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GreenBook Blog provides original insight into the challenges faced by the market research industry today.
To start 2014 out right we're revealing the Top 10 from the GRIT 50 list of the companies the industry considers to be most innovative.
For this report, the analysis is based on 2,229 completed interviews, with 80% of respondents identifying themselves as Suppliers and 20% as Clients, broadly consistent with the last several waves of the study. Beginning in 2010 we decided to start tracking which firms were perceived as most innovative within the global market research industry.
1.       Using an unaided awareness verbatim question, we ask respondents to list the three companies they considered to be most innovative.
3.       Finally we ask another verbatim as to why they consider their number 1 ranked firm to be most innovative. For this wave, using the aggregate of the 1-3 ranking question we developed a list of 991 companies in total, with 304 that received multiple mentions.
Due to issues around consolidation and multiple brands within a single entity (Kantar for instance with Millward Brown, TNS, Added Value, etc…) we are presenting the Top 50 in 2 ways: without brand rollups which is based solely on the companies mentioned with no consideration given to parent company ownership or affiliation, and with brand rollups, where we have consolidated all appropriate business entities under the parent brand.
Upon analysis we realized that we didn’t have a list of the “Most Innovative Companies”; rather we have a ranking of which companies do the best job as being perceived as innovative via their marketing efforts. In total, over 170 companies were mentioned, although many of those were only reported once.
First, let’s look at the “Top 10? companies most often mentioned as being considered innovative. Interval variables included in the analysis included questions asked among both supplier side and client side researchers in various areas including type of research most often conducted, where research information is typically sought, and types of supplier attributes they value. Synovate and Vision Critical on the other hand in the bottom right quadrant may appeal more to researchers who are less concerned with pedigree, they may in fact be new to research themselves. Furthest toward the upper left, Nielsen's fans seem to value a little more experimentation, perhaps because Nielsen is so established this adds comfort to exploring new techniques. In a way, I think this chart shows us how researchers view themselves, and with what firms they most identify.
There will be more analysis in the GRIT report and we'll explore these issues, as well as a host of others, there. Leonard “Lenny” Murphy has been in the Market Research industry for over a decade in various senior level roles, most notably as CEO of full service agency Rockhopper Research, CEO of tech-driven start-up BrandScan360, and Senior Partner of strategic consultancy Gen2 Advisors. A major aspect of his work focuses on collaborating with multiple organizations to help advance innovation and strategic positioning of the market research industry, most prominently as the Editor-in-Chief of the GreenBook Blog and GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report, 2 of the most widely read and influential publications in the global insights industry.
He lives in Atlanta, GA with his 5 (yes, 5!) children, Should- be-Sainted wife, dog and a clinically insane cat.
Actually, neither BrainJuicer or Peanut Labs were sponsors of the survey nor did they contribute sample in any way so I don’t see where there is any bias possible. We prefer to think that researchers answered the question honestly and named those companies that are top of mind in terms of being perceived as innovative, and as we discussed in our analysis that is much more a measure of branding effectiveness than anything else. An interesting list but I am surprised that you have not included Forethought research based in Melbourne, Australia. As a business instructor I’d like to discuss a confidential business idea with Leonard Murphy. Neilson compiles lists for all sorts of groups of people and breaks down the types of media they engage with most.
Now I’m not sure what immediate need this fills, but I suspect Steve Jobs would be spending his time at Disney if he were still around.
Our company offers a product that can target survey respondents in any country and any age group, at $1 per respondent. Explosive Growth Of Smartphones: What’s In Store For Marketers, Advertisers And Researchers? These are the Top 50 firms submitted by GRIT respondents as the most innovative in the industry. Since so many folks are interested in this section of the GRIT Report specifically, here is an excerpt on the 50 companies that are perceived to be most innovative. Using an unaided awareness verbatim question, we asked respondents to list the three companies they considered to be most innovative. Finally we asked another verbatim as to why they considered their number 1 ranked firm to be most innovative.
Using the aggregate of the 1-3 ranking question we developed a list of 84 companies that received multiple mentions. Last year we presented this list as a rank ordered analysis, and in prepublication releases of the findings we initially did the same.
During the analysis we encountered the need to develop a framework to guide our coding scheme due to the complex ownership relationships between many of these brands, their marketing positioning by business units, the visibility of key individuals associated with the brands, and merger and acquisition activity within the industry. If a company has two trade names used within multiple markets, both brands will be counted. Since this question is meant to understand how market research firms are leveraging the brand attribute of innovation within their marketing efforts it’s instructive to look at how the most highly rated firms achieved this feat.
Of course, BrainJuicer remains the master of this art; at every turn they make innovation the underlying. Based on a quick review of press releases and news articles about these firms in 2011 they maintained a steady flow of announcements about their own innovation efforts (particularly around mobile and social media) and obviously those efforts are paying off in how the industry perceives them.
Thanks to the input of several colleagues, especially Renee Smith, Global CRO of Kantar, we’ve been looking at the data a few ways and that has informed our analysis of what the story (or stories) are regarding this list. As we did in the 2010 report, we conducted a discriminant analysis plotted on a quadrant map to look at the relationship between attitudes around market research by those who selected a company as being most innovative. Where multiple companies were mentioned, the company that was mentioned first was selected as the target variable.


How to read the chart: For example, those who selected Anderson Analytics (OdinText) were more similar in their attitudes toward market research to those who selected GfK, Nielsen and Millward Brown. Affinnova was viewed as firmly quantitative as well as experimental, although not so much that respondents with a more traditional bent could not understand and embrace their offering.
Those who selected Kantar, Communispace, Insites Consulting and BrainJuicer tended to be open to experimentation and were more qualitatively oriented.
Overall, this type of attitudinal analysis should be considered directional in how brands are currently perceived and may offer some insight into how they can more effectively target their brand messaging from their established perceptual base. As a follow-up to the company listing exercise we asked GRIT respondents to tell us why they selected their personal first ranked company as innovative.
Contributors from both sides of the table share their expertise and offer unique perspectives on a wide variety of issues, both strategic and tactical.
To start 2014 out right we’re revealing the Top 10 from the GRIT 50 list of the companies the industry considers to be most innovative. This has evolved into The GRIT 50 Most Innovative list, which at its core is simply a brand tracker using the attribute of “innovation” as the key metric. There is an incredible wealth of data to explore, and many of the findings are provocative (if not downright shocking!). Research professionals who participated in the study were recruited from various sources including the GreenBook member directory, direct email invitations to sponsor contact lists as well as open recruiting through several social media research groups and social sites. We did that both through looking at technology adoption and attitudes towards methodologies, but also via asking respondents to list the market research firms that first come to mind when they think of innovative market research companies. In order to truly rank companies by their innovation efforts another series of scoring dimensions will need to be added to the 2011 edition of the GRIT study and we are considering that option now. That is the analysis that we are digging into now, and I wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of our preliminary findings to help spur conversation on what really drives both innovation and the perception of innovation.
We decided to only focus on firms mentioned at least 4 times, which left us with a nice list of 50 companies that are making a positive impression among their peers regarding their innovation positioning.  For purposes of multivariate analysis, we have chosen to focus on the Top 10, although we will publish the list of all 50 companies in the forthcoming report.
These firms are doing the best job in branding themselves as innovative research companies globally.
Discriminant analysis was conducted among those researchers who mentioned any of the top 10 most frequently mentioned firms. Factors that loaded heavily on this second dimension (X-Axis) included researchers opinion on sources where they typically look for information on research firms such as conferences, journals, trade associations as well as blogs and social media. Both of these companies have some very interesting non traditional approaches to research.In addition, both are masterful marketers and stay "on message" via all their marketing channels.
Look for that to come out in the next few weeks; we think you'll find the results highly actionable, intriguing, and compelling! Murphy is a key consultant to numerous insight-focused organizations on both the supplier and client side and an advisor to several technology focused start-ups via his consulting practice. Only Anderson Analytics was a sponsor who showed up on the Top 10 list, and since Tom’s Next Gen Market Research group has over 10,000 members it would be simply impossible to remove that population from the sample; that is a huge chunk of the market research industry! From that perspective these results make perfect sense, including the inclusion of Anderson Analytics. The clarity in your put up is just great and that i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Look them up & actually see what leading the way on innovative research is actually about. I think that people do some secondary research anyway but often forget the primary part of it. At last I got a webpage from where I can in fact obtain valuable information concerning my study and knowledge. Submissions & Voting Are Open for the Insight Innovation Competition at IIeX North America 2016! The goal of this avenue of inquiry is to glean insight on the drivers of perception around what makes a firm innovative in order to understand how MR firms are capitalizing on the idea of “innovation” to grow their businesses.
Last year we came up with a list of the Top 50 Market Research Firms Perceived to be Innovative to much fanfare by the industry. However, upon consultation with multiple industry colleagues, most notably the Chief Research Officers of several firms represented within the analysis, we have decided not to assign a rank. We consider these guidelines to be dynamic and flexible to an extent, but in general we found that we were able to apply them successfully in most cases. In this iteration of GRIT we saw the prevalent mention of several client-side organizations including Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola. Since this question was posed as a verbatim response, spelling concerns occasionally came into play.
These firms really drove the conversation across multiple channels in 2011 and their branding continues to pay dividends for them in the minds of the industry. We keep coming back to one central theme: the companies listed are masters of social marketing, and this idea helps explain how relatively small, new entrants onto the list compete effectively for mind share with large multinational firms. The goal of the analysis was to determine if attitudinal predispositions impacted how brands were perceived when it comes to the “innovation” attribute. Discriminant analysis was run to understand how best to predict the profile of respondents who would consider firms as being most innovative.
We interpret that as while these respondents are open to research innovation they tended to favor more traditional, validated methods and were somewhat more likely to favor quantitative approaches. Additionally they seemed to feel speed of deliverables was of greater importance than other factors.
This section is always of keen interest to the MR industry and this little appetizer is sure to get folks excited about the main course of the complete GRIT report.
The main purpose of the discriminant analysis is to predict group membership, in this case the values research professionals who selected a brand as innovative are likely to share.


We are looking at those research professionals whom these companies have moved enough to say that "company XYZ is innovative". Thus, their perception in the marketplace indicates a high degree of success with their brand messaging strategy. While Anderson Analytics is a newer company clearly advocating a newer methodology (text analytics) the firm still seems to appeal to researchers who value traditional established brands. He is involved with numerous organizations including the Insight Innovation Exchange, The ARF, NY AMA, NewMR & MRGA. But I think we have a strong bias in this survey here and I am a little surpised this wasn’t mentioned in the article. Well along with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to keep updated with impending post. The only feedback they take about their business idea is from themselves and their families which is not relevant though.
We believe that this list, developed by our peers within the industry, is a true measure of how successfully these companies are leveraging this brand attribute.
That list was compiled by a simple open-ended unaided awareness question: which MR firms do you consider to be most innovative? We are simply going to report the findings in descending order from most mentions to least. We suspect this may have to do with senior leaders from those brands being highly visible within the industry promoting research innovation. While in almost all other cases it was fairly easy to reconcile these issues, in the case of one firm it was not: InSites Consulting.
They were listed almost twice as often as the next highest ranking firm, making them the clear owners of the “market research innovation” message. A total of 19 firms debuted on this list in 2011, with many of them being small strategic consultancies that owe much of their DNA to advertising agencies more so than traditional market research firms.
Factors which were more important include speed of deliverables, importance of quantitative, importance of qualitative and general value of research to name just a few. A full quarter of respondents state that offering innovative or new methodologies was the primary driver of perception, followed a by a diverse mix of stated reasons that focused on various techniques, services, and brand strengths—of which no single mention garnered more than 10%, with most being less than 5%. Can it be that is what customers want now, either more qualitative or more experimental research? We believe that this list, developed by our peers within the industry, is a true measure of how successfully these companies are using “innovation” to help drive brand awareness. I know many of these companies are doing innovative work, but I also wonder how many made the list simply because respondents associate larger brands with innovation as a default assumption vs. He also Chairs and produces conferences globally in collaboration with other leading organizations, and speaks about the future of insights and how to deliver maximum business impact at many events annually. Both, brainjuicer and peanut labs were among the sponsors of the survey and were mentioned along the invitation process and if I recall right even had their logo in the header of the survey. Anytime I think of Marketing Research Companies, Neilsen is honestly what comes to mind first. Prophecy exceed anything I have seen in the marketplace and i have been in this industry a very long time. We believe that this list, developed by our peers within the industry, is a true measure of  how successfully these companies are leveraging this brand attribute.
We believe this decision will allay some of the “horse race” aspects of this question while allowing all interested parties to clearly see the strength of their brand within the context of innovation. A more challenging example was Google, which would have been in the lower tier had we counted them.
These newer players are akin to Generation Z consumers; they are “digital natives” who understand how to leverage various tools and channels to promote their brand. Labels which most closely reflect those variables that loaded more heavily on the respective X and Y axis have been added. Millward Brown) but others that were listed seprately last year may have been coded under Kantar this year.
We also believe this decision will give us freedom in the future as we refine the method used to collect these data. Ultimately we decided that although Google has been making some inroads into the market research space we would not include them until that offering was more clearly defined. We also had Insight Consulting listed 10 times, and since there is an MR firm known as Insights Consulting we had no choice but to list them as well. It will be interesting to see how these firms grow in both brand recognition and market share in the future.
However, since this is a list based on perception, I have to wonder how much of their position is an artifact of respondent expectations rather than actual knowledge. We think so; Anderson Analytics's overall brand positioning appeals to the risk averse and traditional MR respondent. This begs the question for future surveys of how we define market research, as we fully expect to see more new entrants that may not fit the classical definition of MR entering into the consciousness of the research marketplace. It is entirely possible that spelling played a role here and that InSites may have actually garnered more mentions, but we have chosen to accept respondent answers at face value and are reporting both in their corresponding position within the list.



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