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The Revenge of Qual

Jeffrey Henning (@JHenning) recaps the 2014 GRIT Report findings:

The 14th edition of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends report was published last week, reviewing findings from a survey of 2,229 researchers around the world: 1,786 suppliers and 443 clients. Key topics included which research methodologies are used and perceptions of innovative research firms.

After use of quantitative research methods outgrew use of qualitative techniques in 2012, in the most recent survey respondents reported that qualitative techniques, including online communities and traditional qual, saw stronger growth year over year than quant methods. Call it "The Revenge of Qual"!

How has your use of any of these types of research changed?

Stable Growth/Decline

research change
N= 2,229; Source: GRIT Report, Winter 2014

In fact, online communities enjoyed the strongest growth of any technique: net growth of 30% for online communities (subtracting those respondents reporting decline from those reporting growth) and net growth of 24% for social media analytics. Despite the increasing press attention that Big Data received in 2013, it somewhat lagged the other techniques, outgrowing only ethnography.

Use change this year: % difference


N= 2,229; Source: GRIT Report, Winter 2014

The biggest disconnects between suppliers and clients were in online communities and social media analytics. Suppliers reported net growth of 33% for online communities, while for clients the net growth was only 21%. Clients, meanwhile, were reaching outside traditional market research suppliers for social media analytics: 37% of clients reported net growth there, compared to 26% of suppliers.

Qualitative Innovators

Since 2010, GreenBook has been asking respondents which research firms they regard as most innovative. This year, respondents were asked to name the three most innovative brands (unaided awareness), then rank them. While traditionally quantitative researchers have predominated GreenBook's list of GRIT Top 50 Innovative Firms, qualitative research firms had a strong showing this year, including – in its debut – GutCheck:

8. InSites Consulting

10. Communispace

12. 20/20 Research

17. iTracks

23. Mesh

24. Revelation Global

27. QualVu

30. GutCheck

31. Dub

34. iModerate

44. KL Communications

50. Focus Forums

Source: GreenBook's Combined Top 50 with Rollups

There's plenty of other fascinating information in the report, including commentary from industry executives such as Gutcheck's very own Matt Warta. You can freely download the GRIT Report, Winter 2014 from the GreenBook blog.

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