CUBE in 2023: a shifting main focus, but also a lot of continuity

What are CUBE’s plans for 2023? Which initiatives and collaborations are in the pipeline? And how will the sector actually evolve? No one better to address those questions than president Tom De Ruyck. “The emphasis shifts towards demonstrating the value of insights and foresights: in uncertain times, these are needed more than ever.”

“In 2022, the gigantic need for talent was a key focus for CUBE,” says president Tom De Ruyck. “In an industry that regained its pre-covid levels and even continued to grow, there was, as elsewhere, a certain tightness in the labour market. That is why last year we focused heavily on talent acquisition and talent development, attracting new young talent and upskilling the current people in the industry.”

In the coming months, CUBE intends to continue the initiatives launched last year. However, the main focus will be tweaked. “The emphasis shifts towards demonstrating the value of insights and foresights: these are needed more than ever in the broad community of marketing and business, as the uncertain and fast-changing times bring a lot of challenges.”

Closer collaboration with BAM

“That central focus translates into an even closer cooperation with BAM,” explains Tom De Ruyck. “This year, the marketing association is aiming for a more diversified content program: there will not only be one large and one smaller conference, but also lots of networking opportunities, with one central speaker each time, and webinars in between. We want to use those events as a platform to showcase the value of insights and foresights in today’s context.” And therefore, CUBE will soon launch a call for speakers, targeting members who can fill in these slots with interesting content.


In 2023, CUBE also plans to expand its educational opportunities. “The training we have worked out around talent development will also be available this year. Furthermore, we will organize in-company training courses, aimed at both our members and all kinds of companies and organizations that want to upskill their employees through our tailor-made training on the basics of or novelties in market research.”

“We also have a partnership with our Dutch colleagues from MOA, who provide a very comprehensive program with two training sessions per week. CUBE members can register for that at the regular rate, and on top of that they will be offered a free night in Amsterdam. This will hopefully allow us to send a lot of people to the Dutch capital in order to expand their knowledge.”

YES program

Last year, CUBE also created the YES program, which literally made young people say ‘yes’ to market research. This initiative will be given a follow-up in 2023. “The focus was mainly on enthusing that pool of talent, now we really want to get the program going. Specifically, those young people can become part of our community for free and attend all the events. By doing so, we really introduce them to the profession.”

Mood indicator

A final important aspect of CUBE’s plans, is the mood indicator, which measures the state of the Belgian research sector twice a year. “This will be an important moment: the previous one signaled that the majority of people in the industry were looking at the near future in a positive way, but is that still the case now that the economic context has changed a lot in a short time due to inflation and the impending recession?”

“There are in fact signs that some companies in the industry, which has just recovered from the pandemic, are struggling a bit in the current climate. That raises several questions. How does the industry look at that? How broadly does the impact of the changed context stretch, and is everyone feeling it to the same extent? And, not unimportantly, is it perceived as something temporary or structural? We are looking forward to the results and hope to present and discuss the report at our annual members’ meeting in early May.”

Tech-enabled consultative agencies

Asked about a possible emerging trend in 2023, Tom De Ruyck mainly thinks of an evolution in a trend that has been going on for some time. “On the one hand, there is everything that has to do with technology, which is deployed by both companies and research agencies, and on the other hand, there is a side of the sector that is more about insights and advice. That dichotomy is not new, but the client side is starting to realize that technology is not the holy grail after all.”

“Today, the market really needs consultants to help with the strategic part. Nevertheless, many of these parties acting as consultants obviously use a lot of technology in-house. I would call them tech-enabled consultative agencies: they acquire data and insights through technology, but then they rely heavily on their consulting skills to effectively do something with these insights.”

That those two elements seem to be merging today on the agencies’ side is not without consequences for the industry, according to the CUBE president. “Agencies actually have to bet on two horses and work with both aspects. Two aspects that are not always so easy to unite, as well. A big challenge, especially if you have to achieve this transformation in an industry where things are not all sunshine and rainbows anyway.”