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Following Up on the ‘Limiting Adjective of Market Research’ (Plus a GRIT Sneak Peek!)

There were some great discussions that stemmed from my previous post about the "Limiting Adjective of 'Marketing' Research." The conversation also led to a question being asked in the GRIT study, with early results showing that 42% think our industry needs a new name.


Editor’s Note: The previous post from Kevin Lonnie on the idea of changing the name of the MR industry was so popular and provocative that we decided to incorporate his question into the recently completed GRIT study. The results are still being analyzed, but for this question they were pretty clear cut. We asked all 1008 respondents “Does the term Marketing Research” still represent our entire industry or has the time come for a more inclusive descriptor?” .

58% responded “Yes! Marketing Research is still a viable and effective term for our industry.”.

42% responded “No! The time has come for a more inclusive and far reaching descriptor to reflect all the new listening tools & applications of our industry.”.

What was most interesting was that 55% of Client-side researchers were in favor of a name change. This indicates to me that suppliers are out of step with clients on what they perceive to be the core functions of market research.

As a follow-up, we asked all those in favor of a name change what their suggestions were. The top 6 in rank order were:

Consumer Insights
Strategic Intelligence
Business Intelligence
Consumer Intelligence
Market Intelligence


We’ll dive into this more in the forthcoming report, but clearly there is a strong minority overall, and a clear majority of client-side researchers, that believe a fundamental shift in describing the nature of our industry is in order. That need seems to be  driven by the evolving tools MR uses and the position of the research function within organizations.

Below Kevin details some of the comments made on several LinkedIn Groups when his original post was published; I think these add some great depth to the conversation about the evolution of market research.

By Kevin Lonnie

There were some great discussions that stemmed from my previous post about the “Limiting Adjective of ‘Marketing’ Research.” Some really insightful responses that exhibited multiple perspectives on the topic! The conversation also led to a question being asked in the GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) study, and early results showed that 42% said “yes, we need to develop a new term that is more reflective of what our business is today.” Even though this is not the majority, it does indicate a divide in how our industry views itself. I’m excited to continue the ride and see how things progress over the next few years.

In the meantime, here are some excerpts from the in-depth conversation that I found particularly insightful:

“The idea of repositioning our industry is a serious one that the global leaders like Nielsen, Ipsos, WPP Group, IRI, and others are embracing with fervor. Those firms may have research divisions, but their overall market positioning is aligned with business intelligence and most are hard at work on developing ‘big data’ plays that MR is a part of, but not the driving force of.” –Leonard Murphy, GreenBook Blog

“As you know I’m in the category who feel constrained by what traditional ‘marketing research’ means on the one hand, but on the other, there are certainly lots of research best practices within traditional marketing research which I would never give up, and we constantly incorporate into what we do.” –Tom Anderson, Anderson Analytics

“Many of my colleagues and I do not really identify with marketing research…In my opinion, marketing analytics has sort of divorced itself from marketing research because MR has not been innovative and forward thinking on the subject (I speak generally and not to some individual exceptions). Bottomline is that marketing research is pretty much married to the survey and focus group.” – Michael Wolfe, Bottom Line Analytics

“Let me add, it can be very difficult to embrace the risk associated with new techniques when budgets are limited and what we know is tried and true. Still I believe that the profession needs to keep evolving, so, it’s a dilemma.” –Lori Laflin, MR Manager at Cargills

“Over the last couple of decades, I viewed myself as being the information and insights business — information fostering insight that could be applied anywhere, depending on what the objectives and issues were, whether it was C2B or B2B or marketing or social or whatever. There are still firms that concentrate on designing, implementing and analyzing research to aid in making marketing decisions. In this regard, there will always be marketing research firms, regardless of what name is chosen for the industry.” –Dan Gersten, CC&B at Information & Creative Services

“I have to admit that I’m somewhat perplexed as to why so many long-term market research professionals would want to re-brand “marketing research” with a new name! If you do your “research”, you’ll notice that in the last few years “market research” has spiked as a mainstream term that is understood by many people outside of this industry.” -Sean Copeland, New Market Research Blog

“For the most part, many market(ing) researchers are still in the Marketing support business as opposed to the C-suite Strategic illumination business. The apparent issues between CEO’s and CMO’s over short term ROI and long term brand building don’t help either.” -Mike Gadd, President of Gadd Research

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