From Our CEO: Alter Agents’ 2021 Year in Review
2021 has been a year of contradictions. On the one hand, this year was about consistency – we celebrated our 11th anniversary, retained 100% of our staff, and continued to expand our revenue and our client base. But, it has also been a year of major change. Devora and I wrote a book that will be published in a few months, we relaunched our Shopper Influence Research and kicked off our Agile Neuroscience product line, we expanded our clients to include amazing brands across tech, retail, CPG, and finance. We also welcomed a new baby to the Alter Agents family, and saw several employees leave the state to work remotely.
Here’s what we’ve been up to:
Our company expanded
It was another year of growth for us. We hired three new analysts with more on the way, and have now more than doubled our size since January 2020. Our employee retention rate for 2021 was 100%, demonstrating that our growth hasn’t come at the expense of our employees and culture. That has been a key objective of mine and I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to keep all the stellar talent we’ve recruited! And we’ve expanded existing accounts while adding new clients in pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, ecommerce technology, and the fitness industry.
Our research excelled
It was a banner year for our research practice. In January, we completed our three-part report series, Facing Fear, that looked into the economic, social, and political issues affecting American consumers. The findings really shaped how we conceptualized our work and helped us guide clients to higher insights. It was important work, and I’m glad that we did it.
We launched our new Shopper Influence Research program, offering the market a new methodology that puts the shopper and their needs at the center of the research, rather than the brand. We also finished the manuscript for our book, Influencing Shopper Decisions, that lays out our theory behind the changes that our industry needs to make in order to best serve both clients and consumers.
The research we did for our clients has moved the needle. From our work with Snapchat on Augmented Reality and Sports Fandom to our data informing Audacy’s State of Audio report, we tackled big issues. We also looked into more niche, complex issues like ecommerce optimization for Tradeswell and sales tax compliance issues for TaxJar. We surveyed respondents in more than a dozen countries, collecting tens of thousands of data points and conducting expert interviews to deliver really compelling insights. I’m incredibly proud of the work our research teams did this year.
Our culture adapted
We continue to adapt as the industry and world changes around us. In June, we bid goodbye to our office in downtown Los Angeles, cementing our transition to a completely distributed work model. Being around my co-workers, playing cribbage at lunch, spending the first 30 minutes of team meetings goofing off, and seeing doggos in the office are treasured experiences. Saying goodbye to that was tough. But, I know it was the right decision for the company. Not only will we be able to use that rent and parking money towards hiring more staff, but we are allowing our employees to build their own work/life balance. Some have moved out of state, moved to more affordable areas, or stayed with family. It is exciting to think about how we will continue to grow and expand and allow for a diverse “office” experience for our staff. Plus, some of that rent money will go to hosting big events so we can all be together throughout the year. That was an emotional day for me, but it’s the right decision for our company.
Our company also adopted a new system for mental health days. Each Agent has an extra day off every month, whether they need to use it to recharge, take care of life’s issues, or meet family obligations. Collectively, we’ve taken 173 more days off in 2021 thanks to that policy, and that’s not counting standard holidays, vacation time, and sick leave. We’re a stronger company when work-life balances are in equilibrium. I’m committed to getting that right.
We also sustained our role as a leader in the research community. My position as event lead for the Los Angeles Chapter of Women in Research (WIRe) allows us to connect with our industry partners, both in Southern California and around the world. And we’ve been able to foster the discussion, fellowship, and connections that move our industry forward.
So I’m optimistic for the year ahead. 2022 is going to bring a lot of great, new things with it. Our book will publish in April, we have a full product pipeline, and we’ve got more plans to enact that will make this company an even more welcoming, compassionate, and trusting place where we can do thoughtful, informed research for our clients.
Rebecca Brooks is an entrepreneur, columnist, and mother with 20 years’ experience in the market research industry. As Founder and CEO of full-service market research consultancy Alter Agents, she feeds her inherent curiosity by uncovering the complicated paths today’s consumers take to help clients make better decisions every day. Rebecca’s passion for creating a rich, energized, and balanced work environment – while delivering exceptional quality and value – has created a true culture of collaboration at her company. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the College of William & Mary.
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