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I attended a great conference the other day - the MRS Consumer Health and Wellbeing Conference. I was expecting to be baffled by lots of technical jargon and impenetrable specialist content – but, instead, was struck by how the key themes were relevant to all of us in our modern lives, whether we are consumers, patients, healthcare professionals... or even insights specialists like myself!
It brought home to me how humankind is undergoing huge societal shifts that are impacting us all with ever increasing intensity.
Unsurprisingly, a key theme was the enabling power of technology. It is driving fundamental changes in how we access the information we need to make informed choices and decisions. It’s changing how we share our stories and our lives, and how we support each other. It allows us to track our activities (I’m a fitbit user and also use mapmyrun.com to keep track of my exercise); there is even an app to help people cut down on their alcohol intake and, amazingly, to help people proactively manage their cancer journey.
If we overlay major demographic changes such as an ageing population in the West, we have a complex mix of change driving our lives. And the faster the fundamental fabric of life changes, the more important it is for organisations to talk (and listen) regularly with their end-users. Whether we think of them as consumers, users, patients or physicians they are all facing a complex array of decisions and choices, some rational, and many more intuitive and emotional.
I was really encouraged by the people-centricity of the organisations who presented. They are facing up to the changes, and realise that the only way to stay relevant is by actively engaging with the people that matter to their organisations... and doing it early, and often.
It seems to me that market research is performing an important role and has a healthy future ahead of it (pun intended).