Populus reflects on another eventful year. 2018, dubbed  the year of the vegan,  saw the NHS turn 70, the introduction of GDPR, and mounting Brexit debate.

A year of firsts

The year began with the publication of our insurance whitepaper The Future of Insurance: Redefining the Sector, exploring the impact of rapidly evolving consumer lifestyles on the insurance sector.

At the turn of the year Populus Group was ranked 6th out of the top 20 growing agencies in the MRS League Tables. This year, Populus continues to grow as recognised by awards and nominations. Populus received the Silver Investors in People accreditation, an internationally recognised accreditation which sets the standard for better people management. Populus was also nominated for the Best Presentation at the MRS Annual Conference Awards. And, Populus’s Managing Director Gary Muncaster, chaired and presented at a session on Understanding Your Customers at Utility Week Live.

Health high on the agenda

In a bid to tackle the January Blues, we published a new infographic exploring the ways in which the UK public tackle the Monday Blues – According to the research, 16% will buy themselves a treat (the same percentage as those who will eat junk food). Despite the hype, just 10% will go to the gym to feel better on a Monday. Worth remembering as that time of the year again approaches.

Health was a recurrent topic throughout 2018. In March, we took a detailed look at the Londoners’ attitudes to workplace health, finding that 1 in 10 Londoners arrive home from work exhausted, every day. Throughout the first quarter of the year, our NHS Tracker undertook regular tracking of public opinion regarding the NHS, exploring satisfaction and attitudes of the standard of care provided.

By May, despite the rumbling of Brexit negotiations that peppered the whole of 2018, almost half (45%) of people stated that they believe the NHS will “continue to provide a comprehensive service, free at the point of care, in 10 years’ time”. By the middle of the year, Home Secretary Sajid Javid had announced that medicinal cannabis was to be legalised. Previous Populus research had uncovered public  and MPs’ views on the legalisation of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.

The year of data protection

On 25 May 2018, the long-awaited GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation regulation came into force. Populus explored business owners and consumer attitudes to GDPR, finding that a vast majority (89%) of the UK public had concerns about their data as a result of the Facebook/ Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Younger generations appear to be most concerned by GDPR with Populus research presented at The Exchange Lab, unveiling that over three quarters of 16-34 year olds say it doesn’t go far enough. However, only 11% admit to carefully considering before accepting cookie banners.

Brexit reigns throughout 2018

By the middle of the year, attention was quickly turning to Brexit, as the UK rapidly approaches the date it is due to leave the EU – 29 March 2018. Populus charted the public’s attention to the subject throughout the year, which was 2018’s top most noticed news story.

With PM Theresa May leading ongoing negotiations with Brussels and a Brexit deal being released that the many members of parliament rejected, from both the Conservative Party and the Opposition Parties, the end of the year saw a spike in the number of people citing Brexit as their most noticed news story.

The world watched on as the UK’s Brexit saga unfolded, placing renewed significance on the UK’s reputation abroad. In July 2018, we repeated our 2015 research into British icons and their global influence, finding that the Premier League tops the icon index for positively influencing attitudes towards the UK.

Looking outward

Populus pushed the boundaries for industry-leading global research in 2018. Populus research for Inmarsat looked across 32 different markets and found that at a global level in-flight Wi-Fi was viewed positively and can drive customer loyalty towards airlines.

Towards the end of the year, we published research exploring global views of teaching across 35 countries, on behalf of The Varkey Foundation, a global charitable foundation focused on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children. The Varkey Foundation has since been able to develop the Global Teacher Status Index 2018, an index of teacher status by country.

Looking ahead

Throughout 2018, Populus continued to push the boundaries of innovation. Following last year’s launch of the UK’s first ever Virtual Reality market research panel, which last year showed high participant engagement rates, Populus developed and conducted the world’s first ever in-home biometric survey.

The research, carried out on behalf of Formula 1, uncovered implicit fan reactions to a live Grand Prix race, with the view to optimise future broadcasting. The study presents significant opportunities for any sector that relies on long-form content, such as radio, advertising and sports. Populus, worked with Populus Data Solutions, and with their technology partner MindProber, to bridge the gap between touch and technology. The findings were later presented at the UK Sports Analytics Conference 2018 in November.

Populus unlocks the Critical Knowledge that we all need to better understand the world around us. In a world flooded with data, and in these changing, challenging times, becoming equipped with insight that drives action, is imperative.

2019 is set to be another busy year of innovation and development, as we continue to equip clients with the tools and expertise required to continue to meet changing consumer demands in our ever-changing world. 

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