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Podcast: Strategizing for 2022 and Beyond

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3D illustration of a conceptual maze.

In this episode of Our Best Behavior Podcast, Alex Hunt, CEO of Behaviorally, joins us to discuss the technology disruption improving insights, why the human element will always be critical, and what Behaviorally is investing in for 2022 and onward.

The Our Best Behavior Podcast is hosted by Matt Salem (Senior Vice President, Client Development).

Read more on the Behaviorally Blog (behaviorally.com/blog/).

Matt Salem

Hi everyone. I’m your host, Matt Salem, and you have tuned into another episode of our best behavior. A podcast brought to you by Behaviorally winner of the 2020 market research podcast award Behaviorally (formerly PRS) helps brands improve shopper and consumer experiences by defining and diagnosing the behaviors that drive shoppers.

Each month we produce a podcast to share industry insights on trending topics designed to help you make better shopper marketing decisions. Today we are joined by Alex Hunt, CEO at Behaviorally Alex. Great to have you on the show today.

 

Alex Hunt

Thank you, Matt. And a happy new year to you and happy new year to all of our listeners.

 

Matt Salem

Same to you. Happy new year. So, another happy occasion that I’d like to talk about. Happy birthday. So, to speak. Behaviorally (formerly PRS) hits 50 years, which is amazing. And with that one year, since the rebrand of behavior, How are you feeling about that?

 

Alex Hunt

Look, I think for any organization, it’s exciting to turn 50 or a hundred, a milestone. Most businesses have a much shorter shelf life. If you excuse for pardon in our context, then that. And I was reading something recently where the average business has a sort of seven-year life cycle before it reinvents. And so, for Behaviorally, formerly PRS, to have such longevity, I think is just credit to everyone who’s been involved in the business through such a long period of time.

What I’m most excited about, though, of course, is the future. And really, that requires us to dwell on the past year as, as Behaviorally inaugural year Behaviorally and Listeners will know. We rebranded the business almost a year ago to the day, and it’s really been quite a phenomenal year.

We’ve driven a new digital-first strategy for the whole business. We’ve grown globally from one country to five. We’ve really invested in new businesses, particularly targeted at the digital shopper. So, I think that’s really quite exciting as we look for.

 

Matt Salem

And I’m sure going through that rebrand over the past year. You’ve learned quite a lot. Is there any highlights? Would you point to one or two things, maybe something that was surprising or something that you just gravitate toward in terms of what you’ve learned throughout the rebrand of Behaviorally?

 

Alex Hunt

Two things, really. One, I think that rebranding. Suddenly gets a bit of a bad rap in the industries, and all of the rebranding stories people point to are typically the negative ones. And I think it’s really credit to our team.

That the work that we did in redesigning our new brand, as well as the phenomenal amount of storytelling that we did with our own teams and our own staff members to engage for a minute that have really made this a tremendous success. And I think the first pleasant surprise really is just how successful and how energizing it’s been for the wider organization you’re gonna have a second bit would just be, but for anyone considering that journey or that decision, I would encourage just to, to think through two things, right?

One, don’t underestimate the power of that positive story and the degree to which a brand can energize both your staff and your clients and your business. But by the same token, don’t underestimate the amount of work. And I have to say our team has done a phenomenal amount of work to make that happen. I wouldn’t take that decision lightly. Yeah.

 

Matt Salem

Good points. As you think through the past year, and you think about Behaviorally and certainly looking into the future and ensuring that Behaviorally is ready for the future of research of insights. What trends are you seeing? In the industry right now, that is leaning into the future.

 

Alex Hunt

Look, I think it is probably the most exciting time to work in the industry as entry-level people come into it. I always tell them that we’re at the intersection of some really interesting trends, right. Data, Artificial intelligence, human understanding. It’s an opportunity to enter an industry that really sits at that intersection of fascinating trends. For us, what’s going to drive growth in the industry forward. I think it’s probably three things. The first very much is the disruption caused by technology.

 Technology is going to continue to be the primary disruptor in the industry. And for me, a force for good. We have to face into the disruption that technology provides it. And it allows us to really improve very quickly. And I think going forward, the capability of insights firms and the capability of the insights function on the corporate side is going to evolve and improve continuously and evolve and improve their technology at a rate that is now parallel with other sectors. And I think know that’s something that the insights industry is really getting used to. We’ve changed a lot over the last 15, 20 years. Certainly, that I’ve been in the business, but probably slower than many other sectors and then the rate of change driven by technologies.

Disruption is now going to be a parity. I would argue with other sectors, and that’s a positive thing. It will make us better. So, technology facing into how we conduct the insights is one piece. I think the second is just technological disruption in society and with consumers that opens new opportunities. And for us, at least in our domain, it’s around the digital shelf and e-commerce we’ve seen that already be the fastest path of our business to grow. We think it’ll be at least half of our business in the years to come. And as clients invest more in gaining an advantage in the digital shelf, I think that creates new opportunities for insights companies.

What I will say is, but the dynamics of that world, the business model is very different to the dynamics of the physical world, and the solutions that win will be solutions that are built for that context versus. Solutions that are built for an analog world and then adapted for the digital world. And I think that really gives us a lot of confidence with our digital-first strategy at Behaviorally that we will be successful and become the market leader, frankly, at the digital shelf.

And then the third dynamic really making the business grow and the industry grow is talent. There’s some phenomenal people in the industry, and everybody knows it’s a hot job market at the moment, but what’s more interesting is that data is really in abundance, but humans who can really draw meaning from that and really extrapolate that meaning to. Understand why other humans are making the decisions that they’re making and link back to some sort of commercial outcome for clients or brands. I think we’ll be in hot demand for that reason. I really do think that talent is absolutely key across the insights industry as well. Certainly, it’s a core pillar of our strategy forward at that, really, of course, and we’re honored to have some of the brightest and best people, I think, in the industry.

 

Matt Salem

Well, it’s good to hear that the old-fashioned human piece will still be needed in industry, despite all the technological advances and that robots won’t be taking over anytime soon.

 

Alex Hunt

Sure, I had a friend once who was qualitative and at various points over the last several years. People have prophesized the death of the focus group, and my, my qualy friends said to me, you know, qual, Alex’s just talking to people talking to people. When is that ever not going to be needed? And I think that’s very true. Technology is relentless, it’s driving and forcing improvement and gains and capability, but they will be a human element to what we do. And it’s why making sure we have the right talent across the industry is really imperative.

 

Matt Salem

And that makes sense. So, in thinking about some of the dynamics that you’ve discussed, particularly technology and how it is relentless, and then thinking about how that impacts insights on the one hand, but the brands and the retailers that we work with day to day and how that might shape their business and how that can change the way that they need to interact with places such as Behaviorally. What else are you seeing in terms of; What our clients, our brands, retailers are going to be focusing as the industry continues to evolve?

 

Alex Hunt

Driving commercial growth. I think insights functions or clients for a long time were involved in the execution of research. That was a primary function now, with that being automated and the gains and capability corporate insight departments undoubtedly will have to drive value creation, drug growth within their businesses.

I think that will be an increased focus for them. And again, it filters down into what we’re seeing across the industry. In order to do that, they need better solutions. And we can rely on technology to help provide those in order to do that; they need solutions that are built for today’s problems, right? Which is solutions that have perhaps built for the world of digital commerce. And finally, they need talented people who can help them navigate and tell a story. And again, that goes to a wider conversation around the fact that those who can connect data with a story that drives commercial value will be of more value in the industry. And I think that’s true on both the corporate side and the supply side.

 

Matt Salem

Now, there is a lot of power in storytelling. Being able to put things, if you will, in layman’s terms so that business decisions can be made quite easily and unearthing those gems from the data it’s always going to remain important. And we’re always going to need that human piece. So, in terms of thinking about the future of Behaviorally And topics you’ve touched on in terms of e-commerce and the influence of technology on what we do. Can you give us a bit of a sneak peek, perhaps of what’s in store for Behaviorally come 2022 and beyond?

 

Alex Hunt

Sure, there’s three things ready for us this year. One is making sure that we really take all of those technological enhancements and drive better solutions for our clients. And we mean that both in our core business, so, improving our core packaging solution as an example, as well as building and launching new solutions. So, they’re really built for today’s problems going to be that of a digital shelf. And really, we are the market leader of the physical shelf. We need to stay there, and we will be the market leader of a digital shelf as well. And we are investing heavily in that area. Secondly, growth globally.

We plan to launch in five new markets during the course of 2022, beginning in Q1. And we’re excited to do that. That allows us to serve our clients locally, which is really very important. And then third. I think you can expect us to continue to enjoy the work. It’s a privilege to lead such a terrific team. One of our core values is trusting each other and assuming the best of one another, and really that’s incredibly important, and it means we can accomplish lots of great things together as a group. But most importantly, enjoy ourselves along the way as well, and enjoy working with our clients all around the world. So, thank you can always expect the Behaviorally person with a smile on their face if you’re a market research buyer in the shop of the main. So, that’s what to expect from us this year.

 

Matt Salem

Awesome. Awesome. I always like to throw in a last question of sorts and maybe keep it a little bit more personal. This is somewhat personal, somewhat professional, but noticing you sporting quite a bit of Behaviorally merch. I want to know what new merch might be coming in the year. And can I get my hands on some? How exclusive is this merch?

 

Alex Hunt

You’d have to ask our terrific marketing theme on that—the highly exclusive, probably.

 

Matt Salem

highly exclusive. Sounds right. Limited edition. You’re giving me some ideas actually for some internal giveaways, perhaps limited-edition merch, yep. All right. Alex, thanks a lot for taking time out of the day to spend here at Our Best Behavior in our podcast, and really appreciate it. I’m looking forward to all that’s coming this year in 2022. Thanks again for your time and to our audience. Thanks for listening. And we’ll catch you next time here at Our Best Behavior.

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