Unearth the power of declared data
Insights That Work
Brand & Retailer tickets for all IIeX events now start at just $99! Get or give one today!

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

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.


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!

Please share...

10 responses to “Top 20 Most Innovative Market Research Suppliers (A GRIT 2016 Sneak Peek)

    1. And, we did an analysis re: potential “vote stuffing”, and found no evidence based on companies respondent work for and mentions:

      Company Respondents
      Ipsos 25
      LRW 24
      TNS 16
      Vision Critical 15
      Insites Consulting 12
      SSI 9
      GfK 8
      Kantar 5
      Millward Brown 5
      Nielsen 5
      Discuss Io 4
      iModerate 4
      Cint 3
      Gongos 3
      ABN Impact 2
      Added Value 2
      AYTM 2
      FocusVision 2
      Lightspeed GMI 2
      Lucid 2
      ZappiStore 2
      20|20 1
      Macromill 1
      MetrixLab 1
      ResearchNow 1
      Toluna 1
      YouGov 1

  1. Did the vote stuffing analysis take into account companies that asked for ‘votes’ on Twitter? I’m not questioning the results – I think that all of the companies on this list absolutely deserve a place here. But in the run-up to the close of the survey, it was somewhat painful to watch (some) market research firms publicly ask for votes from their followers – in what should be an unaided response question. Surely that must lead to some bias?

    Again, just to stress, I am not questioning the validity of the results – and I think it’s great that Greenbook run this for the industry. But it does make me wonder whether there are firms which value their place on this list more than keeping it unbiased.

    1. We are aware of the perhaps overzealous nature of some folks here. We don’t have a way to measure any impact, but based on meta analysis of annual movement, marketing activities, etc.. we think it was marginal. We did let the companies that we saw doing it know they needed to cool it, and we are looking at ways to remove the temptation entirely next year.

  2. Many thanks Leonardo for very insightful publication. Would you mind confirming when the final report will be available ? is that still planned for today? 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
    Many thanks

  3. Asking people who work for companies in the market research industry who the most innovative companies in the market research industry are is a weird way to determine “innovation”. Wouldn`t it be more logical to ask buyers (such as myself) instead? I bet companies such as Trybe or TXN would have been on the top of the list. If you work within the traditional research companies, I don`t think you have a good view on what is happening to the industry right now in terms of big data, pull respondents, etc.

  4. So basically people could take the GRIT study multiple times on different devices and browsers…and because you are ranking firms, companies had an incentive to do so. That completely invalidates the data on the whole study. You are either ignorant of basic marketing research principles or you are a fraud. You defense of this is completely comical. Next year my firm could be on the list. I can easily get 10 employees to take the survey 5 times…not to mention my kids.

Join the conversation