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The Top 30 Most Influential Trade Orgs & Information Channels in MR: GRIT Sneak Peek



Note: a previous (and incorrect) version of this ranking was published as a “sneak peek” on GreenBook Blog. Due to some feedback we received by readers and our own internal QA process, we decided to double check the original coding and take it through a third level of validation. During that process we did discover some inconsistencies in how the original coding was applied. The issue was primarily around the original coders double counting multiple mentions within a single response, or due to misspellings and assigning codes erroneously.

We apologize for that confusion and offer thanks to various commentators who suggested we take another look. 

This has produced a revised list of most influential organizations, or at least their rankings by number of mentions; the organizational list itself didn’t change. In looking at the top 5 for instance: ESOMAR retained their number 1 ranking while the number of mentions for them went down, GreenBook slipped to number 3 with a reduced count as well and LinkedIn took the 2nd spot with more mentions. AMA moved up but with fewer mentions than previously reported, Quirks went up in both rank and counts. From there the top 20 shuffled places, some going up, and some down.  We decided to only list those organizations with 20 or more mentions overall.  

The information here is definitive and has been crosschecked by Numbers, Inc. and Bottom Line Analytics to ensure consistency. The full list with original mentions can be accessed via the GRIT dashboard, which will be released next Tuesday. If you use the Explore mode in the dashboard you can click on any chart and then use the Cells button to select the counts (i.e., n).


Recently we’ve been examining the concept of influence here on GreenBook blog in a series of posts focused on the definition and process of measuring individual influence. The results prompted quite a bit of debate, mostly due to the wide variety of approaches (and disparate results) used in those analyses. However, what was not in doubt was the underpinning that the idea of influence, and even more importantly how it is used, has real business implications.

Today we’re tackling the idea again, but rather than using social data, we’re treading on more familiar ground for most researchers and relying on survey data.  To be precise, data from the upcoming GRIT Report.

For the third time, the GRIT study included questions about influential industry trade bodies and information channels (support organizations). The full results will be detailed in the upcoming report being published next week, but we thought it would be interesting to share a sneak peek of this highly interesting section before we release the report.

Let’s put it out there: it may be seen as self-serving for an organization like GreenBook to include questions related to our own role within the industry into GRIT.  We do it because we believe it’s valuable for researchers to understand how different organizations and information channels contribute to the market research industry and profession, each in its own way. Since we’re one of those organizations, of course we are curious as to our positioning, but whether we were number 1 or 100 in the rankings (we’re neither of those!) we believe it’s beneficial for suppliers, clients, and the supporting organizations themselves to get a glimpse of where they stand and how they are perceived. Consider it a brand tracker for industry support organizations.

Because we always take some flack for this piece of GRIT from certain quarters, before we get into the data  a few notes for the sake of transparency are in order.

GRIT authorship is a collaborative effort with many participants, but due to the perhaps controversial nature of these findings, specifically the inclusion of GreenBook in the rankings, we feel it’s important to identify the analysts and authors here. Data for this section were collected as top of mind responses, and the following analysis was based solely on coded verbatims. Coding was performed by GMI and Bottom Line Analytics. Additional analysis was conducted by Ellen Woods of Gen2 Advisors and Masood Akhtar of Bottom Line Analytics. Ray Poynter and Lenny Murphy contributed as advisors solely in ensuring organizational “rollups” (meaning multiple sub brands of a brand were coded as one like GreenBook, IIeX, Lenny Murphy, etc.. were all coded as “GreenBook”) we’re counted and categorized correctly.

The design here was as simple and straightforward as we could make it. We asked GRIT participants a series of verbatim and ranking questions:

  1. List the professional and/or trade associations, business event organizers, blogs or professional social network groups relevant to the marketing or marketing research industry you are a member of, pay attention to, or contribute to (up to 7).
  2. Which do you consider to be the most influential to your strategic decisions?
  3. What is the main factor that makes them stand out for you as influential?
  4. Which do you consider to be the second most influential to your strategic decisions?
  5. Which do you consider to be the third most influential to your strategic decisions?

In total 129 organizations were mentioned with a cumulative count of 2,461 distinct mentions. The absolute base size was 703.  About 50% of the respondents were from North America, and the other half were predominately from Europe, with a small sub set from Asia Pac and EMEA.

Sample came from a variety of partners and here is the breakdown by source:


GRIT respondents


It’s important to note that of the sample providers only GreenBook, Research & Results, QRCA, NGMR and NewMR appear within the list of most influential organizations.  We believe this adds great credibility to the results. However, as with all aspects of the GRIT report, the reader should take into account the composition of the participants when interpreting and generalizing the findings.  The data is what it is; the interpretation is what you make of it.

With all caveats covered, the table shows the top 20 organizations, in order of their cumulative mentions.  Other organizations had fewer than 20 mentions. In total 129 organizations were mentioned with a cumulative count of 2,461 distinct mentions. The absolute base size was 713.


LinkedIn 167
Greenbook 166
AMA 116
Quirk’s 107
BVM 106
MRA 88
ARF 67
Research & Results 51
newMR 49
IIR/TMRE 44 43
MR WEB/Daily Research News 32
Planung & Analyse 20


Here is how each of the twenty organizations listed performed from a percentage of responses perspective. We have broken this out by the ranking by participants of their own “most influential” vs. “other influential” lists.



It should be noted that among respondents, 50% came from outside of North America, and for clarity, brands like ESOMAR, MRS, and GreenBook had all sub-entity responses rolled into a singular brand response (examples include Research World Magazine = ESOMAR, = MRS, IIeX = GreenBook, etc..). Where the response data was related to LinkedIn as a brand, it was counted under “LinkedIn”; where specific LinkedIn groups were referenced, those groups were listed separately and not as a part of the “LinkedIn” response totals.

Unsurprisingly, the top 3 performed relatively well globally, although ESOMAR has parlayed their positioning as the de facto global trade body well and are top of mind in Europe and the rest of the world more than LinkedIn and GreenBook combined, although they lag behind in North America.




In this ranking what jumps out is the emergence of LinkedIn as a brand by itself. Since the platform has evolved from a pure networking utility to a repository of content with extensive knowledge sharing, discussion forums and general information dissemination it very obviously fills a vital niche in the global influencer network. Since it does not have “a horse in the race” in this specific category (it’s business model focus is far broader than market research professionals)  and offers access to millions of users, groups, and content pieces from around the world and on virtually any area of interest that can be thought of, GRIT participants found that combination to be important and useful.

There is a lesson here we think regarding openness and accessibility via social networking as an important consideration for any organization wishing to develop influence in this (or any other) category. The days of exclusive content as a trump card may well be past, supplanted by the sharing model of LinkedIn. Time will tell whether this trend continues.

What Makes An Organization Influential?

Now, rather than letting this be a popularity contest, we wanted to understand why these organizations were considered influential, and the results are illuminating.

The next table shows the top 20 mentioned organizations by the codes for why they are influential.


gritheat copy2


ESOMAR performed strongly in all influence categories and is considered the top influencer. Respondents cited the organization’s reach and inclusivity as the strongest differentiator. LinkedIn was similarly strong across almost all drivers with the variety of topics and big picture thinking being their defining characteristic, a trait shared by GreenBook that actually was most highly rated on that, along with information sharing and access.  The AMA outshone everyone else on quality and relevance of information.

The top mentions as noted above were Info sharing & access and the Variety of topics and big picture thinking. One point of interest is the lack of representation for big data and analytics among the top information channels. Many of the responses also pointed toward a stronger affiliation with and rating for multi-channel organizations as evidenced by the performance of ESOMAR, Greenbook, and LinkedIn who continually distribute content through multiple channels.  This was true even where the content was largely online or presented in interactive discussion formats.

Another point of interest is the relatively weak level of influence given to innovation. This may be due to the fact that a fairly large number of respondents were suppliers and also to the fact that many of the organizations were not considered to be innovation focused or were representative of a particular method or technique that is marketed as an innovative approach.

The volume of response related to information sharing and big picture initiatives indicates a hunger for content and a need for direction. While it has been previously noted that the industry is in a state of transition, the direction often remains unclear. So it seems likely that influence to a large extent depends on how an organization helps others navigate change and whether it offers a road map towards the future.

When looking at the breakdown by Clients/Supplier a few interesting points jumped out: Clients & Suppliers were generally equally focused on info sharing, variety of topics, and reach/inclusivity as being key drivers while clients were also swayed by quality & relevant info, being informed & up to date, and the respect of the organization. Unsurprisingly suppliers put more stock in networking, innovation and commercial focus.



On the geographic front a few surprising differences emerged as well:



If the “rest of the world” can also be considered emerging markets (which we think is a fair categorization more or less) then the stark differences make a lot of sense from a career and business development perspective. The other interesting difference is the high priority given to Innovation in North America, which certainly fits with our own experience as well.

The lesson here is that organizations wishing to expand their influence in these markets should build these considerations into their strategies.

Top Performers

For this analysis of this study, the concept of influence was divided into three basic areas: connectivity & reach, thought leadership & information sharing, and innovation. A further assessment was done on the level of influence associated with each entity, which is demonstrated in the size of the dot associated with the entity.  The graphic below demonstrates performance within the three analysis areas while the larger circle defines the coded points of differentiation (in no particular order or relevance).



Based on GRIT participants these are the industry support organizations that are considered most influential, with an analysis of their strengths. Based upon what is important to you or your organization, each of these entities should be a part of your planning for industry involvement, marketing activities, and engagement.

Congratulations to every organization that made the list and keep up the good work; the industry needs us all!

Please share...

10 responses to “The Top 30 Most Influential Trade Orgs & Information Channels in MR: GRIT Sneak Peek

  1. Okay, so here’s the first question – and I’m sure not the last!

    Are Greenbook, IIeX, Lenny Murphy, Gen2Advisors all really “GreenBook”?

    I have always thought or IIeX as very different from Greenbook!

    1. Hi Shirley, great question. Just like we do with Most Innovative Companies, we roll-up all sub-brands into the parent brand. And yes, as far as GreenBook goes all of those things are part of GreenBook (even myself; I would have no personal influence without GreenBook’s platform support). Other examples are Research.Live = MRS, Research World = ESOMAR, Tom Anderson = NGMR and Ray Poynter = NewMR. Arguments could be made to count differently, but I think in most cases folks accept this consistent model.

  2. Well done ESOMAR. I think they were top last year.

    Lenny, do you track this so that you can see growth in influence year on year?

    1. @Tom, you are right, ESOMAR did have the most mentions last year, but we changed up the question a a bit this year so we didn’t feel comfortable showing trending data overall. However, in terms of raw mentions they have consistently been at the top of the heap. Actually the overall list hasn’t seen much change at all, with some shifts in position here and there but the bulk of the same key players are consistently mentioned. What is interesting is that international organizations seem to trump local organizations even when we have good sample in specific regions or countries. It’s also telling that very few publications make this list; that could be for a variety of reasons including sample, but personally I think it’s a indicative of the death of periodicals.

  3. Lenny, once more a great report and, of course, I am delighted at ESOMAR’s strong showing.

    I am also really pleased to see such a wide variety of organisations in this list, underpinning the diversity of debate, interest and influence in the industry.

    I am looking forward to reading the full report.

    Thanks again,


  4. Indeed Kevin. That is an increase and we also saw a decrease in unique LinkedIn Groups mentioned which suggests that both the overall platform and groups are important as information and social channels but that group membership doesn’t do much to move the needle from a branding perspective.

  5. Seems to have a lot of face validity, considering the sample is International. No India or China though, which is understandable, but it would give different perspective.

    This is the perfect type of survey that would benefit from other outside non-survey data to help validate. Perhaps, bring in some web traffic, Google Analytics, twitter followers, membership counts, or some results broken out my different segments would help with interpretation of results.

    Would love to know know cross-over between orgs. How many GB visitors are MRA members?

    I am trying to remember how I initially became aware of GBook–maybe like 4-5 years ago; I believe it was via a Google search. Understanding the how people initially interact with brand might help a lot.

    Kind of surprised that MRA is not too high ranking.Think its quite interesting that AMA ranks above MRA. Not surprised though.

    Great work. Important stuff to understand, and perhaps act for the future of mrx.

  6. I think the question itself is pretty biased. You could have simply asked what sources the respondent pays attention to. It seems to me you were leading the respondent (perhaps inadvertently to your own products?) by suggesting products or source types (and missing some prevalent source types such as enewsletters websites, periodicals and newspapers). When combined with the sampling bias, the validity of the results are questionable.

    1. Hmm. Well, it certainly wasn’t our intention to introduce bias, and we believe by using a broad definition of what constitutes an information source encompassed many channels. Based on the results I stand by that: we have a mix of trade orgs, websites, periodicals, social networks, new media and events. What was missed? The sample certainly could be a contributor of some bias, but again I maintain that it is one of the largest samples in the industry and we try very hard to encompass as much of the industry as possible. Regardless, as we always state this should be considered directional; we have never claimed it is an absolute quantitative snap shot.

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