Six Things I Learned From the Latest GRIT Report

GRIT Report 2019Posted by Ray Poynter, 16 July 2019

The new GRIT report has been released and it makes interesting reading. You can access the full report and lots of associated goodies by clicking here. Here are six things I learned from the report.

1 The Key Opportunities
The key opportunities for market research and insights are AI (including machine learning), Automation, Big Data, and Data Analytics, and enabling Faster Decisions. What makes this list interesting is partly what is in the list, but partly what is not in the list. Agile is not a specific mention (the buzz may be fading on that one), sampling and data collection are not specific mentions, and nor is neuro.

2 Research Budgets Trending Down
In 2014 about 10% of clients said their budgets were decreasing, now in 2019 that number is close to 30%, and the downward trend is clear. One of the key drivers for many clients is to be able to do more with less. The hope is that AI and Automation (along with better processes) will facilitate more being done with less. The key drivers of clients whose budgets increased were an increased need for insights and the C-suite being convinced of the value of insight.

3 What Defines ‘Success’?
Most suppliers and most clients said that the vast majority of projects were successful. Both suppliers and clients defined success partly in terms of adding value and finding something new. But, beyond that there were differences. Suppliers tended to mention creativity, uniqueness, methodology, and technology – i.e. what they did. Clients tended to mention speed, access to the data, additional answers, service and aiding decision making – i.e. what they received.

4 Innovative Suppliers
The list of the most innovative suppliers has become more stable over the last few years, with most of the top ten being the ‘usual suspects’, companies that value being seen to be innovative. This list is headed by Ipsos, Nielsen, and Kantar – three companies that are large but also who focus on being innovative (in a way that was much less evident a few years ago). Beyond these three are the new innovative classics such as LRW, Zappi, System 1 and Insites Consulting – most of whom are strong in some regions (e.g. LRW in North America and Insites in Europe), but weak in some other regions.

The main message for research companies not in the top 50, and especially those not in the new sub-category listings (e.g. the most innovative Data Analytics) is that unless you are truly not innovative, you are doing yourselves an injustice by not promoting yourself better.

5 Research Innovation is Mostly Led by CPG/FMCG Companies
The importance of brands such as Unilever, P&G, Pepsi, Coke, Nestlé, Mars Wrigley, J&J, and Danone is clearly shown by the GRIT study. These companies dominate the list of the 25 most innovative clients, this sector does many more research projects than other sectors, and leaders such as Unilever’s Stan Sthanunathan and BV Pradeep and Danone’s Elaine Rodrigo have engaged the research world and help drive the industry forward.

By contrast, companies from sectors such as transport, retail, telcos, and finance tend to be absent from lists of companies making an impact on the research world.

6 Lack of Internal Cohesion
Perhaps the key finding from this study is the quantification of how little coherence there is inside both Supplier and Client organizations about the role of the organization. Participants were asked to identify their organization and then choose from a range of functions that describe their company (if a supplier) or team (if a client). In those cases where there were multiple responses from the same organization, there was substantial disagreement about whether the organization was full-service, analytics, strategic etc.


  1. Read the full report and access relevant parts of the background and trend data.
  2. Ensure you know your vision for your business and ensure it is shared throughout your organization.
  3. Focus on allowing clients to do more with less, with AI and automation facilitating this.
  4. Don’t confuse means with ends. If you are an agency, you need to be innovative in the tools you choose (the means), but your success with clients will be measured in terms of what is delivered, not how you created the results.
  5. And, if you are not listed in the top 50, and if you want to grow your customer base, think about what the top 25 are doing and put a plan into place.

4 thoughts on “Six Things I Learned From the Latest GRIT Report

  1. Thank you for mentioning also what’s not on the list such as Agile and Data Viz. It’s an important insight on the speed of uptake in our industry of new trends and how quickly they become a standard.
    I learned a lot from your summary, it distills the main points with a very meaningful commentary, as usual:)
    Thank you again!

  2. Thanks for the clear summary. Could it be that point 3 – what defines success?- is one of the main causes for point 2. Research budgets trending down? And that point 6 is an explanation for point 3? And if so, what are we doing to tackle these serious issues?
    Closing the gap between what decision makers expect and what researchers deliver starts with a closer cooperation between decision makers and insight managers (internal or external) to discuss which management issues are playing at the moment, which decisions need consideration. Followed by a clear description of what information is needed to assist the decision maker to take better decisions. Only after this has been done thoroughly a good choice of methods and techniques. Focus of the market research world seems to be too much on this latter issue. With the result that solid reports are presented that leave the decision maker with the question “So what?” (what should I decide?).

  3. I agree, as Ray summarized in point 3 – there maybe a clear disconnect between importance of agency “offerings” and client “needs” (which is also an opportunity).

    What confuses me is point 6 – I don’t find a clear explanation – except if the responses are from different departments, within the same organization. Otherwise, it’s almost alarming, that same-organization members are not clear of their main company function! I hope it’s the former.

  4. I think part of the reason will be that different teams are replying. But even then, if somebody from the data analytics and somebody from the qual team responds, I would hope that there would be a clear internal understanding of what the business vision was, and I think this data (if repeated) is worrying.

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