GRIT on two pages – a short review of the 2020 GRIT Report

GRIT ReportPosted by Ray Poynter, 19 July 2020

The full GRIT report is 166 pages, here’s my take on the key points.


The data is mostly North America, with a chunk from Europe. From ESOMAR’s data, these 2 regions account for 80% of global MR spend Globally. The data is pre-COVID and very early COVID – so its predictive power is uncertain.

Many research companies lack a clear mission

Participants described the company they worked for in terms of different categories (e.g. Technology Provider, Full Service, etc). People from the same company often picked different categories – this needs addressing.

Want to be famous, don’t just focus on clients

GRIT lists the 15 ‘top of mind’ suppliers of ‘Strategic Consultancy. For clients the top three brands are McKinsey, Kantar and Ipsos. Interestingly most of the variation between Buyers and Suppliers is shared. If you want to be top of mind with buyers, you will be top of mind with suppliers – don’t waste effort focusing on just buyers – focus on being famous.

Very few projects fail, so you need to try harder

Buyers judge that fewer than 10% of projects do not meet the business needs, and 30% exceed the business needs. If you are a supplier, you need to get your failure figure as close to 0% as possible, and you need to get that ‘exceeds expectations’ figure way above 30%. If you want to be a ‘good’ supplier, you have to beat the average.

What makes a project more likely to exceed expectations? Two factors stand out for clients, ‘Better recommendations’ and ‘Better insights’.

Three things that create impact

Buyers have three key priorities. 1) Clear linkage to business objectives, 2) Deliver recommendations that grow the business, and 3) Executives act based on results. Suppliers should focus on making their client successful (IMHO, not the client company, the person or team who commissions the research). Suppliers need to show ‘Business Knowledge’. In terms of unmet needs, clients focus on creating business impact.

The data show a mismatch between buyers and suppliers in terms of things like storytelling and visualisation. Suppliers place these too high, compared with actionable recommendations that lead to action. Get the recommendations right, and then make it engaging. Clients are not interested in methodology, but they are interested in suppliers being research experts and in them being able to offer research solutions to business problems.

Suppliers are too focused on methodology, sampling and AI

For suppliers the buzz seems to be about sampling/methodology and AI/Machine Learning – all important topics. Many suppliers are trying to compete with each other by saying that other companies have bad data and stressing that their data is good. This discussion does not seem to change buyer behaviour. Suppliers need to differentiate between means and ends, they need to be good at the means and they need to deliver the ends.

What will clients do if budgets are cut?

The data tells us what we mostly know from the past, i.e. ‘do more with less’, ‘increase efficiency’, and ‘do fewer projects’. (BTW, most budgets are going to be cut IMHO.)

Innovative Suppliers

The 50 top innovative suppliers list shows a lot of movement, with 13 new entrants and 10 risers. Most of the successful brands are either large and innovative (for example Ipsos) or they are very clearly focused and determined to get their message out. For example, Cint, Confirmit, Reid Campbell and Recollective. Potentiate (who I’ve been working with since September last year) have debuted on the list, and are the only company based in Asia-Pacific – thanks to their focus on HX and determination to get the message out.

Automation is happening all around us

If it can be automated, it should be, and it will be. The key places where automation is already having a major impact are analysis (survey data, text data, other data) and outputs in the sense of charting/infographics.

Not much to say about COVID

The fieldwork finished early April, before the key problems had hit the world, so I would not take too much heed of the COIVID implications in the data. As a consequence, I would also ignore all the views about how well the industry was doing earlier this year, and how people thought the industry would be doing later this year.

So What?

If you are a Buyer?

If you want more actionable insights, you need to work closely with suppliers, commission companies who will make recommendations, and then shape their work.

If you are a Supplier?

The parts that are a commodity need to get cheaper, faster, easier – automation and AI are key. The parts that are consulting need to be brave and expert. Innovation, automation and storytelling are means not ends – use them to meet client needs, sell benefits not features.

If you supply the research industry?

Automation and AI are key. Your tools need to make researchers more efficient, reducing the cost to the end client, making the process easier, and helping deliver what is needed.

5 thoughts on “GRIT on two pages – a short review of the 2020 GRIT Report

  1. Ray

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m struck by the comments on “three things that create impact” which seem pretty consistent with the findings on the research you conducted on reporting and the issues that M<ike Sherman and I have been highlighting for years Specifically, teh most important need is to answer the question clearly, and issues of visualisation and storytelling are less important (that doesn't mean that they're not important). If you provide clear and concise answers that matters more than most of the "fluff" around that.



  2. Yes, BUT, engaging storytelling tell is not fluff, it is often what turns great recommendations into action, but it can’t turn bland research into action. 🙂

  3. An actionable, concise, clear answer is compelling – it addresses the reason clients do the research. Storytelling doesn’t have to be fluff, but usually is. A clear answer with two to four clear supporting points makes a great story – so if that is storytelling, all good. But most of the “stories” I see are not that.

  4. Thank you for the summarized version Ray! Very helpful and particularly poignant re the (IMHO, never-ending, since the beginning of time) focus by suppliers on means vs. end (suppliers know this yet continue to proclaim and get trapped by what they are doing that’s “new and different” — which is usually a methodology or tool. The MR industry was born to create meaning, to interpret the voice of the market into insights that have a “therefore, you should do this..” attached to them. Otherwise it’s really not an insight is it? Agree?

    Angela Muzzo
    The Clean Slate Shop

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