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4 takeaways from the 2019 GRIT Business & Innovation Report

Kelvin Claveria
12 July 2019

The GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report is an annual and comprehensive analysis of the current state of the insights industry. Based on a global survey of thousands of market research professionals, the report provides a snapshot of the trends, challenges and opportunities shaping market research, as well as an outlook on what’s coming up.

This year’s report is pretty special because both Rival Technologies and Reach3 Insights, our sister company, made their debuts! 🤗 Rival ranked #19 on the technology provider list, while Reach3 ranked on full-service as well as strategic consulting lists. 🍾

GreenBook, the company that conducted the study, ran a webinar this week to explore top findings from the report. Eileen Campbell, Chair and Co-founder of Reid Campbell Group (the holding company that owns Rival and Reach3) was part of the panel that also included representatives from Voxpopme, Remesh and Zappi.

A live recording will be available on the GreenBook website soon. In the meantime, here are four takeaways worth noting.

Attend to the big issues now

The business outlook for the insights industry is bright, according to the GRIT report. Eileen said this was a nice surprise given  the industry’s history of self-flagellation. But she also warned that an election year could hurt the industry’s reputation, especially if a number of polls get the results of the elections wrong.

“There are some issues we need to be attentive to,” Eileen said the webinar. For instance, the industry’s over-reliance on email-based surveys means it may not be hearing from all of the relevant voices. It's critical for the industry to re-examine well-established approaches and technologies and ask if these jive with how consumers live their digital lives. 

Hear all the relevant voices

The biggest technology trend researchers are watching — by a long shot — is AI, according to the report. Other trends, such as automation and behavioral science, are also getting attention but are relatively small compared to AI.

The focus on AI makes sense given the industry’s obsession on faster and cheaper solutions. But Eileen also pointed out that AI is just as good as its inputs. Therefore, companies need to make sure that the datasets they have are of high integrity and represent the accurate attitudes, opinions and preferences of their customers.  

“If there’s ever a time to make sure that we’re getting the right voices in those data sets, it’s now,” Eileen said.

Invest in technology — and people 

When talking about innovation, it’s easy to overlook the importance of people and over-focus on technology. Indeed, many of the companies that ranked the highest on the GRIT report are technology-led companies. (The other companies featured in the webinar — Zappi, Remesh and Voxpopme — are all tech organizations with a SaaS business model.) But the speakers were quick to point out that human capital is very important.

In fact, according to Eileen, the right marriage of tech and consulting holds the key to delivering the most value to research clients. While technology can help automate many tasks and provide scale, you still need people who will execute and turn findings into insights.  

Don't mistake awareness for innovation 

Finally, webinar moderator Leonard Murphy asked the panelists to comment on this year’s most innovative lists. What does it take to reach the top of GRIT's lists? 

Eileen pointed out that one could argue that the GRIT list is a measurement of mindshare and brand awareness rather than innovation. At the end of the day, the market research companies that sit at the top of these lists are the most established or are the ones with the biggest marketing budgets. Eileen said she’s keeping an eye on companies that are punching above their weight.

“I applaud the big brands for continuing to innovate, and I give kudos to the smaller brands making an impact,” Eileen shared. 

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