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Big Ideas are Not Enough

Posted by David Pulaski Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 16:00 pm
Posted in category General Information
Big Ideas often just aren’t big enough. And if they aren’t big enough or properly coordinated, they can end up working against each other.

The Big Idea!

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. David Pulaski will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 13-15 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By David Pulaski, Research Director, Siegel+Gale

Big Ideas often just aren’t big enough. And if they aren’t big enough or properly coordinated, they can end up working against each other.

Take, for example, a company launching a new product line. Market Research may have its idea of the target market, but Product Development is working to match a competitive product in the same segment. Due to time constraints, Marketing Strategy began development of its approaches even before the market research was available, and Digital had to begin programming before each of these departments were able to provide any input on what their approach was.

A global launch further complicates matters. Marketing and Sales determine that it is most efficient to develop one global training program to inform its key customer contact people of the product’s salient selling points, launch strategies and advertising support. Certainly the training will then be consistent for the product, but it doesn’t take into account that not all of the global markets are homogenous.

Each market is likely to have different needs or wants from the product. Despite the hypothesized efficiency of this approach, the training must be modified or adapted to properly meet individual market conditions to be successful. Too often, appropriate input from the local market is not sought until it is too late to make appropriate changes.

Over time, I have seen many brand strategies and product launches fail due to lack of coordination and proper integration. Coordination is difficult to obtain when many firms continue to work in “silo” environments. This problem is only getting worse with the addition of new digital information and communication strategies. Each department is working so quickly to meet its individual deadlines that there is little time to integrate each of the “solutions” properly to launch a new product or make subtle strategic modifications. Typically:

  • Market Research identifies appropriate customer segments
  • Product Development shapes the features and pricing of the new product
  • Advertising messages are crafted to the specific segments
  • Merchandising materials are created to enhance the model’s appeal
  • Sales training programs are developed to ensure that the retail sales personnel can convey key benefits, value and competitive position
  • Marketing Strategy relays what has been identified as key benefits through brand, communication and advertising strategies

Big ideas just aren’t enough without coordination and teamwork.


Is Qualitative Dead? Here’s a Story…

Qual and quant are like yin and yang. They enrich and complete each other. Deep ethnography, text analytics, implicit testing, facial coding and survey research should get together and start sharing and testing ideas.


Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Lana Novikova will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 13-15 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By Lana Novikova, Founder & CEO, Heartbeat Ai Technologies Inc. and Katja Bressette, Managing Director, Beacon Insight Group 

Katja and Lana were runner-up competitors for the 2016 Innovation Exchange Competition in Amsterdam. Katja is a seasoned qualitative researcher who has developed an innovative online hybrid approach. Lana is a hard-core quant researcher who wants to quantify the language of emotions and apply it to “big data.” What did Katja and Lana do? COLLABORATE.

Qual and quant are like yin and yang. They enrich and complete each other. Deep ethnography, text analytics, implicit testing, facial coding and survey research should get together and start sharing and testing ideas. That’s exactly what our talk “Marketers vs. Millennials” at IIeX Atlanta is about – testing a new collaborative approach of deep qualitative and emotion text analytics.

Do you wonder what Millennials feel about collaboration? Check out this emotion map based on 200 open-ended survey responders from US and Canada:

We have been seeing lots of great advances in quantitative research and analytics, especially when it comes to text analytics, neuromarketing, implicit association testing, data visualization, artificial intelligence and “big data”. In the world of data overload today, one only hopes that these advances will solve and not add to the overload.

We started this post with a story that illustrates the idea of collaboration. These stories are a domain of deep qualitative research. Without stories, the insights are flat and lifeless. Stories make quantitative insights multidimensional, memorable, and easier to integrate by our multidimensional brains. A story is how we create and evoke deep understanding and empathy.

We believe that qual is not dead. It is not about competition between qual and quant, or a race to the top – it is about collaboration to create a stronger story, more empathy, and thereby better communication, smarter products and stronger brands. Integration and collaboration is the name of the game.


3 Roles Your Brand Can Play in Your Consumers’ Life Story

We all have life stories that we create and tell ourselves to give meaning to our life experiences. Does your brand have a part in your consumers’ life story?

magic open book of fantasy stories

By Jim White, PhD., Founding Partner at RealityCheck Consulting

If they a made a movie about your consumer, what role would your brand play?

Hero? Trusted sidekick? Mentor? Villain? Would your brand even have a speaking part? Or would it be an extra? You know, “Man in crowd #3 played by your brand”.

We all have life stories that we create and tell ourselves to give meaning to our life experiences. We use these stories to construct our sense of self.

Psychologists call this Narrative Identity.

In short, Narrative Identity is the life story we tell ourselves to give our lives a sense of coherence and purpose. We are all creators of our own myths — myths that give meaning to who we are in the world.

Every day, we strive to weave together our experiences and actions into a life story that makes sense in some way.

The Roles Brands Play

The most meaningful brands play important roles in the construction of our Narrative Identity. We use them to smooth over the inconsistencies and contradictions in our stories. We write them into our personal narratives to help us become the characters we want to become in the stories of our lives.

Just like a movie, our stories consist of characters, props and settings. And we incorporate brands into our stories in one of these three ways.

  • Characters: Brands can be characters, playing the role of supporting actors in our narratives.
  • Props: They can be props that we use to move our personal plotlines along.
  • Settings: They can be settings, stages or backdrops against which we act out the stories that shape our identities.


In marketing research, we often ask consumers to “personify” brands, that is describe them as if they are people. Usually, consumers find this easy to do. This is because we intuitively think of brands as characters in our life stories.

Over the years, I’ve gotten into the habit of sticking a Clif ® Bar into my pocket when I ski. I’m not a back country skier by any stretch. There’s little chance that I’m going to ski anywhere far from a mid-mountain restaurant.

But that Clif Bar is always in my pocket. Why? It’s because the Clif Bar is a character in my story. It represents my backcountry skiing partner. He is rugged, adventurous, skilled and serious about being in the mountains. I’d love to ski with someone like that. And with my Clif Bar, I can.


Brands also can be props that we use to move our personal plotlines along. The best brand-props are transformative in some way. They allow us to access a different part of ourselves and play a slightly different role in our stories.

In the movies, the kinds of props I’m talking about are like Harry Potter’s wand, Catness’s bow and Luke’s lightsaber. But for us everyday folks, brands are our transformative tools.

One of my brand props is my Gibson Les Paul guitar.

I think all of us in one way or another have a personal myth that we are at least somewhat cool. This is particularly true as we age. (This is definitely more myth than reality for me)!

My laptop background is actually a picture of my Gibson. Why did I choose that for my background? I’m usually the only one who sees that screen. I think it’s because I like to incorporate that guitar into my daily narrative. It allows me to tell myself each day that I’m a little younger, a little cooler than I might appear.


Brands also serve as settings, scenes or contexts in our stories that make it easier for us to play out certain roles.

I have some status on Delta Airlines, which means I get to board early and I get upgraded now and then. While I may not like to admit it, I like the feeling of boarding early and sitting in first class.  Not just because it’s convenient and more comfortable, but because it reaffirms something important about my identity — that I’m important in my world, that I have status and that I’m successful.

I may try to write the same storyline when I fly Southwest Airlines — but it’s a little harder to do. The Southwest setting doesn’t fit the story I’m trying to tell myself. I have to do a little mental editing to make my identity as “Successful Entrepreneur” fit the facts when I board a Southwest flight.

So ask yourself.

Is your brand a Character, Prop or Setting in your consumers’ life story? If the answer is “no,” begin to think how it could be. Think of the role your brand could play and put your brand on a path to becoming an indispensable part of your consumers’ Narrative Identity.


Effecting real change: the goal of any good brand

Big businesses have an undeniable pervasive influence in this world, and their brands have the ability to both frame and shape our experiences throughout our lives. What if big businesses and their brands used their influence to effect social change, as well as making profit?


By Danielle Todd 

In April, the President of the United States graced our fair shores, and participated in a town hall discussion with Britain’s youth. He said a great many wonderful things, but one comment in particular stood out for me. When speaking of social activism, Obama warned

“It’s a common mistake for campaigners to keep ‘yelling’ once politicians are willing to sit down with them…the value of social activism is to get you at the table…you then have the responsibility to prepare an agenda that is achievable.”

In other words, once you have captured the attention of those in power, it’s then time to sit down and present your case. I would apply the same truth to an equally influential Goliath of our age – big business. Big businesses have an undeniable pervasive influence in this world, and their brands have the ability to both frame and shape our experiences throughout our lives. Think of the Disney toy you cuddled throughout your childhood, or the football team you would defend until your voice is hoarse or the handbag you treated yourself to with your first decent pay-cheque.

The impact of brands on our lives has, historically, typically been leveraged primarily in the name of profit. Which is not necessarily a bad thing; we do live and will continue to live in a largely capitalist society in most parts of the world. However, what if big businesses and their brands used their influence to effect social change, as well as making profit?

Rethinking Feminism: A Debate

At a beautiful nearly 200 year old Kings College London building, on Monday 25th April, Unilever hosted an event in conjunction with the Institute of Art and Ideas, entitled ‘Rethinking Feminism’ exploring the importance of women in sustainable development. Unilever are a company whose brands are present in 98% of households across the UK, and are used by 2 billion people across the globe every day. They took a bold step in engaging in a meaningful and authentic way with one of the greatest, and most complex, social activisms of our time – feminism. Which, in my view, clearly demonstrates their commitment to act on their own global sustainability agenda.


All credit to Unilever for assembling a panel of four world-leading thinkers who truly critically engaged with the topic at hand: London Feminist Network founder, radical feminist and Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Finn Mackay; award-winning novelist Elif Şafak; political theorist and broadcaster Myriam Francoise-Cerrah and Chief HR Officer at Unilever, and the first woman to hold the position in Unilever’s history, Leena Nair.

One of the key struggles of a global company like Unilever is maintaining relevancy in all the markets in which it operates. And, for a company like Unilever who have publicly committed to doing good through good business, how to tread the fine line between respecting cultural differences, while using their influence as a catalyst for real cultural evolution and betterment, means they are venturing into unchartered territory for big business.

This story is in need of a hero…

Noted fairly early on the evening was the fact that the struggles for a better and fairer world are endless. Women are acutely aware that the backlash against feminism puts the rights we take for granted at risk. Elif Şafak, talked of the regressive nature of Turkish culture, and how women’s freedom in public spaces is restricting again. Cities belong to men, streets belong to men, and even the home belongs to men, with domestic violence, shockingly, commonplace for 1 in 3 women in Turkey. This reminded me of another brand taking a bold stance in the name of feminism, Vodafone Turkey, in their development of a protective app called Vodafone Red Alarm in defence of domestic abuse suffers. This app could be hidden as a flash-light app on women’s phones, and a guerilla style campaign was launched to let women know about the app without alerting the men in the country. This cleverly involved hiding messages embedded in Youtube tutorials on make-up or knitting, or special posters in female only hair salons. Vodafone even invented a new media channel by hiding their messages on the manufactured wax strips inside bikinis and underwear, which showed when heated.


or a brand new story?

I whole-heartedly applaud Vodafone’s valiant efforts in proactively providing a branch for women facing this awful and indefensible violence. However, companies like Unilever give me hope that big businesses can and do use their influence to critique the cultural norms that allow this violence to exist. Unilever are working towards opening up dialogues to address the very social structures that allow all sorts of insidiousness to happen, from restricted access to education to domestic violence and death for women.


Feminism itself is about respecting and applying the multiplicities of what this word entails. It is about recognising the plurality of struggles for women the world over. It is also about acknowledging and continuing the work to create a fairer, more equal world for all women and men. Good big businesses can and do have the same principles at their core. The best brands begin with the mission of providing something that addresses a real need, or makes an improvement, however marginal, in our lives. With this in mind, how can brands not use their power to highlight social issues, and open a dialogue to effect change?

Take, for example, P&G’s award-winning advertising for their washing powder brand Ariel. This advertising in India – very much a patriarchal society – opens as a letter of apology from a father to his daughter for not doing his fair share in the household and therefore setting his daughter’s poor expectations of her own husband. This advertising is anchored, as all good advertising is, in a very relatable and base human truth. Women do the majority of work within the household, and this is unjust.


Authentic engagement vs empty empowerment

This is in stark contrast to brands paying lip service to feminism, whilst simply repackaging empowerment as something essentially meaningless, whose only purpose is to sell more products. I urge every brand manager to read “How ‘Empowerment’ became something for women to buy” by Jia Tolentino, which eloquently conveys our dismay, as females, at empowerment not being a social movement about reclaiming our share of power, but more about buying products to feel empowered. This feels, to me, as a continuation of traditional advertising, which played on women’s insecurities in order to sell them products. Today instead, poorly constructed ‘empowering’ advertising plays on a woman’s desire for her autonomy to be recognised and valued, in order to sell them products. Anyone aware of the unnecessary gendered products tumblr or Twitter account will be depressingly familiar with how empty engagement with women can be, for many brands.


No brand is perfect, but taking the first step is the hardest. It is refreshing, and necessary, to see a huge company like Unilever not only comment on but proactively engage with the social injustices of our time. As Unilever state on their commitment to sustainability

“The world needs a new business model with sustainability at its heart. Only the businesses that grasp this will survive.”

Businesses and brands can and should evolve to provide more than just a product. As any brand worth its salt knows, the main objective of their products is to address a real need or provide an improvement on our lives. What more relevant need do we have, in our times, but a need for social justice?

A fairer world is a distant goal, but with companies like Unilever shining a light to guide the way, and throwing their weight behind the women who are making a difference on the ground, taking the first steps together towards greatness feels possible. Other brands, and businesses, take note; there is no real thing as a bad product any more, just brands that don’t ‘do good’.

And to paraphrase Unilever, only businesses and brands that do good will survive.


11 Potentially Game-changing Companies From The Insight Innovation Competition NA 2016

Here are the final results from the open voting phase of the most recent Insight Innovation Competition, and details on what happens next.



The Insight Innovation Competition has been one of my absolute favorite initiatives since Ray Poynter and Pravin Shekar suggested it as part of the very first Festival of NewMR six years ago.  The idea of developing a research-centric innovation competition for young companies to gain exposure, support, and capital was something new for our space, but from it’s inception the response from the industry has been phenomenal. To date over 130 companies have entered and 51 have made it to the final round, with 9 winners  going on to win the prize.  Many of the participating companies have received funding or been acquired, with even more going on to organic success through new clients and partners.

In short, the IIC is making a difference for all stakeholders in the marketing insights space, and that has always been the goal. We’re thrilled it continues to evolve and deliver on that promise!

In this most recent round, 11 companies officially threw their hats in the ring, and it is an amazing group of participants pushing the boundaries of innovation in market research.

Here are the final results from the open voting phase. Click here to go to the site and check out each of these great entrants!


Monet Networks 3879 716
Votechimp – Making consumer surveys fun 3723 515
OdinText – Accessible Data Science 3735 512
Remesh 1467 417
Collaborata™ | the market-research marketplace™ 2384 417
The Insight Activation Studio 2018 391
Sense360 – Observe @ Scale 2875 364
OutSmart 720 163
BEATGRID MEDIA’s Passive Audio Tracking 514 82
10º Atlantia Search 763 59
11º Prophesy 345 56


The crowd voting is just the first part though. 5 finalists and 1 wildcard will now go on to the Judging round at IIeX in Atlanta, and here is what they are competing for:

  • $20,000 cash award.
  • Opportunity to be evaluated for inclusion in the Lowe’s Innovation Lab Accelerator located at the Singularity University Campus at NASA Ames Research Center in San Francisco.
  • Exposure to large international audience of potential prospects, funding partners, venture capitalist and angel investors.
  • An invitation to present at the next Insight Innovation eXchange
  • An interview to be posted on the GreenBook Blog, viewed by 36,000+ industry professionals per month
  • An opportunity to work with successful senior leaders within the market research space

The Insight Innovation Competition is collaborating with the Lowe’s Innovation Lab to help competition entrants gain awareness within a broad consortium of global brands.

All participating companies will be vetted for inclusion in the Lowe’s Innovation Lab program. Selected participants will gain guaranteed organic funding through pilot programs with program partner companies, as well as access to acceleration resources for marketing, strategy, finance, and business development.

So what happens now?

The companies that will go on to the Judging Round and their chance to win $20k and all of the other benefits of making it to the finals are:

  1. Monet Networks
  2. Votechimp – Making consumer surveys fun
  3. OdinText – Accessible Data Science
  4. Remesh
  5. Collaborata™ | the market-research marketplace™

And the Wildcard entrant being added to the mix is BEATGRID MEDIA’s Passive Audio Tracking.

On June 13th, 2016, as part of Insight Innovation eXchange North America 2016, the finalists will present their concepts to a panel of judges comprised of sponsors of the competition in a live event. Each presentation will last 10 minutes: 5 minutes to pitch and 5 minutes for Q&A from the judges. The panel of judges include

  • Dan Foreman, former President of ESOMAR and advisor to many MR start-ups
  • Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical
  • Jeff Krentz, Executive VP at WPP
  • Joan Lewis, former Global Officer & SVP Consumer & Market Knowledge at Procter & Gamble
  • Kyle Nel, Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs

Using a 10-point scale for each category, judges rate each presentation on:

  • Originality of concept
  • Presentation quality
  • Market potential
  • Scalability
  • Ease of Implementation

On June 15th, 2016 we’ll reveal the scores. The highest final score wins. The winner takes home the pot and chooses which of the judges they would like to engage with afterwards as a mentor.

A BIG thanks needs to go out to our IIC sponsors who fund the prize:


The judges have their work cut out for them. Each of these entrants have immense potential, and any of them could easily take home the prize! But, there can be only one who will take their spot along past winners of the IIC:

The other five will be in good company as well and will join the 40 other finalists who have gone to great success even though they did not win the competition:



Although the other 5 companies that entered won’t get a chance to present to the judges and win the prize, since we believe everyone deserves as much attention as possible and should still have a chance to network with the potential clients, partners, and investors at the event we’re working on creating some additional session space in the start-up track of agenda right now for a few of the runner ups so they will have an opportunity to make short presentations on their capabilities and business use cases to attendees.

It’s not too late to grab your ticket to IIeX so you can experience these (and many more!) great innovative companies first hand. Don’t be left out from meeting the companies that will be driving the future of the industry and exploring how they can work with your organization to deliver insight innovation and impact!

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Look Who’s Talking, Part 1: Who Are the Most Frequently Mentioned Research Panels?


Editor’s Note: In the upcoming GRIT Report we dive deep into understanding industry perception on sample quality and potential solutions to address issues there. Concurrently to the GRIT study, a group of friends led by Kerry Hecht Labsuris of Ramius and with the assistance of Tom Anderson of OdinText decided to look at panel participation from the panelist perspective. This is a loose follow up to the 2014 & 2015 GRIT CPR Reports, which analyzed the “freshness” of consumer participation in research. Today we feature a sneak peek of the findings, which will be presented in full at IIeX North America next month.

It also follows on the heels of a recent report by The Pew Research Center : Evaluating Online Nonprobability Surveys, which benchmarked multiple panel providers on key metrics to determine quality from a bias perspective due to sample characteristics.

The overall message from all of these efforts is that challenges remain in the sample industry, although most certainly some suppliers have gone far to address them already and others are working hard to do so. I also remain unconvinced of the impact of some of these issues for the bulk of commercial research, although I certainly share the concerns when it comes to social and political polling; look no further than the massive misses in the past few major election cycles for examples, which to be fair are perhaps even more owed to similar issues in telephone sample frames than online methods.

We’re going to keep working with many industry stakeholders to support and showcase all of the different efforts being made to address this fundamental aspect of research, as well to giver  platform to different perspectives. However I want to be clear on my personal view here: online research is the driving force of global commercial research and some of the leaders in the panel community are doing great work around quality and should be commended. Business disruption and market fundamentals buffet this subset of companies constantly and I am confident that these forces will be navigated successfully.


By Tom Anderson

Who exactly is taking your survey?

It’s an important question beyond the obvious reasons and odds are your screener isn’t providing all of the answers.

Today’s blog post will be the first in a series previewing some key findings from a new study exploring the characteristics of survey research panelists.

The study was designed and conducted by Kerry Hecht Labsuirs, Research Director at Ramius. OdinText was enlisted to analyze the text responses to the open-ended questions in the survey.

Today I’ll be sharing an OdinText analysis of results from one simple but important question: Which research companies are you signed up with?

Note: The full findings of this rather elaborate study will be released in June in a special workshop at IIEX North America (Insight Innovation Exchange) in Atlanta, GA. The workshop will be led by Kerry Hecht Labsuirs, Jessica Broome and yours truly. For more information, click here.

About the Data

The dataset we’ve used OdinText to analyze today is a survey of research panel members with just over 1,500 completes.

The sample was sourced in three equal parts from leading research panel providers Critical Mix and Schlesinger Associates and from third-party loyalty reward site Swagbucks, respectively.

The study’s author opted to use an open-ended question (“Which research companies are you signed up with?”) instead of a “select all that apply” variation for a couple of reasons, not the least of which being that the latter would’ve needed to list more than a thousand possible panel choices.

Only those panels that were mentioned by at least five respondents (0.3%) were included in the analysis. As it turned out, respondents identified more than 50 panels by name.

How Many Panels Does the Average Panelist Belong To?

The overwhelming majority of respondents—approx. 80%—indicated they belong to only one or two panels. (The average number of panels mentioned among those who could recall specific panel names was 2.3.)

Less than 2% told us they were members of 10 or more panels.

Finally, even fewer respondents told us they were members of as many as 20+ panels; others could not recall the name of a single panel when asked. Some declined to answer the question.

Naming Names…Here’s Who

Caption: To see the data more closely, please click this screenshot for an Excel file. 


In Figure 1 we have the 50 most frequently mentioned panel companies by respondents in this survey.

It is interesting to note that even though every respondent was signed up with at least one of the three companies from which we sourced the sample, a third of respondents failed to name that company.

Who Else? Average Number of Other Panels Mentioned

Caption: To see the data more closely, please click this screenshot for an Excel file.


As expected—and, again, taking the fact that the sample comes from each of just three firms we mentioned earlier—larger panels are more likely than smaller, niche panels to contain respondents who belong to other panels (Figure 2).

Panel Overlap/Correlation

Finally, we correlate the mentions of panels (Figure 3) and see that while there is some overlap everywhere, it looks to be relatively evenly distributed.

Caption: To see the data more closely, please click this screenshot for an Excel file.


Finally, we correlate the mentions of panels (Figure 3) and see that while there is some overlap everywhere, it looks to be relatively evenly distributed. In a few cases where correlation ishigher, it may be that these panels tend to recruit in the same place online or that there is a relationship between the companies.

What’s Next?

Again, all of the data provided above are the result of analyzing just a single, short open-ended question using OdinText.

In subsequent posts, we will look into what motivates these panelists to participate in research, as well as what they like and don’t like about the research process. We’ll also look more closely at demographics and psychographics.

You can also look forward to deeper insights from a qualitative leg provided by Kerry Hecht Labsuirs and her team in the workshop at IIEX in June.

Thank you for your readership. As always, I encourage your feedback and look forward to your comments!

Previously posted at http://odintext.com/blog/look-whos-talking-part-1full-research-panels/

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The Top 20 Most Innovative Market Research Suppliers (A GRIT 2016 Sneak Peek)

Posted by Leonard Murphy Friday, May 13, 2016, 8:12 am
A sneak peek of the upcoming Q1-Q2 2016 GRIT Report with the Top 20 Most Innovative Research Companies.


It’s a tradition to offer a few “sneak peeks” on key sections of any upcoming release of the GRIT Report. In about 2 weeks we’ll be publishing the Q1-Q2 2016 GRIT Report. In this newest report we cover a whole host of topics important to the industry, including:

Adoption Of Emerging Methods
GRIT 50 Most Innovative Suppliers
GRIT 50 Most Innovative Clients
Most Important Leadership & Research Focused Training Programs
Adoption of Automation Approaches
The Future of Sampling
The Financial Outlook
Challenges to the Research industry
Opportunities for the Research industry

For this first sneak peek, we’re unveiling the top 20 of the GRIT 50 Most Innovative Suppliers, and a small piece of the analysis. This analysis was conducted by Ray Poynter and I, and the results are interesting to say the least, especially when we dive into why GRIT participants named these companies.

Beginning in 2010, we decided to start tracking which supplier firms were perceived as most innovative within the global market research industry. This has evolved into the GRIT Top 50 Most Innovative list, which at its core is a brand tracker using the attribute of “innovation” as the key metric. Now, each year we measure how market research suppliers are leveraging this brand element through a simple question series:

  1. Using an unaided awareness verbatim question, we ask respondents to list the research companies they considered to be most innovative.
  2. We then ask them to rank those firms from most to least innovative.
  3. Finally, we ask another verbatim as to why they consider their number one ranked firm to be most innovative.

The ranking is derived from a count of total mentions in the first top of mind question.

For this wave, using the aggregate of total mentions, we developed a list of 634 unique companies from 5, 638 total responses. From that list, we have narrowed it down to the Top 50 for additional analysis.

Only brands that received 15 or more mentions made it on to the list, which is a higher threshold than in the past. This is a reflection of the vast number of companies mentioned and the competitiveness now in play for companies vying to be identified with the “innovative” brand attribute.

We’ve set out to glean insight on the drivers of perception in regards to what makes a firm innovative. From this, our ultimate goal is to better understand how MR firms are capitalizing on the idea of “innovation” to grow their businesses. We believe that this list, developed by our peers within the industry, is a true measure of how successful these companies are at using “innovation” to help drive brand awareness.

We are ignoring “ties” (companies with the same number of mentions) for the sake of simplicity; it is not a factor in the Top 10 at all.

Here are the rankings for the top 20 suppliers, as well as changes from the last wave:


Change 2015 2016 Company Mentions
0 1 1 BrainJuicer 420
0 2 2 Ipsos 286
1 4 3 Insites Consulting 201
5 9 4 Nielsen 193
1 6 5 GFK 178
(1) 5 6 TNS 174
(4) 3 7 Vision Critical 162
0 8 8 LRW 135
1 10 9 Millward Brown 133
(3) 7 10 Google 103
14 25 11 ZappiStore 98
2 14 12 Qualtrics 88
31 44 13 SSI 85
4 18 14 Gutcheck 73
(3) 12 15 Research Now 73
12 28 16 Kantar 67
0 17 17 Toluna 50
(3) 15 18 Hotspex 47
(6) 13 19 RIWI 40
(9) 11 20 20|20 Research 38

The main message is that for the 5th year running BrainJuicer has been highlighted as the most innovative agency, and with a very large lead over every other agency. Indeed, not much change at the top of the leader board is the key message. All ten of this year’s top ten were also in the top ten last year. However, there are interesting moves within that elite group. InSites Consulting has moved from 4th to 3rd, Nielsen has jumped 5 places to 4th, Vision Critical has dropped 4 places to 7th and Google has dropped 3 places to 10th.

In terms of why these companies are innovative (beyond the use of words like ‘new’ and ‘innovative’) the two key drivers were ‘Methodologies/Techniques’ and ‘Technology/Tools’ (BTW many thanks to Ascribe for helping with the coding of the open-ended responses).

This finding flies in the face of the people who say real innovation is about people, storytelling, and co-creation. In order to score well on Innovation, having good, new and innovative tech is a key part of the picture. Terms like ‘people’, ‘data collection’, ‘leadership’, ‘virtual’ and ‘quality’ were only used occasionally – with the two key phrases occurring more than ten times as often.

That’s all we’re going to divulge today, but congrats to these 20 companies!

The full Q1-Q2 2016 GRIT Report will be published at the end of May and in it we go much deeper into this analysis, showing the full GRIT 50, companies that fell off this year, differences by Region, differences by Supplier vs. Buyer, an alternate ranking with rollups into parent companies (all the Kantar brands combined for example), and the 50 most innovative Client organizations.

Watch this space for the release!

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Keys to Successful Outsourcing

When choosing to outsource, companies have many options to weigh, and many concerns to consider.


By Cyrus Deyhimi

Outsourcing offers many attractive benefits for organizations of all sizes. In the decision to outsource, financial concerns are the chief driver. There are, however, other appealing incentives. Among them are a broader time zone coverage, and access to a more varied skill set among employees.

Along with these benefits, outsourcing brings with it a range of challenges. These are often unfamiliar to small-to-midsize companies.

In making the determination of where to outsource, a number of factors are at play. A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm, has, for the past seven years, conducted the Global Services Location Index (GSLI). The Index “tracks the contours of the offshoring landscape in 55 countries across three major categories: financial attractiveness, people skills and availability, and business environment.” The GSLI found that “offshoring to India remains a highly attractive proposition for many companies, and it is the undisputed industry leader.”[i]

When choosing to outsource, companies have many options to weigh, and many concerns to consider. This paper provides a framework to address some of them.

Create a Company Culture Across Both Teams

Much of a company’s culture is created around the water cooler. “Water cooler conversations” allow employees to get to know each other beyond a formal business relationship. In an environment where they can talk more freely, personal bonds are forged between coworkers. When employees are more comfortable around one another, they feel more at ease in expressing new ideas. A positive company culture can be a catalyst for innovation.

When teams are spread across different time zones, it’s necessary to find tools to emulate the “water cooler” experience. Our company has found great success with Slack, a business-oriented social network. Through Slack, our employees, wherever they live, can engage in discussions both professional and casual.

Cultivate Cultural Understanding and Respect

India, like the United States, is a country of diverse cultures, religions and languages. It is critical to educate your team on key cultural differences. Understanding faiths, traditions and holidays is essential to maintaining a diverse and tolerant company culture.

While English is the business language of the Paradigm office, three languages and four religions are represented. Because of our diverse workforce, we’re almost always planning coverage, so that one or more of our team members can focus on their holiday. This is not seen as a negative. Rather, because we’ve emphasized understanding, we look at it as another part of business.

Prioritize In-Person Discussions

Between employees at home and workers abroad, there is often limited face-to-face interaction. The introduction of programs like Skype and Facetime have done much to help, and we have encouraged our teams to employ them frequently. Far more personal than a phone call, video chat helps further relationships and decrease misunderstandings.

Ultimately, though, there can be no substitute for a physical meeting. We know this, and have facilitated frequent trips for our U.S. team to visit India, and vice-versa. These in-person meetings reiterate the important role each team member plays in the overall ecosystem of the business.

Rally around process to scale the team and business

Detailed scheduling is an integral process in any company’s workflow, and necessary to ensure 24/7 operations. Outsourcing affords us greater coverage, allowing us to offer a more seamless experience to our customers. Clear handoffs, though, are critical, and great attention should be paid to transitions between shifts.

In addition to scheduling, it is critical to set international company standards. Both domestic and overseas employees should agree to adhere to commonly-held guidelines and policies. Examples include an understanding that meetings start and end on time, and that shared calendars are always updated. This allows teams on both sides to be more efficient and reduce misunderstandings.

Your overseas team should feel like an extension of your local work force. Outsourcing is a vital way to broaden the reach of your company, and to make a company’s services available to customers for more hours of the day. In addition, it is an opportunity to learn about different cultures, and to foster a deeper understanding among people in general.

[i] Sethi, Arjun and Johan Gott, 2016 A.T. Kearny Global Services Location Index, available from atkearny.com, accessed April 28, 2016.


Millennial Family Passion Points: A new roadmap for marketing to the modern family heart, not its head

It is axiomatic in the world of mom, dad, and youth marketing that the brand with the best insights on their category wins. So how well does your organization understand the emotional landscape of Millennial families, the world’s biggest consumer?


Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. George Carey will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 13-15 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By George Carey, Founder & CEO, The Family Room

It is axiomatic in the world of mom, dad, and youth marketing that the brand with the best insights on their category wins. But is this really true? Do the ads that gives us goosebumps or the new products that move markets come from category insights, or human insights? We think that the answer is the later. Indeed, an army of social scientists are telling us over and over again that the root of consumer decision making… the System One thinking that Daniel Kahneman described so eloquently in his seminal work Thinking Fast And Slow… does not take place in the rational part of the mind, but in the emotionally-driven sub-conscious.

So how well does your organization understand the emotional landscape of Millennial families, the world’s biggest consumer? Millennials have now moved through their kid, teen, and young adult life-stages, and are now having babies and raising children. With this transition, they have adopted a whole new set of Passion Points that bare little semblance to those of non-parents but are essential for any brand wishing to connect with them on an emotional level to understand. Here are four examples:

The Primacy of Kids: Millennial moms and dads, perhaps to a fault, are obsessed with their children and being a part of their lives. No less than 54% describe their SEVEN year old as “one of my best friends.” Brands they perceive as allies in strengthening this parent/child bond will get their attention.

A Culture of Fear: It is a very scary time to be a parent. Between terrorism, gun violence, toxic air and water, and an unstable economy, it is no wonder that the number five Passion Point for Millennial moms and dads is “Safety and Protection.” Brand stories that make families feel safer and more secure will be of high interest.

Health And Wellbeing Re-Defined: Surprising as it may sound for what we have come to think of as the most health-conscious generation, when you put “Living A Healthy Lifestyle” in the broader context with Millennial moms’ and dads’ other Passion Points, it doesn’t even make the top five. Reframing the conversation from health as an end benefit to health in services of a dominant Passion Point will help a lot.

One Family, One World: When you get to this level of human understanding about families, there is remarkable unanimity in the emotional truths that define them and govern their consumer decision making. Find the Passion Point your brand ignites, and it can take over the world with one message.

I will be sharing a more in-depth review of The Family Room’s discoveries on Millennial family Passion Points at this year’s IIeX Atlanta on June 13th and invite you to join me. Also be sure to check out the work Steve August and is doing with us on a new set of tools for getting inside the hearts of Millennial parents and youth.


What’s a Good Adventure Story without the Photos?

Taking and sharing photos has become a normal part of life in a way that taking a survey never has.



Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Kelsy Saulsbury will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 13-15 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By Kelsy Saulsbury, Manager, Consumer Insights & Analytics, The Schwan Food Company

As a child I loved to explore inside the large black trunk that held my father’s things from Vietnam. His army uniform with “Saulsbury” on the chest. Black velvet scrolls with fierce orange tigers painted on them. And photos. Photos of my dad as a young man in his army uniform. Photos of my dad with his Vietnamese friends a world away from my rural Minnesota childhood.

For years my father and I daydreamed together of when the two of us would go to Vietnam. To the place of those photos. To the place of his memories and of my imagination. Then what seemed like only a daydream became a reality as we traveled this past December throughout Vietnam. Reconnecting with friends he hadn’t seen in 46 years. Seeing places he remembered and places he’d never been. And we took more photos.

Photos to help us remember. To make sure we remember. Photos to share. Photos to show others and tell our stories. What’s a good travel adventure without the photos? Photos are powerful. They sear into our brains…our memories…our imagination. They bring to life our stories and add a truth beyond our words. As we strive for powerful stories in research, we need photos.

Sure a survey is easier to create, administer and analyze. It makes my job easy. But photos….they show things a survey can’t like context and details we don’t even think to mention. They meet consumers where they are. It’s a world of Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Taking and sharing photos has become a normal part of life in a way that taking a survey never has. Photos make us listen and remember and imagine in ways that charts and bullet points don’t.

As you think about your next project consider it a travel adventure. A sacred adventure where your consumers let you into their lives. Gather their data and their stories how you always have, but find ways to also gather their photos along the way because you know at the end you’ll want to share an amazing adventure story…their story. One that people remember. One that sparks the imagination.

Ideas for capturing photos:

  • Add optional questions within surveys that ask for a photo upload.
    • Ask for a caption or explanation of the photo as well.
  • Run a small activity parallel to your main research asking for photos with captions.
  • Pull photos from social media with hashtags related to your area of study.
  • Ask for “in the moment” photos to capture consumer experiences.
    • From shopping to private moments at home.
    • From late night hours to special events – times when a researcher isn’t likely to be invited, but a smart phone camera is already there.

Let the adventure begin!