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What is Periscope by McKinsey & What Does It Mean For the Future of Market Research?

Periscope By McKinsey and their new Insights Solutions practice area are moving firmly into the research industry with a next-gen offering that merges the best of high-end strategic consulting and comprehensive data-driven solutions.


Historically consulting firms such as PwC, Deloitte, Accenture and McKinsey have fallen more into the “research client” bucket than “supplier” category; like most ad agencies, although they might conduct research on behalf of their clients, as industry publications or even as branded syndicated offerings the research was generally sourced to external partners and it wasn’t a “tip of the spear” defined product offering. As the insights industry has fragmented and evolved over the past decade, we’ve seen a gradual blurring of the lines between both agencies and consultancies as it related to insights, especially in the use of social data or other to help measure and predict on behalf of clients.

Concurrently, many research providers have struggled to re-position themselves as data-driven strategy consultancies (and even a couple making the leap to creative agencies) with various degrees of success, but overall it’s been a challenge for traditional research suppliers to move up market. Also, many new data consultancies have emerged who challenge all the existing players by focusing on high end analytics, “Big Data”, and various aspects of business intelligence.

Of course during all of these changes the advent of insights technology, especially DIY and automation across the data collection and analytical spectrum have emerged, many powered by the big tech companies or social platforms, and gone from strength to strength, further accelerating and empowering disruption.

Due to these shifts I (and others) have long predicted that the industry might end up looking something like this:



Recently I had the privilege to get to know the folks at Periscope By McKinsey, and I am more now firmly convinced than ever that the general outline above is not just where we are headed, but where we are already.   

All of that is to set the context for today’s post; an in depth interview with the senior leadership at Periscope By McKinsey where we explore what I consider to be a major sign that the industry has fundamentally shifted and is falling firmly into a new structure.

McKinsey has always conducted research, but with Periscope by McKinsey and their new Insights Solutions practice area they are moving firmly into the research industry with a next gen offering that merges the best of high-end strategic consulting and comprehensive data-driven solutions.

In this interview with Brian Elliott, Ph.D., CEO and Managing Partner at Periscope By McKinsey, and Oliver Ehrlich, Partner at McKinsey and Company, a Global leader of the Insight Solutions Suite, we dive deep into what they are doing. how they view their role in the insights space ecosystem, and what the future holds.

Rather than my usual video interview, we approached this as a podcast type interview, and then added a few slides as background to help illustrate the points we cover in the discussion. Think of this as a bit of a private webinar, where Brian, Oliver and I go back and forth to set the context of the Periscope By McKinsey offering within the broader industry. It’s surprising and revealing in many ways and falls into the “must listen” category.

Here is an embed of the interview:



This isn’t shoehorning research into strategy consulting; this is a bottom up, highly productized and fully baked research offering. From the most basic of data collection needs to the most advanced integrated strategic analytics and everything in between, Periscope By McKinsey has it. Perhaps most surprising is their Insights Solutions suite, which embraces automation and agile approaches for primary research to deliver cost and speed efficiencies one wouldn’t normally associate with a high end strategy consultancy.

To be clear, this isn’t a developing solution. This group is already a large players with 400+ Marketing and Sales analytics specialists, 35 distinct research techniques, 100+ sector-specific capabilities and 50+
unique data sources available. And based on their investment in rolling out into the research industry, they are absolutely committed to building on their success and becoming a major force in the industry.

Here is a bit from their website to show the breadth of their Insights Solutions suite offering:


Agile Insights consists of a leading edge research design and execution capability that is paired with subject matter expertise to ensure that research is truly fit-for-purpose to address key business needs. Our 4 distinctive services for companies across consumer and B2B sectors include:

Survey (quantitative research): Get the facts about individuals’ beliefs and behaviors 

  • Concept testing
  • Flash surveys
  • Growth potential surveys
  • Customer Decision Journey Score Card
  • Other modular surveys

Speak (qualitative research): Talk to and observe individuals in real time 

  • Video interviews
  • Digital diaries
  • Digital UX testing
  • Focus groups
  • in-home interviews
  • Mock-shops

Scrape: See what people are doing and saying online

  • Social brand equity
  • Social media customer engagement
  • Online intelligence
    • Purchase structures
    • Pricing & assortment insights
    • Consumer insights
    • Patient conversations

Scan: Scan data on a specific market, segment, or category to get rapid, targeted insights

  • Digital Opportunity Scan
  • Insights Factory


And of course, all of this fits into a larger system as you would expect from a company like McKinsey. Again, their website describes it best:


…Our services break down into four offerings:

  1. Agile Insights: Our team conducts interviews, creates surveys, and analyzes social and online data to better understand the consumer.

  2. Applied Insights: Our proprietary tools and services help companies identify potential market growth areas, assess product pricing and assortment, and uncover sales and marketing improvement opportunities.

  3. Intelligence Flow: We use embedded insights such as data feeds, industry surveys, and managed analytics to provide ongoing support that helps companies stay ahead.

  4. Insights Boost: We create a custom program to transform the way your organization develops insights, conducts market research, and uncovers revenue growth opportunities.


Many traditional MR suppliers may be reading this with trepidation, and perhaps rightfully so for some, but as Brian and Oliver point out they are also very happy to partner when that is what is in the best interests of the client or the business as a whole.  That is a difference between some of the other large MR firms and not only is it likely a competitive advantage for Periscope By McKinsey, but it is also a real opportunity for a variety of research suppler companies to develop a new network of partnerships around them.

The Periscope by McKinsey team will be at IIeX Europe next week in Amsterdam and likely at many other GreenBook events this year so anyone who is interested will have a chance to engage with them directly. In the meantime, stay tuned to see what they and other disruptive players are up to; this ride is just beginning!

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One response to “What is Periscope by McKinsey & What Does It Mean For the Future of Market Research?

  1. Leonardo,
    Your diagram of the Marketing Insights Ecosystem should include telcos, specifically Telefonica / LUCA Data-Driven Decisions. Since 2013, we have been providing insights to retailers, banks, insurers and industry, as well as private and public sector players in transportation and tourism. We offer solutions using both passively (e.g. Big Data) and actively collected data (e.g. mobile surveys). Telefonica is present in 24 countries worldwide.
    For more information, see our site
    Best regards,

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