It is an understatement that 2020 has been a worrisome year. When looking at 2020 in review, many of us have felt uncertain about our health and work since the COVID-19 crisis first began. In March, when stay-at-home orders were issued, we braced ourselves as if we were heading down a roller coaster ride. Like many businesses, Martec hunkered down and vowed to lean into our agility and resilience. These qualities helped us weather past situations like the dot-com crash, 9/11, and the 2008 housing crisis.
Now, with glimmers of hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be offset by vaccine distribution in the near future, we still decided to challenge ourselves to report on the silver linings 2020 has brought.
Silver lining no. 1: Technology
Where would any of us be today without Zoom, WebEx, Skype, Slack, and all the other digital connectors we use to stay in touch – with our coworkers and family, too. It was fortuitous that in early 2019 we onboarded new platforms for office communications, online focus groups and bulletin boards, AI transcriptions, interactive insights workshops, passive social data, and more. As it turns out, these efforts ended up exceeding our expectations. More importantly, internet technology enabled us to stay connected and continue operating remotely. From “essential” to every business, finding new ways to operate, and doing so quickly, was perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Silver lining no. 2: Agility
To date, nothing has made the global economy pivot faster. Some industries have experienced booms; others are discovering new ways to adapt. Organizations that have remained nimble during this crisis are seeing positive results. Market research and consulting organizations must continue to be flexible, buoyant, and have a plan to pivot and pivot again if necessary. Agility is the one quality we see time and time again that works during uncertain times.
Silver lining no. 3: Hopes for the Future
Very broadly, Martec supports organizations looking for:
- Management consulting
Both are equally essential, but both have seen divergent fallout from 2020 events. However, we’re starting to see some pre-COVID trends get back on track. We’re also recognizing that some pandemic-induced consumer behaviors likely will continue for the long term.
On the insights side of our research, we have witnessed retail goliaths re-evaluate their reliance on brick-and-mortar stores and elevate their online presence and user experience. With record numbers of consumers shopping online, there will be a great amount of tactical data to mine and use effectively. Also, with vaccines bringing hopes of things returning to “normal,” will brick-and-mortar businesses be ready?
Additionally, travel, tourism, and hospitality industries were hit hard during the pandemic. What will these industries look like in a post-COVID world? Is a boom on the horizon? Are there efficiencies to be investigated? There are questions still to be answered, and research can help organizations stand ready.
On the flip side, will the gains experienced by businesses focused on home environments, food & beverage, DIY solutions, and contactless payment continue to grow? According to recent GreenBook industry leadership roundtables, there is growth in automotive research, particularly aftermarket e-retailing, electric hybrids, and recreational vehicles. RVs have been hot in 2020 – with record-high sales because people still want to travel while tourism and hospitality services are restricted.
GreenBook roundtables also addressed research opportunities for the gig economy, spirits, and healthcare—particularly telehealth and medications via mail. There is much research to be done regarding telehealth, which seems to be highly satisfying to many consumers. Home therapy options, like peritoneal dialysis, have seen growth and progress during 2020. Questions to ask going forward include: What are the best methods? What are the dos and don’ts? How do you handle testing?
In terms of management consulting, Martec has seen growth in private equity opportunities, technology, and simply the unknown. The demand for research is growing because industries and consumer behaviors shifted quickly during the pandemic. We’re helping to answer questions like: How have industry changes impacted leading companies? Are aspects of the “new normal” here to stay? Will consumers stay at home more often? Or, will there be pent-up demand to go out? Will DIY trends continue? Which service sectors will rebound?
2020 in review has been the year to ask “why” but to go with the flow and spend more time at home with those closest to us. The pandemic of 2020 challenged us all. Yet, without it, we may never have realized how resourceful we all are. 2020 has shown us that being able to think fast and be flexible can lead to a brighter future.