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Market Leaders Deep Dive: Full-Service Agencies

An insider's look into the latest GreenBook Market Leaders Report, on the subsection detailing full-service agencies. Read on for an analysis of the disruptions within the category with our editor, Lenny Murphy.

Editor’s Note: This subsection is featured in the GreenBook Market Leaders Report. The GreenBook Market Leaders Report is your #1 guide to brand success in the insights industry, featuring the U.S. Top 50, and in-depth analysis from leading CEOs. In its inaugural edition, you’ll learn who is in the lead, who is rising towards the top, and where your company fits into it all.


We will now be looking at the leading firms in each of the five segments of our industry that we have defined: Full Service, Field Service, Data & Analytics, Strategic Consultancy, and Technology Provider.

In addition to the companies listed in the U.S. Top 50 section, there are two other companies that should be considered due to size estimates. With that in mind, we would consider the leaders of the Full-Service category to be:

In this section, we have also included additional profiles of companies from the U.S. Top 50 List who defined themselves as being in this segment.

The Full-Service agency category is under the most disruption; as previously noted, ten years ago this was the defining category for the industry, but increasingly companies that would have comfortably fit within this definition are differentiating themselves by focusing on strategy consulting, productization, and technology. In some cases, they are branching outside of insights and analytics entirely by incorporating marketing and activation services.

What is left is a category of companies that are perhaps best defined as “insight services companies”, meaning organizations that are clearly focused on using a variety of tools and resources to provide insights to corporate researchers, generally on a project by project basis or aligned to specific business issues or verticals. They are “generalists” in the sense that they can do many things to address a variety of client needs, but are more focused on the “how and why” than on the “now what” of strategy consultants and are struggling to compete with the cost and efficiency of technology companies or the “methodological agnosticism” of data analytics providers. While still, a major force within the industry, the Full- Service category will continue to be under pressure from fragmentation into sub-segments that may prove to be challenging to differentiate in.

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