, look across to see who's doing well enough to do some research and support you.
Simon Chadwick: That's a really good point.
Lenny Murphy: Totally agree, but also, even these sectors that are – so if we look at very tactically, these sectors that are down. Their need to understand the future hasn't gone away. It's just their budgets that have. So there's certainly an opportunity for companies that are offering low cost solutions, fast agile solutions, DIY solutions, to target those categories, and I suspect that – well, there's evidence that they are doing research. They're just doing it really cheap right now because your point, Simon. What does hospitality look like? What do events look like? Which is a huge function of hospitality and travel. All of those things. These hotels make their money off of events more than they do from anything else. They need to understand those questions and what those look like. So they are targets. They're just not targets for big full service research right now.
Simon Chadwick: And Lenny, to add to that, I think it's not only the need exists and can be addressed perhaps by more digital or cheaper variants of research, but this will also accelerate and make more permanent the use of multiple sources of data and the importance of analytics combined with consumer insights. And I think that's something that we're going to see mutate over the next few months within a number of different client companies, and it may well be that there will be more emphasis put on that than on primary research.
Melanie Courtright: Well, the one thing I would say though is – that I've heard a lot from consumers is they want to feel safe, but they don't want to have to constantly think about feeling safe. There can be a point where it's too much, and so I think that mystery shopping and in person research and copy testing and message testing will be really important because there will come a point where they want to be safe but not have to continually worry about being safe. So those – as we start to radically change our in store experiences and suggest that certain behaviors in the social space, there will be people who respond well and people who don't respond well. And so we will really need to bring back research, experience research, UX in store user consumer experience research, and that will have to be in person because you won't be able to test it any other way. So I think this is it permanent or is it not permanent, the question will always be what's the new norm. But I think the modes themselves will survive as long as they begin to answer the new questions.
Ken Sonenclar: Agreed.
Lenny Murphy: Sensory can only be done in person, right? For example. There's that – that type doesn't exist, and we saw two messages go out this week, one from Schlesinger and one from L&E, two very large qualitative networks. On this specific topic, we have put in these technologies in place. We have changed the layout of our facilities. We have put in these procedures in place to drive home that idea of you – it can be safe here, and that's the same thing at any building. Anybody who works in a building or if it's a government facility or anything. They're all dealing with the same stuff, right? Is that idea of safety and mitigation technologies to do that. So I totally agree, and I know in one case there's one very large CBG company that is booking in person qualitative in June and July right now. So they can't do it yet.
Melanie Courtright: The Insights Association put out reopening guidelines yesterday. If you didn't happen to see them, you should try to find them. And we're going to be doing a – hosting, a virtual town hall, specifically to restarting, reopening, restarting research, reopening facilities. I believe that's in two weeks. But so I agree with you that again the ones that do that well without overwhelming either the clients or the consumers and allow them to think without constantly being afraid because there's this delicate balance, I think they'll do well. Simon, did I interrupt you?
Simon Chadwick: No, not at all. I was nodding in agreement. It comes back to what I was saying earlier on that companies who have innovated against this rapidly are set to do well. So in the case of both Schlesinger and L&E and they were showing themselves to be innovating to enable this sort of stuff to happen, and that will sit well with clients and it will sit well with participants as well.
Melanie Courtright: So where are we innovating? What are our biggest opportunities? Lenny, maybe you can start this one.
Lenny Murphy: Boy, if I knew that, I wouldn't be worrying about the next couple months. I think we've talked about it, right? Data synthesis, and again, we've been talking about this for years. Simon and Cambiar kind of set that stage of talking about data synthesis for years. The era of the polymorph. So certainly that analytics, the leveraging, multiple data sources to – with higher predictive value, foresight, etc., etc. I think all those – none of this is new. That's the – so I don't see an opportunity for breakthrough innovation. Maybe AR/VR since we're kind of in this virtual world now. That certainly would be logical that as technology continues to evolve that that may become something that we're not just talking about as something cool that we do at an event, right? To put on the Oculus goggles, and that may become more ubiquitous at this point. But overall, I think it's just the acceleration of what we saw. Data collection is not the driver of the business. Technologies that enable data collection efficiently will do well. The ability to synthesize and make sense of the data primarily for predictive foresight, that's where – my opinion is that's where the effort needs to be spent on innovation, right? Create more and more efficiencies on how we collect data to drive better results, and I think – and importantly, and you mentioned this earlier, right now, the focus of that is to understand human behavior. So that is the critical question for all of it, everybody, is which of these changes stick. So what is short term? What is mid term? What is long term? We all have some guesses on what that looks like. If you had asked me two months ago would I be totally comfortable never going to a grocery store again, I would have laughed at you. Guess what? I am totally comfortable never going to a grocery store again. So there is no need for me to do it. So I've got five different apps that I can use to order whatever the hell I want in a minute and have it here in a few hours, right? That's probably a permanent shift. [CROSSTALK]
Melanie Courtright: For a portion of the population, right? For a portion.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. It's just convenient. We've broke the barrier. Same thing with work at home, and you mentioned that, Simon, right? We were forced to make that shift. I've worked from home for 20 years. I expect most of the world is gonna join me in that now. The – so what technologies make that more efficient? That's the point of innovation where we create efficiencies and create a value, leveraging these behavioral trends as we determine which ones stick versus which ones were just a knee jerk reaction. That's my guess.
Melanie Courtright: Ken?
Ken Sonenclar: I'm not quite as sold on the notion that what we're seeing now is the way things are going to be. I mean we're always lamenting the fact that behavior is so hard to change. I mean you want to introduce something new in a business or in any aspect of life, even in your own – in your own behavior. I want to start going to the gym or whatever. It's hard to change. It's hard – especially, it's hard to get groups of people to change their behavior. I think to some degree, it's gonna depend on how long is this going to go on for. If it ended tomorrow, which it's not going to, but if it ended tomorrow, I think we'd bounce back pretty quickly to the way we were before. I take it from what Lenny said he's not spending a lot of time at Walmart these days, but even if you go into a Walmart, it looks pretty much like it used to except people have got masks and gloves on.
Melanie Courtright: Arrows on the floor.
Ken Sonenclar: And there are arrows on the floor telling you which way to go. Half of which people –
Simon Chadwick: Ignore.
Lenny Murphy: Right.
Ken Sonenclar: But I'm not quite – I mean there is a need for the way the world was. The way – the world was the way it was for a reason. People need human interaction. I'm sort of like Lenny. I've been working at home a few days a week for the last 15 years, but nonetheless, the way things were, I think people do very much want to get back to the way they were. I just, a quick personal story. I was out last weekend, about an hour's drive from where I live up in northern Connecticut, and I – a place where I was going hiking, right nearby, there was a cafe, which seemed to be open and there were people sitting outside at tables. And I thought my God. After we're done with this hike, let's go do that. I can't wait to go do that, and when we actually got there afterwards, you had to wear gloves and it was more trouble than it was worth so we wound up not doing it. But just this urge to get back to some level of what I'll call normalcy is – I think is – people are feeling that. Within enterprises, when it comes to working more at home, I agree with Lenny and Simon that we're seeing changes. That makes sense. Those that make sense, those that can be efficient, I think very much will become part of the way we do things, and in the research industry as we've all said, we're seeing an acceleration of trends that were already in place. And if they weren't already in place, they wouldn't really be making much sense to us right now. So we're getting there faster, but still, they do have to have – they do have to make sense for us to go forward or else we're not gonna wind up doing them at all.
Simon Chadwick: I think that's – those are all very, very good points, and I think certainly just restating that a lot of these trends were in place before. The – there is one area that I think may be an innovation or an outcome of this, which is as the industry becomes more and more proficient in the use of data analytics and in the confluence of primary, secondary, and proprietary data and public data, then I think there is – there could possibly be an opportunity for some companies to expand their reach into things like HR, maybe even supply chain. Things of that nature. Because after all, the market and the consumer doesn't exist in a vacuum, and things like supply chain are going to become much, much more relevant and important. So it's possible. I'm seeing a few glimmers of that right now. And I'm not predicting it 100%, but it seems to me that we may see some companies beginning to expand their horizons.
Lenny Murphy: That's a really interesting point, Simon, that I just want to jump in real quick. Thinking about what opportunities exist. So I totally agree that supply chain, manufacturing, those things are going to boom fairly quickly and have pretty profound changes across the board. Lots of different variations of that. One of the changes are gonna be on retail commercial space. There's gonna be a whole bunch of businesses, a whole bunch of buildings sitting there empty that need to be redeployed in a new way. The gig economy. We've got 14% unemployment. We'll eventually get back to where we were, but it's not gonna happen soon. So freelancers and the freelance economy may be a big piece of that to help mitigate that, the impact. All of those things are reasonable projections, I think. But then again, I'm overly optimistic in a lot of things. But they could create real opportunities for our industry to think about because people are gonna want to understand that. There's a lot of potential, and we do it as a species. We're really good at this as a species of taking crap and turning it into something good. And right now, we're coming out of that crap phase, and there's gonna be a lot of wreckage that we have to deal with but we can repurpose those things. And that's gonna create just lots of unique opportunities for us because people are gonna need to understand what should they do and what does that mean and what's the business opportunity. So I think that's exciting. I think we're actually at a point where there's not just glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. There's some real hope and some really interesting possibilities to do some cool stuff that we've never done before. And our industry can be vital in helping to do that.
Melanie Courtright: All undergirded by this concept of what do humans need. What's their need set? What's their value set? Because while it's interesting that we've done well in this world where we've had to quarantine, there's a lot of people in the world that are in desperate need of human interaction, and so all undergirded by really good research that understands human needs, human values, segmentation, population trends, and puts it all together in that foresight and strategic thinking that you guys have all talked about. So really good. There – let me ask you guys a quick personal question. I know that the group wants to get to know each of you a little bit more. What or who has inspired you through all of this? What – where do you draw your inspiration? Simon?
Simon Chadwick: Well, I would say the person who has inspired me most during all of this is Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand. She acted swiftly. She acted very concretely. She led her country through to what seems like a new era, a virus free era, but she did it with empathy. And she is an amazing example of an empathetic leader and we need far, far more of them. We can model ourselves on how she did that.
Melanie Courtright: I love that. That's been a theme actually on most of our town halls. Even with the corporate insights departments, they talked about empathy, and in [CROSSTALK] ones, we've been talking about empathy, so that's great. Lenny, how about you? And then we'll do Ken.
Lenny Murphy: My wife. And she's not listening, so. And all the working parents in this situation. Because it's not just we work from home. Now we're home schooling. We didn't home school our kids for a reason. We knew that that was not in our skill set. And the – so this adaptation that I think we've all gone through as families of balancing a whole new definition of work home balance and keeping it all between the lines and doing things we've never had to do before. It's been really amazing, and on that note, I would also say at least in our case I'm lucky that our children, they, good lord, they rolled with this so well. It's just been amazing to watch, and it's been very inspiring of just how – just the day to day stuff of just not – just being normal in an abnormal situation. It's been deeply inspiring in my own life, and seeing it around – the people around me going through the same thing.
Simon Chadwick: To be fair, Lenny, you do have enough children to populate a school.
Lenny Murphy: But that makes it worse. There's more to juggle, right?
Melanie Courtright: I do have sincere empathy. I've watched my daughter and other families go through working full time and also trying to home school and manage the children, and men and women alike, families in general, I'm inspired by how well that they're coping. But also how they're figuring out moments to be outside and still have love and family and time and not just feel like they're stuck in a box. So that's great. Ken, how about you?
Ken Sonenclar: Well, thankfully my children are too old to need home schooling. They're all done with all their schooling I think. So that's not an issue. I – without a second thought, just have to think about all the healthcare workers. What they do is beyond my comprehension, especially here. Although I'm not physically in New York, I'm in the New York area and my office, when I go to my office, is in Manhattan. But seeing what they do and hearing the stories about what they do, frankly, I thought they were heroes before this and now they all deserve the Medal of Honor for what they're doing for all of us right now.
Melanie Courtright: Purple heart. Well, there's a fun question here from Nicholas. Well, maybe not fun, but I like the question. What keeps you awake at night? I think that there is a – in your mind have you thought about is there a way forward? What does the way forward look like? So anybody want to tackle that?
Simon Chadwick: I think the thing that keeps me awake at night, it's more general than just to this industry, this profession, is if we screw up again and we have yet another spike and this goes on and on and on, how much more damage is going to be done and will we have the ability to then recover as easily as perhaps we might do. So that's the one thing I think that has got me sort of a little discombobulated.
Ken Sonenclar: I think along the same line as Simon was saying. What really disturbs me right now is we're only, what, six, eight weeks into this. There's no – seemingly no real end in sight, and I look at the people who – this vast middle class who are essentially broke at this point and are all in line waiting to pick up free food. And what is that situation going to be eight weeks from now or 12 weeks from now? I think it's very – it's tragic, and I think we need to rethink our response. I'm just thinking about the United States here now. Our response to a situation. While there may not be many more people out of work, those people who are out of work are going to see their personal situations continue to deteriorate, and we need a better response than we've had so far.
Melanie Courtright: Lenny?
Lenny Murphy: Both, Simon and Ken, it's interesting being in Georgia. We are an experiment right now, so we'll see how that plays out. We personally have not changed our behavior despite what – that we could. We've chosen not to. So that wait and see approach, but probably the bigger one – China's pretty pissed off and everybody's pretty pissed off at China. And I don't know where that goes. So that could – there could be a whole other complicating factor emerge as a result of this, and I think we're just – we're in an interesting place geopolitically on how we do this. I hope everybody keeps some cool heads and we don't make it worse because it could. And that isn't – that's a concern for me.
Melanie Courtright: So that's about – that's a strong backdrop to what's thriving, what's not thriving, where opportunities live. There is money out there. It's careful money. It's considered money. Some of it is gone, but other places – so that's a good backdrop. I guess a final question, just for each of you. What is this one really best piece of advice that you would have for business owners, business leaders, what – with – across all of this, what's the one thing that you think business leaders need to make sure they make time for as they go through their strategic planning over the next few weeks? Ken, why don't we start with you this time?
Ken Sonenclar: I think business leaders really need to think with imagination. Throw all of your preconceived notions aside. Start with a blank sheet of paper. And take a look at the world and figure out where are the opportunities that are out there. If I'm serving an industry that is on its knees, what can I do to turn my resources toward businesses or industries that are doing a bit better in our time? And as we've all said repeatedly, not everybody is doing poorly. There are aspects of the food industry certainly that are doing quite well. The gaming industry is doing very well. Other industries are thriving right now, and if I need to – what can I possibly do to serve them? What can I do with the people I've got? What skills have they got to – that seem to accommodate the opportunities that are out there? I'm always struck, as I look, if you look back to history of companies that you encounter any day, I'm always struck at how many companies get started during recessions. If you look at it, how many companies got started in 2008? How many companies started in 2001, 2000, or before that? So opportunities there for people who think clearly, don't let themselves get burdened and held back by the legacy of where they've been. Just think imaginatively, and it can be freeing really to do that and chart a path forward. Not every trend is going to last forever. But I mean there was a piece in the Times, the New York Times, today about all of a sudden people want to move to the suburbs. They don't want to be in New York anymore. Well, this exact – that story could have been written in November of 2001 also when everybody wanted to leave New York, and so – but over time, people wanted to go back to New York. So these trends take – they're long cycles, and – but nonetheless, even the trends that you think are gonna last a year or two or three, let's think about how to take advantage of them, of them right now. And I think once again I think being creative and having some imagination is the best tools you're going to have to move forward.
Melanie Courtright: Think imaginatively. I like that. Lenny?
Lenny Murphy: I've actually been with Ken, and I was struck. Everything Ken described is my story, and Mel and Simon, you were there with me when Rockhopper, right? And we were booming, doing great, here came the recession, and most of our business was in financial services and we just took it on the chin. And I spent so much time trying to put out the fire and keep the business going until finally I realized, as Ken was saying, that there were other opportunities that I needed to look at. So BrandScan and all this things that happened as a result of that came to that advice that Ken said and I lived it. So don't get so bogged down in trying to save a business that – or a business model or aspect of a business model that maybe weren't worth saving if it wasn't a clear path forward. Instead, try and funnel that into inspiration to do something different. And that's scary. But the risks that were taken as a result of that that I took personally, so this is not pie in the sky. I lived this. Paid off, and it paid off in ways that I couldn't have anticipated then. So if you had asked, Mel or Simon, if you had asked me would I be doing what I do now when we were working together at the time of Rockhopper, I would have never believed that. No, no. What? What? Putting on events and blogging and talking to people and advising. No. I was a CEO of a company. That's what I did. So sometimes life throws you curve balls, but it can create unimaginatively cool things if you're just open to it. So I would just echo that. Be open to what may come next. So it can be really, really interesting. Don't shortchange yourself.
Melanie Courtright: I certainly think you know that I've had a journey too, and it's been a good journey. But I am nowhere where I thought I would have been in – when I was where I was at in 2008. Had it not been for some of the twists and turns, I wouldn't have been in the position I'm in right now to be able to give back and support an industry I love so much. Simon, best advice?
Simon Chadwick: I would echo what Ken and Lenny have been saying. So rather than repeat what they said, I'll take a slightly different tack. We're helping a lot of people right now in terms of how to lead through a crisis, and I think the fundamental cornerstone of leading through a crisis is that you become very, very clear about what your core values are. And whatever else you jettison and change, you do not change those core values, and you then live them and you communicate them very, very clearly to those that you lead. And you communicate that these are what are gonna drive you forward, and you set short term goals as well as long term goals that reflect those values. And I think in doing so, then you can actually get the calm to be able to do everything that Ken and Lenny were saying. But unless you do that, if you jettison those values, you're going to be floundering around. So that's what I would leave you with.
Melanie Courtright: So I would summarize everything we've all said as live your core values – lead with your core values in a new inspired, imaginative, and empathetic way, and you will do well. Great. That's fantastic. Thank you. So a really quick summary for – let me pass these slides very quickly. Just a really quick note for our participants that the NEXT conference is June 1st through the 3rd and it's online and it's free for members. And then our next town hall is on time for insights to prove business impact. It's really gonna focus on how to prove business impact. I've seen some comments here about their budgets being cut and completely zeroed out, and in this particular world, where people are trying to find ways quickly to cut money, how do you protect the insights budget. So that's what this is gonna focus on, and then again, just a reminder that Next Steps. We have a couple more of these coming up again on business impact and then on reopening, restarting research. And so thank you, Simon, Ken, and Lenny, for your time. Thank you to the participants. Again, this will be recorded and sent out, and I am really grateful to everyone who participated and to our speakers. Thank you so much.
Ken Sonenclar: Thank you.
Simon Chadwick: Thank you. Thank you, Melanie.
Lenny Murphy: Bye everybody.
Melanie Courtright: Bye everyone. Thank you.
Lenny Murphy: Stay safe. Be well.