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Who Were The Top 40 Most In-Demand Research Suppliers at IIeX NA?

Just as the GRIT Emerging Technology adoption rankings can be used to help gauge where investment dollars should be spent, I think this analysis of where client interest lies at IIeX is another vital data point to consider during the strategic planning process.

Whew! It’s been a breakneck past month as we raced towards the biggest and best IIeX event yet: IIeX North America 2016. Last week all the hard work of many folks paid off in droves and we had a fantastic event here in Atlanta. With over 800 attendees from all around the world representing 453 unique organizations (including 115 different client-side companies) and almost 200 speakers over two and a half days, it was jam packed with the extraordinary at every level.

If you missed it, or want to be reminded of what a great time you had, check out this sizzle reel our video team at Smilesstyles Media, put together:



Of course, the lifeblood of IIeX is connecting buyers with suppliers and supporting business, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at our Corporate Partner program meetings and see what we can glean on what client’s were looking for at the conference. If you’re not familiar with the CP program it’s pretty simple: we work with buyers of research and investors by giving them the opportunity to meet with any potential suppliers/partners they pick during the conference. They can choose from any company attending, and there is no charge for anyone to participate. It’s one of the most popular aspects of IIeX events for all involved, and we’re thrilled to be able to help the industry grow in this way.

In Atlanta, 15 partners met with 112 different supplier companies for a total of 221 private meetings! That’s an awful lot of business value generated! In many cases the Corporate Partners sent teams of people to cover both the meetings and to absorb the content from the agenda or take advantage of the informal networking and exhibitor discussions, ensuring that no stone was left unturned in getting everything they could from the conference.

The participating partners in Atlanta were:

General Mills
Harley Davidson
Nestle Purina

Now here is the interesting part: what were they looking for?

We categorized every supplier invited to the meetings and added up the number of meetings for each group and here is what we found:


IIeX CP Meetings


A few notes:

  • Before anyone asks in the comments, no, we will not divulge supplier names here. You are welcome to make guesses based on public information on attending companies and exhibitors but we will neither confirm or deny. 
  • Neuromarketing includes any method that is based on neuroscience or cognitive science, not just EEG based research. It does not include Facial Scanning or the application of Behavioral Economics models; they are counted separately.  
  • Online Qual includes both traditional approaches and emerging “agile” or automation solutions, as well as hybrids that combine qual and quant in an online setting. It does not include Ethnography or Communities; the companies in this cluster use either a group or IDI model in an online environment.
  • Innovation Consultancy are firms that either focus on NPD or Innovation as their primary offering, or offer tools that are focused on those fronts. Many here are also Full Service firms, but I’m using a bit of insider knowledge in working with the Corporate Partners to give context to why they were selected and in all cases it was due to a need to find new product/service innovation models. Other companies in other categories such as Prediction Markets could also fit here, but since they offer a very specific approach I kept them separate.    

So what’s the big picture here? Here’s my take on the highlights.

Since the inception of the CP Program, Neuromarketing has been at the top of the list. Despite only showing tepid growth in GRIT adoption rankings, interest in the value that nonconscious techniques can deliver for insights remains very high and the client-side continues to explore what suppliers can offer here.

Online Qual has been around for many years, but like online surveys not much speed or cost efficiency was gained by what amounted to a simple form factor shift. A few years ago that began to change in quant with the advent of DIY platforms, micro-surveys and more recently automation and the same thing is now happening with qual. Advances in recruiting tech (sample APIs for instance) as well as integrating new tools such as video analysis, text analytics, and AI-driven probing are making qual much more efficient, cheaper, and closer to real-time. That is driving interest in the next generation of online qualitative tools.

We are also witnessing the emergence of the next gen generation of social media analytics offerings, with the new players entering the market more focused on using social data to drive segmentation, nonconscious measurement, data synthesis or advanced analytics.  Clients have gone through the hype cycle as well and understand the value and use cases for social data (or text in general) and are now anxious to explore how the new class of tools can deliver more value from their predecessors.

Everything else on the list shows continued interest in both established and emerging approaches on a more focused level. Obviously Analytics, Gamification, Research Automation, Sample, Image-based Data Collection, Shopper Insights, Video-based Research, Behavioral Economics Research, Facial Scanning, and Mobile Research continue to be of high interest across the board.

Just as the GRIT Emerging Technology adoption rankings can be used to help gauge where investment dollars should be spent, I think this analysis of where client interest lies at IIeX is another vital data point to consider during the strategic planning process. Of course clients come to IIeX looking for “new stuff” , and we also tend to attract suppliers that fit that mold so there is a certain amount of confirmation bias here and we should not assume that traditional suppliers or modes are not in demand; of course they are. However, there is no denying that at the very least this list points to where the industry is going and it’s well worth exploring what this means to your business.

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5 responses to “Who Were The Top 40 Most In-Demand Research Suppliers at IIeX NA?

  1. Actually it confirms my view that a lot of so called disruptive tools are truthfully more talked about than practiced. Look at the lack of interest in things like Gamification, Co-creation, Story telling and Behavioural economics. In fact old standbys seem to still be the main areas of interest even amongst this so-called savvy sample – online qual, mobile research and (horror of horrors) full service market research.

  2. This is of course great news for us proponents of applied neuroscience (a slightly broader term than “neuromarketing”). For many years, it’s been one of those moments where it has been certain that there IS a substantial added value of a particular method, but that it has not succeeded in translating into actual choice on the client side. I find this very reassuring, and especially in a forum that is all about innovation within marketing.

    As the technologies now are more stable and scalable, the next steps are already employing neuro outside the lab environment and into people’s homes, amusement parks and other places of daily activities. So I expect and hope that applied neuro — when done right — can become even more dominating in this picture.

  3. Hi Leonard. Can you share a soundbite re demand for native mobile qual / community platforms i.e. native mobile first apps that leverage push notifications versus mobile web based platforms that still leverage email for notifications etc. Any demand for more social / instagram like UXs versus web based tools? Thanks.

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