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Top-10 Most Innovative Research Firms

February 15th, 2011 · 7 Comments

Next Gen Positioning - Many newer smaller firms including Anderson Analytics, Brain Juicer, Itracks, Peanut Labs and Vision Critical are competing with big boys for hearts and minds of research professionals

Lenny Murphy posted an interesting sneak peak analysis of one question in the Greenbook Industry Trends study earlier today.

Full disclosure, Anderson Analytics was one of about a dozen research entities that participated in the GRIT study this year (not in study design or hosting, but mainly to encourage response among clients and Next Gen Market Researchers). One survey question, “What Research firms, if any, do you think are most innovative?” concerned me a bit. However I was ensured IP address and other methods would be employed so gaming of responses would be difficult. Naturally there may also be some bias because of various sample sources included, but I think the insights from these results are still rather interesting.

I was both surprised and delighted to see Anderson Analytics mentioned by so many. While several NGMR members took part in the study, they represent a very broad mix of client and supplier side researchers from various companies and countries. What surprised me more, until I thought about it, was that researchers who see Anderson Analytics as innovative are very similar to those who view Nielsen or TNS as innovative!

As many of you know, I’ve tried hard to differentiate from the traditional top 5 companies, pushing the idea of ‘Next Gen Market Research’, even founding an award for “Disruptive Innovation” given out at The Market Research Event last year. Meanwhile, from the business side, Anderson Analytics has also been very cutting edge in terms of being the first firm to leverage text analytics in ad-hoc market research, utilizing facebook widgets for research and also screen scraping various forums including one large project together with Linkedin. Last but definitely not least, we’ve also been working hard to develop our text analytics software (OdinText). So I was a bit concerned that I, the firm, is viewed as innovative by pretty much the same researchers who would view my former employer TNS as innovative!

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and so I’m choosing to see these similarities as a positive. While I’ve pushed hard for inclusion of data and text mining for use in both market and social media analytics, I’ve always felt that as much as possible, new techniques should be based in sound methodology. I’ve also said several times that conducting a proper segmentation will tell you far more about your customers and their use of social media than any research project you can dream up on Twitter. Finally, I strongly believe classical training and understanding of proper research methodology is of utmost importance for any successful Next Gen Market Researcher.

That said, viewing the chart above I’m guessing that, positioning wise, most research firms are targeting and moving towards the same upper left quadrant. In such case, we are competing for the same, limited group of research professionals who value a fair amount of new innovative techniques but also look for these to be founded on classical research knowledge.

What I’m wondering about are those firms who may be moving toward the upper right hand quadrant. What kind of customers are here?

Brain Juicer which was seen as innovative by far more researchers than any other firm may be taking this other direction. At the recent MRIA event in Toronto, Brain Juicer’s Will Goodhand spoke about their “Digividuals”. Basically as far as I understood the consept, an a priori segmentation which then profiles these segments using ‘robots’ who tweet like these a priori segments. As a quant researcher who usually prefers my segments to be data driven, and my data sources to be as ‘real’ and quantifiable as possible, I had a very hard time wrapping my head around this new methodology.

However, it may end up working very well for them? Certainly there should be more blue ocean towards the upper right corner compared to the upper left were both large whales and many small killer sharks will soon turn the ocean a very dark red.


Tags: Anderson Analytics · Itracks · Market Research · Marketing research · OdinText · Text Analytics · Tom H. C. Anderson · Top Market Research · Uncategorized · innovation · next gen market research · tomhcanderson

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Twitter Trackbacks for Top-10 Most Innovative Research Firms [] on // Feb 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm

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  • 2 Susan Griffin // Feb 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Tom: Thanks for the kind mention. We are thrilled when we see evidence that BrainJuicer is perceived not only by our clients, but by our peers and worthy competitors as thought leaders and innovators. DigiViduals(tm) is a truly a very new way of generating insights in social media. I can understand that it might be hard to wrap your head around how it works, compared with typical text mining solutions that count brand or category mentions, and place them in a sentiment context. We would be happy to talk anyone who wants to understand a bit more about how it works and the rich insights our “research robots” have been revealing. But most importantly, thanks for passing on the GRIT results to the NGMR community. Much appreciated.

  • 3 Tom H C Anderson // Feb 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @Susan Yes, congratulations.

    Curious RE your methodology. Which types of clients have been most receptive so far? Also, what kind of common objections if any do you get?

  • 4 Derek Sawchuk // Feb 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Let the red waters flow!

    Congrats Tom and crew and this well-deserved accolade. Receiving this type of third party validation is a testament to your efforts in pushing the industry forward and leading the way in text analytics. We at Itracks are thrilled to be in such great company.

  • 5 Tom H C Anderson // Feb 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    Thank you so much! I’m very thankful to all Next Gen market Researchers who thought enough of what Anderson Analyics has been doing to vote for us. The industry is more competitive than ever, and everyone is trying their hardest to innovate, that’s why they had so many various companies mentioned.

    I’m not at all surprised to see Itracks in there. I think the positioning for both Anderson and Itracks right smack in the middle with some of the Honomichl Top 5 means we’ve been able to be innovative, without losing any respect among the classical mainstream market research professionals. No easy task.

    Itracks marketing recently has been phenomenal! Building lots of awareness and community online. Cool tools helping to transition qualitative online (I know this is tougher than with surveys), and all while not alienating the more quantitative like myself at all. ;) Congratulations and great job!

  • 6 Susan Griffin // Feb 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Actually Tom, it has been quite interesting. Uptake in DigiViduals ™ [and in all of our challenger methodologies, truth be told] runs the gamut: FMCG, Food and Beverage, Pharma/Healthcare, Financial Services, Electronics, even some of our non-profit clients. And we recently got interest for Digi’s in Automotive.

    DigiViduals(tm) won the Gold Award for Research Innovation at the 4A’s Jay Chiat Strategy Festival late in 2010, so the advertising planning community is very interested in how the methodology can bring segmentation studies to life!

    Anyone who recognizes insights as a key component in the innovation funnel, or as essential in the process of developing effective communications programs, but also recognizes insight generation as a key thorny research challenge, seems to be giving it a look.

    The push back . . . hmmm. Well like all innovative methodologies, there is the skittishness when any solution is new. We don’t have years worth of norms to fall back on, for DigiViduals(tm), of course not, at least not yet. Internal client stakeholders have to be won over to any methodology they are not used to. The methodology is a bit complex to understand at first glance in exactly how the technology works.

    And let’s face it: not everyone in the market research industry fully undertands nor are they fully comfortable with how social media works, nor do they really understand how any of us can all mine it for any kinds of data, much less a more sophisticated approach like DigiViduals(tm).

    Those researchers who are looking for “safe” or “insurance policy” solutions are slower to commit. But we are gratified that there is so much enthusiasm to embrace the methodology across disciplines, at different stages of the innovation funnel, across catagories, across business stakeholders. This is not just text analytics for reputation monitoring . . . it is real insight generation.

    And we are gratified that there are so many companies willing to give it a try, which is how all innovations move up the adoption curve. I suspect that is because the traditional approaches to creating a pen portrait of segmentation groups are so dry, lifeless and inactionable, and ultimately unsatisfying.

    Noone questions that social media presents unparalleled opportunities for the market research industry to uncover consumer insights without asking a single question. The challenge, which I think is part of the reason BrainJuicer (no space, by the way) is perceived for our innovation, is that our Labs team takes any technology breakthroughs or new learning in the social sciences beyond the obvious to create some highly inventive and frankly game changing approaches to solving any research problems.

    We are by no means alone in this endeavor. If there is any question about the GRIT study possibly it is because our market researcher peers who participated, (and we are grateful that they gave us such high marks), revealed no real “wow, these guys are new and great” names in the Top Ten. There were some well respected firms in the top ten who seem to be perceived by the survey respondents as innovators, but arguably they represent the status quo. While BrainJuicer apears in the “less established” and “experimental” portion of the matrix, we are by no means the new kids on the block. We have been serial innovators, and award winners, since 1999!

    Perhaps the full results will uncover some really Innovative Innovators below the Top Ten!

    We would argue that the industry as a whole needs to redouble its efforts, not to be innovative for innovation sake, but rather to develop new and better ways to understand and predict consumer behaviour in order to enable our respective clients to do better marketing and create more successful new products.

    So we would welcome the industry identifying some real “bright lights” who would give us all a run for our money! Not just for simply creating new research methodologies, but for creating disruptive, disintermediating, more effective methodologies that set the bar higher for the whole industry.

    But enough . . . hope I answered your questions. If you wanted to interview Orlando Wood, who heads up BrainJuicer Labs or any of our other BrainJuicer execs to give your readers more about what BrainJuicer thinks are the next new frontiers in research innovation, I would be happy to arrange that.

    And kudos to you for contributions that led to your rank in the Top Ten MR innovators as well.


  • 7 John A. Fallone // Feb 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Tom, it is a tremendous honor that Anderson Analytics has been recognized as one of the Top-10 Most Innovative Research Firms.

    I can appreciate your initial surprise, that even though your firm has differentiated itself from traditional research entities in numerous ways, including bleeding edge utilization of text analytics, distinctive leveraging of technology and creative approaches for more profound insights–it was viewed as “innovative”–while at the same time, some of the more “traditional” research organizations received the same accolade.

    In your view, what might this finding indicate in terms of how client and supplier side researchers actually define “innovation” relative to research firms?

    In a sense, what puzzles me is that if we agree that indeed the market has changed–and customers have changed–how can more conventional approaches to research vs. leveraging a suite of more robust, creative solutions and technologies, BOTH be considered innovative?

    If I may ask, what are your thoughts on this?

    My take is that as relatively new, brilliant stars are rising–providing new insights, older–even somewhat dimming luminaries, continue to remain for a time in the skies and are given recognition for the light they’ve historically shared.

    May Anderson Analytics’ differentiation, creative methodologies and unique selling proposition continue to yield new light and insights, that bring outstanding value to its clients–and disruptive innovation to the research community as a whole, for many years to come.

    Kindest regards,
    John A. Fallone
    President, Biz Dev Consultant & CEO

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