Research Industry Study Reveals Pronounced Differences between Clients and Suppliers on Innovation
Yesterday the new GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report was released. With a sample of nearly 3,000 research professionals, the GRIT study evaluates more than 700 research companies as well as corporate departments—producing lists ranking the Top 50 and Top 25 Most Innovative, respectively. GRIT also looks at important industry issues and trends like automation, the future of sampling, educating the next generation of researchers, and the financial state of the industry. It has become one of the most influential reports in the market research industry today.
(I was especially pleased to see OdinText placed quite well, and those of you who are interested can read more about that here.)
All of the companies named to the Top 50 and Top 25 Most Innovative on the GRIT Report are worth a closer look. These are the research providers and clients, respectively, that working professionals in the market research industry perceive to be the most forward-thinking and innovative players in the field of insights.
This year Lenny Murphy, GreenBook Blog Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the GRIT Report asked OdinText to run the unstructured responses from the GRIT survey to provide additional insights and visualizations.
You can find more of these in the GRIT Report, but today I want to share two visualizations that I found particularly interesting.
Top 10 Market Research Clients and Suppliers
I found the co-occurrence of client-side organizations vis-à-vis supplier side firms quite telling…
How to Read the Chart
In the chart above, company nodes are represented as larger or smaller depending on how frequently they were mentioned by market researchers. A firm on this chart appears in close proximity to another firm if it was frequently mentioned together with that other firm by respondents. And the color coding (key on left), represents how often a firm was mentioned by either a client-side researcher or a supplier-side researcher. The more Red a node/firm is, the more likely it is to have been mentioned primarily by client-side researchers, whereas the more green a firm is, the more likely it is to have been mentioned primarily by supplier side researchers.
What does the chart tell us?
Well, we have at three distinct clusters here. In the bottom-right corner we have the traditional Honomichl Top 4—the really big suppliers. Nielsen and Ipsos are mentioned most often among these four, and somewhat more equally by both suppliers and clients, whereas Kantar and GfK are mentioned more often by supplier-side researchers.
Then, very far from these large research firms on the left side, we have major client-side tech companies: Google is most mentioned, followed by Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. All of these are of course extremely innovative in their own rights; however, I believe they were also more likely to be mentioned in this survey because many are already in more ways than one important to marketing researchers.
For instance, more and more marketing researchers, both client and suppliers, have begun using the fast and inexpensive Google Consumer Surveys. This may be why Google is biggest, and is more brownish in color than the others (mentioned more equally by both client- and supplier-side researchers). Of course, the data these firms collect on consumers, and the roles they play in advertising and ad tracking also make them important to us. Finally, many like Google and Amazon offer cloud services (OdinText, for instance, resides on the AWS server system), and Google, Amazon and Microsoft all offer various other cloud computing services including machine translation, NLP and machine learning. (Notice, by the way, that IBM is conspicuously absent from this cluster chart.)
Looking toward the upper middle of the chart, we have a mix of companies. Notably, Research Now—the only panel provider in this group—is almost an outlier or singleton and places almost midway in proximity to the Honomichl Top 4 in the lower right. Smack in the middle of this upper-middle cluster is the recently renamed BrainJuicer, now System1 Group. They did remarkably well considering their rebranding, and were mentioned nearly as often for their new name as for their old one. And just as Reseach Now was closest to the Honomichl Top 4 cluster, OdinText, which, of course, is a Software-as-a-Service provider, appears closest to the tech companies in the lower left.
The mix of firms here in this top middle cluster is a bit more varied than the bottom left and right clusters. The marketing research suppliers—including System1, Insites Consulting, ZappiStore and LRW—tend to be mentioned more often by marketing research suppliers as being innovative. Client-side firms P&G and Nestle, being mentioned frequently by both suppliers and clients, skew a bit more reddish in color and are top of mind as being innovative by somewhat more client-side researchers.
What Qualifies a Company as “Innovative”?
Innovative is, obviously, a subjective metric, but an interesting question, and one that text analytics answered instantly with the simple visualization below.
WHY TOP 10 MOST INNOVATIVE SUPPLIER SIDE FIRMS WERE MENTIONED
This chart contains terms frequently used to describe why companies were seen as innovative. The y-axis here denotes frequency of mentions (also represented by size of node); the x-axis reflects whether a term was more likely to be mentioned by a client-side researcher (toward the left and in red) or a supplier (toward right and in green).
Immediately we see some big differences in terms of what clients and suppliers associate with being innovative. “Technique,” for example, is used almost exclusively by suppliers, whereas “speed” is used almost exclusively by clients. (In other words, as far as clients are concerned, to be fast is to be innovative.)
Many other differences also emerge in the topics and terms that suppliers and clients think about in relation to innovation. For instance, while suppliers associate things like mobile-friendly surveys and other more solution-based descriptors with innovation, clients think about innovation in terms like “ability,” “thinking,” “leading,” and “creative.”
Also noteworthy is that the single most popular attribute with regard to innovation among suppliers is technology. Perhaps ironically, this is not the way clients seem to perceive innovation; they instead note methodology.
That is good news to me, as I’ve always felt technology is only as useful as it is practical. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!
About Tom H. C. Anderson
Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the “Four under 40” market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010.
Clients want the companies they decide to partner with to have what it takes (ability) to get the job done (methodology) quickly (speed).They don’t care what goes on behind the curtain. Interesting finding.