Are You Ready for 2014? Latest Trends from the GRIT Report

GutCheck CEO Matt Warta sat on a panel last week to discuss some key findings and trends from the 2014 GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report. He was joined by fellow industry thought leaders including Suzana Pamplona Miranda, Director of Global Strategic Insight for Johnson & Johnson, and David Brudenell, Executive Vice President of pureprofile.

The latest edition of the GRIT report surfaced several themes that were discussed on last week’s webinar:

  • Suppliers need to have a combination of technology and expertise
  • Market researchers need to do a better job of branding themselves
  • Innovation is the answer for “doing more with less”

The panelists were asked to comment on these themes and the overall client/supplier landscape as they see it.

What are you looking for in a market research partner?

The 2014 GRIT report showed 1) listening well and understanding client needs, 2) a good client / supplier relationship, and 3) knowledgeable staff as the top criteria for selecting a market research vendor, illuminating the idea that while technology is relevant, the human factor of knowledge and understanding is still sought after in market research.

Representing the client side, Suzana of Johnson & Johnson reaffirms this. “I need you to understand my needs,” she said. “Technology is part of the solution, but expertise is the other half. You should understand your client and provide the best quality product together. It’s not one or the other—it’s both.”

On the supplier side, Matt explained that while GutCheck has focused on early adopters of technology and more progressive clients, they recognize that service has to come into the picture as well. “Clients need someone who is an extension of their team in a more services type of way,” he said. “Our clients are tight on time, and we needed to wrap in a services layer to serve the needs of our customer base.”

David of pureprofile, which primarily serves research suppliers, brought up an educational element: “[Suppliers] may understand lots of things about data, but they shouldn’t expect the end client to understand.” In an industry with mass customization, he believes that market researcher companies should “provide clients with training and guidance, almost like taking them on a journey to figure out where the interest is and where those connections are.”

Transforming the market research department – is it all about differentiation?

Suzana agrees that it’s important for suppliers to differentiate themselves and show the value they add, especially as market research is being replaced by other things like social and agencies, and made it clear: “Budget will never be enough. Market researchers should work on branding themselves better too, since reputation is so important. We’re good at telling our marketing teams what they should do with their brand,” Suzana said, “but we’re not good at branding ourselves as researchers.”

What about suppliers? How can they differentiate? The report showed that the use of new technologies and methodologies (such as Agile Market Research) by vendors like GutCheck has increased; inferring that these are ways market researchers can rise above the fold and show value.

Branding can also derive from the use of content marketing, which both Matt and David champion. “We’re living in a content-driven society,” Matt said. “The people doing authentic content marketing and talking about their methodologies will be the winners in this industry.”

Innovation: tackling constraints and meeting demandsIncreased use of non-traditional technologies and techniques, budget constraints, increased use of tablets and smart phones, and client demand for innovation are all factors that have had the biggest impact on how suppliers collect data. According to the GRIT report, revealing the underlying need for market researchers to innovate more than ever, while still incorporating consumer feedback and insights.

For Suzana, working in partnership with market research partners leads to innovation. “If we just work internally [within the company], we may get to the same place, the same ideas,” she said. “But when we work and partner together [with market research], this helps us build the bridge to find the best solution with real, new discoveries and insights.”

From Matt’s perspective, innovation comes from pursuing the right kind of data in a quick and actionable way. “Big data might lead a client down the right road, but qualitative data helps them understand the why of the findings,” he states. With the right digital platforms, market research can test “out in the wild,” Matt says, thus producing quality insights with relatively low risk from minimum impressions, which can then be tested and refined further.

Matt summarizes it best by saying it’s about new methodologies (Agile Market Research) paired with new technologies (Instance Research Communities) and research expertise.

If you want to learn more, download the full GRIT report and read blogger Jeffrey Henning’s report recap.