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Which GRIT Top 50 MR Firms Are Perceived As Most Innovative By Clients?

As part of the last round of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Study we asked respondents to name the companies that they consider to be the most innovative. The result was a list of 50 market research firms that are perceived to be the most innovative. You can find our analysis of the results in the GRIT Report.

In preparing for the next wave of GRIT (coming this month!) I’ve been going back into the data to look for interesting trends or insights that could inform the questions we want to explore in the next phase of the study. It occurred to me that a little extra analysis on these companies could be interesting, so below is a table that shows their total mentions, absolute rank, and the mentions broken out by Suppliers and Clients. Take a look:

Total Rank Supplier Mentions Client Mentions
Brainjuicer 60 1st 45 15
TNS Global 32 Tied for 2nd 23 9
Vision Critical 32 Tied for 2nd 24 8
Synovate 31 3rd 27 4
Ipsos 25 Tied for 4th 19 6
Nielsen 25 Tied for 4th 19 6
Anderson Analytics 21 5th 13 8
Itracks 18 6th 17 1
GFK 17 7th 13 4
Peanut Labs 16 8th 13 3
20/20 15 Tied for 9th 15 0
Communispace 15 Tied for 9th 9 6
Millward Brown 14 10th 9 5
IModerate 13 11th 7 6
Maritz 11 Tied for 12th 6 5
OTX 11 Tied for 12th 8 3
QualVu 11 Tied for 12th 7 4
InfoSurv 10 Tied for 13th 8 2
Revelation Global 10 Tied for 13th 9 1
Toluna 10 Tied for 13th 9 1
Affinnova 9 14th 5 4
Gongos Research 8 Tied for 15th 6 2
Knowledge Networks 8 Tied for 15th 6 2
Neurofocus 8 Tied for 15th 4 4
Research Now 8 Tied for 15th 5 3
Vovici 8 Tied for 15th 4 4
Burke Inc. 7 Tied for 16th 5 2
MarketTools 7 Tied for 16th 4 3
E Rewards 6 Tied for 17th 6 0
Emsense 6 Tied for 17th 3 3
Forrester 6 Tied for 17th 5 1
Gallup 6 Tied for 17th 3 3
Hall and Partners 6 Tied for 17th 4 2
OnePoint Global 6 Tied for 17th 6 0
Insight Express 5 Tied for 18th 4 1
Insites Consulting 5 Tied for 18th 5 0
Nunwood 5 Tied for 18th 4 1
StrategyOne 5 Tied for 18th 3 2
Truth 5 Tied for 18th 5 0
Allegiance 4 Tied for 19th 3 1
Buzzback 4 Tied for 19th 3 1
Copernicus 4 Tied for 19th 2 2
Insights Now 4 Tied for 19th 3 1
KidzEyez 4 Tied for 19th 4 0
Lieberman Research 4 Tied for 19th 1 3
Market Probe 4 Tied for 19th 4 0
Sands Research 4 Tied for 19th 2 2
SPSS 4 Tied for 19th 2 2
USamp 4 Tied for 19th 4 0


So that is the list of Top 50 Market Research companies perceived to be most innovative by both suppliers and clients. It is an interesting list and every company here deserves kudos for their efforts to brand themselves in the consciousness of the industry as being innovative!

Now let’s have a little fun. Granted that the sample skewed heavily to suppliers, but let’s apply the same standard of at least 4 mentions in order to qualify and just look at the firms mentioned by clients. We drop from 50 companies down to only 16!  Here is what that condensed list looks like:









Brainjuicer 60 1st 45 15
TNS Global 32 Tied for 2nd 23 9
Vision Critical 32 Tied for 2nd 24 8
Anderson Analytics 21 5th 13 8
Ipsos 25 Tied for 4th 19 6
Nielsen 25 Tied for 4th 19 6
Communispace 15 Tied for 9th 9 6
IModerate 13 11th 7 6
Millward Brown 14 10th 9 5
Maritz 11 Tied for 12th 6 5
Synovate 31 3rd 27 4
GFK 17 7th 13 4
QualVu 11 Tied for 12th 7 4
Affinnova 9 14th 5 4
Neurofocus 8 Tied for 15th 4 4
Vovici 8 Tied for 15th 4 4


A few things jump out to me:

  • 3 companies originally in the Top 10 drop off: Peanut Labs, iTracks, and 20/20. No big surprise there; those firms mostly serve other suppliers. It does indicate that clients are not paying much attention to firms that simply provide enabling technology or resources.
  • 6 companies move up: iModerate, Maritz, QualVu, Affinnova, Neurofocus, and Vovici. Congratulations; your branding efforts on the client side are working!
  • Of the 16 total companies, we have 8 of the biggest full service suppliers, 3 MROC providers, 1 text analytics specialist, 2 technology-based qualitative firms, 1 neuromarketing firm, and 1 concept optimization leader. That is quite a diverse group of firms.

I think this list can tell us a lot. Obviously the big firms achieved their status through extensive marketing activities; big companies have big marketing budgets. What about the rest? Here is where things get interesting: the other eight are all leading providers in delivering innovative solutions to the industry. All are young companies, all are technology driven firms, and every single one of them is growing like crazy.

Do you see the trend? These smaller, innovation driven firms are achieving brand recognition comparable to the largest global full service suppliers. They don’t have the same budgets, so that tells me that their marketing messages are sticking with client-side researchers, and an integral part of those messages is the positioning of offering new, unique, and effective solutions to business intelligence issues.

My primary takeaway here is that clients are looking for innovation and companies that can communicate that effectively are winning business as a result. As we all look at this list, that lesson should be foremost in our minds; innovation isn’t just a  buzzword, it can be a primary business driver.

Congratulations to each of the firms that made the list. We’ll revisit this particular question in the fall and it will be interesting to see how the list changes as other firms get the message and act accordingly.


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16 responses to “Which GRIT Top 50 MR Firms Are Perceived As Most Innovative By Clients?

  1. Would be great to see responses like this from clients or research providers who have actually used the various research companies, vs. those who are aware but have not yet tried. Maybe the next GRIT could factor that in?
    Would also be great to get some definition of what is innovative about these companies? For example – I imagine that what people see as innovation in a company like Neurofocus is much different from what they see as innovation from a company like TNS or Anderson.

    1. Hi Betsy,

      Agreed; I think we’ll be adding in some other dimensions to this question in the Fall survey that will give us a better picture into what does innovation mean, what drives perception on the topic, and of course who is moving the needle in terms of market perceptions around innovation. Stay tuned!

  2. I am horrified with what you are passing off as research. This is nothing more than a popularity contest, with a low vote count to boot. How you can claim to be representing the research industry when your own research is so poor is beyond me. Perhaps if a research company becomes a sponsor of the survey with their logo all over the survey or a Green book advertiser they will go up in the rankings like Anderson Analytics. Nice sales gimmick! Very bad research!

    1. Hi Jennifer and thanks for your comments. Have you read the analysis in the GRIT report? We are very clear that this is simply the number of times each company was mentioned in response to the question in the survey on which MR firms respondents considered to be innovative. The base was over 700 respondents and we selected the top 49 mentions. We are very careful to say that we consider this to be a measure of perception, primarily driven by marketing efforts by each company. We did not intend to create a true measure of innovation, although we are considering ways to do that in the next round in the fall.

      As to your claims of bias, I disagree. When doing a brand sentiment study or customer satisfaction study do you not include the sponsoring brand in the ratings? By our measure Anderson Analytics belongs on that list because they ceaselessly market themselves as being innovative. That message has stuck with the industry and when we asked the question the respondents answered honestly. The something applies to the #1 firm, Brainjuicer (who was not a sponsor of the study) , which beat out all other firms because we captured a measure of their marketing effectiveness around the innovation message. Yes, 2 other sponsors made it on the list as well: InfoSurv and StrategyOne, but with far fewer mentions and they also market extensively around the innovation concept. I reject the notion of their being extraordinary bias, of the study being invalid in any way, or of it being bad research; we asked the question, the largest possible sample of the global industry answered, and we reported the results and offered an appropriate interpretation.

      If you’d like to help us take this core idea of measuring innovation within our industry farther and create a different model to truly quantify it feel free to call me at 7709854904; I’d love to hear your ideas and the help in this totally free effort that I’ve been doing for almost a decade now would be appreciated!

  3. Many thankss for the interesting study…

    But what exactly do you mean by “innovation-driven firms”?

    Innovative in their offerings i.e. new research methodologies, etc.?
    Innovative in their marketing practices i.e. their ability to achieve brand visibility as small companies?

    What does it take for research firms to achieve success today?
    Presence? Scale? Innovation? Other?

    1. Hi William,

      Sorry for the delayed response. One flaw in the design last year was not asking a follow-up on how people were defining innovation, so I don’t know the answer to your question. We won’t make that mistake this next go around and will probe more deeply to get a better understanding of what criteria respondents are using to define innovation when they list the firms they think qualify.

      As to what it takes, it seems to me that the answer is “all of the above”, although it may be a matter of finding the right combination of attributes based upon your market focus. What I think are absolute “cost of entry” points are vertical expertise, quality of data, and consultative approach.

  4. Nice to see the top 50 innovative market research
    I am Head of client services at Dialog Solutions – a start up (less than 3 years.
    We position ourselves as specialist in online conversation for close communities (market research towards marketing and innovation ) and open communities (social media widget integrating and optimizing conversations from social media to brand website. (

    Would you consider social media content management tools as potentially “innovative market research”?


    1. Thanks for the comment Flex. I think CM is part of the new research tool box, especially if integrated within communities. As more of the focus of research becomes listening, then the ability to effectively curate information on the web becomes an important tool.

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