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The Top 10 Most Innovative Market Research Suppliers (GRIT Spring 2015 Sneak Peek)



A few weeks ago we unveiled a sneak peek of the The 15 Most Innovative Market Research Clients. Well, now it’s time to do the same for the supplier side of the industry!

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 for the market research industry 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 1 ranked firm to be most innovative.

For this wave, using the aggregate of the ranking question, we developed a list of 727 unique companies in total from 3565 total responses. From that list we have narrowed it down to the Top 50 (60 actually due to ties in mentions, but we’re going to keep referring to it as the GRIT Top 50 for the sake of consistency) for additional analysis.

We’re going to release only the Top 10 today in this sneak peek.

The remaining list will be published in the forthcoming GRIT report in just a few weeks, so you’ll just have to be patient to see how the other brands ranked. I can tell you that there has been a lot of movement from the last round, so stay tuned!

Only brands that received 5 or more mentions made it onto the list, which is lower threshold than in the past. That is a reflection of the significant number of companies mentioned and the competitiveness now in play for companies vying for identification with the “innovative” brand attribute.

The goal of this avenue of inquiry is to glean insight on the drivers of perception around what makes a firm innovative in order to 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 successfully these companies are using “innovation” to help drive brand awareness.

Due to issues around consolidation and multiple brand within a single entity (Kantar for instance with Millward Brown, TNS, Added Value, etc…) in the published report we will be presenting the Top 50 in two ways: without brand rollups which is based solely on the number of times companies were mentioned with no consideration given to parent company ownership or affiliation, and with brand rollups, where we have consolidated all appropriate business entities under the parent brand. As you’ll see in the final report this doesn’t change things significantly, but there is a reshuffling of the higher ranked companies, most notably for Kantar-owned companies.

For our purposes, we consider the “without rollups” to be the definitive GRIT Top 50 list and all references to that ranking use that as the foundation.

Here are the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies for 2015:


Without Rollups

2015 Rank 2014 Rank Change Company Mentions
1 1 0 BrainJuicer 178
2 3 1 Ipsos 95
3 2 (1) Vision Critical 86
4 9 5 Insites Consulting 56
5 6 1 TNS 55
6 4 (2) GfK 54
7 5 (2) Google 54
8 12 4 LRW 48
9 7 (2) Nielsen 46
10 8 (2) Millward Brown 36


Congrats to everyone who made the list!

For the fourth consecutive year, BrainJuicer is unequivocally considered the most innovative company by GRIT respondents, a testament to their discipline, creativity, and focus when it comes to branding and marketing. They remain the “ones to beat” regarding brand identification with innovation, and for the past four years no other supplier has come close to usurping this position. The strong lesson here is that any company who wants to be considered “most innovative” has a significant amount of work to do to achieve a comparable level of brand identification.

Other perennial leaders saw some position shuffling within the Top 10, but the real surprise was the number of debuts on the total list. As a bit more of a sneak peek for you, an unprecedented 23 companies debuted on the GRIT Top 50 list in this round, knocking out some previous favorites and sending a clear message that new companies are working aggressively to embrace innovation in their marketing and branding efforts. Most surprising was the number of start-ups: at least 6 companies that made the list are less than three years old.

16 brands increased their position by moving up the ranks and 21 brands declined in the ranks. Again, all will be revealed in the upcoming full GRIT report.

So what does this tell us? For firms that debuted or moved up in the ranks in 2013, their branding efforts paid dividends for them in the minds of the industry. With each iteration of the GRIT Top 50 we are witnessing how brands are leveraging various marketing channels (social media, conferences, advertising) focusing on the broad idea of “innovation”.

In the full report we dive MUCH deeper into what makes a company innovative as well as an exploration of how that aligns to many of the firms that made the list.

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8 responses to “The Top 10 Most Innovative Market Research Suppliers (GRIT Spring 2015 Sneak Peek)

  1. Interesting at 5 of the top 6 are European, and that none of the top 6 are from the USA. Is brand building and linking that to innovation something that is stronger outside the USA than inside?

  2. This ranking is based on awareness as a starting point rather than innovation.
    Perhaps number of patented approaches or methodologies per capita/employee would be a better reference point.
    For true innovation in the market research sector, it would be amiss for any list to omit Forethought in Australia.
    Written by one of their loyal clients who also use 3 others on your list.

  3. How does the most innovative “market research” firm have a flash site built in 2011 let alone leaving it like that into 2015 is beyond me. They must really understand consumer behaviour – can’t even get this 23 year old marketer to click a link on their site.

  4. Hi David, I think an even more interesting questions, at least for a market researcher, is to ask what does it say when BrainJuicer have a site that won’t run on Safari on my Mac (it says the problem is that I don’t have Adobe Flash installed – but as you say, surely that is their problem not mine) and yet are still voted by a large margin as the most innovative site?

    It could be that most marketers are still using machines that support and are configured to allow Flash?

    Or, perhaps most marketers do not visit the websites of market research companies?

    Brainjuicer’s ranking was very high, especially in relation to its turnover, so I suspect that many of the people voting for it are not customers and have never visited the website.

    Could it be that some/many/most market research companies are wasting the money they spend on their website? Could Brainjuicer have it right with an old style website?

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