GRIT report: Innovation still top of mind for market researchers

Researchers continue to look at technology and innovation to solve some of their ongoing challenges.

Earlier this month, Greenbook released the 27th edition of the GRIT (GreenBook Research Industry Trends) Report, using data collected in Q1 & Q2 of 2020. With a focus on business dynamics and the role of innovation, the report was much anticipated in the market research community - especially because things changed so rapidly in our world during the data collection period. Were there any seismic shifts in the industry when it came to market researcher's attitudes and expectations? 

While some of the shifts during the midst of the COVID-19 crisis were covered in the report, most of the findings underscored the ongoing need for innovation. This hasn’t changed, as market researchers on both sides of the marketplace - buyers and sellers - are still seeking new ways to impact speed, quality, and efficiency when it comes to insights. In fact, these “pillars” of our future ecosystem have likely been exacerbated by recent events, as we need even faster answers to our most pressing questions. 

Again, researchers are looking to technology and innovation to solve some of these ongoing challenges. The report explores buzz topics, innovation strategies, adoption of automation platforms, and unmet needs in the industry. Just some of the themes we saw included:

  • Quality is still vital: This boils down to better business recommendations and better insights from the data. One GRIT respondent quote said it starts with the research participant: “If we can’t get quality respondents, we can’t get quality data, so we have nothing.” Quality wasn’t just seen as the job of suppliers or sample and panel companies either. Researchers on the other side of the equation are looking for innovative tools and research technology that will “enable us to grow our current skills while ensuring quality.”
  • Automation for speed: Shifting from a buzz topic to real-world applications, automation is still important on both sides of the marketplace. It is being leveraged for everything from survey design to data analysis and from report writing to infographics. “Analyzing unstructured data in all its forms and automating the reporting process showed the greatest levels of adoption across the board.” Automation is already showing its promise at nearly every stage of the research process, and confidence is growing in this technology. For example, Harmoni automates data integration processes through to analysis, reporting, visualization, dashboards, sharing, and data alerts. It’s just a faster path to the insights we all need. 
  • AI and Machine Learning are buzzing: Respondents ranked Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) as the tech that was top of mind for them, with 30% of suppliers mentioning these disciplines and 25% of buyers. The report cites an interest in these technologies is related directly to “the push for greater efficiency and quality on everyone’s mind.” There is a belief that AI/ML can increase speed, like automation, and impact our overall understanding of people in an “evolving world of data.” Still, many indicated that they don’t see the practical applications or proven results of using these technologies quite yet. This is very similar to past GRIT reports. 
  • Innovation is being formalized. Innovation (which is what this edition of the report was about, after all) is no longer a concept but has company initiatives and budgets earmarked. Roughly 45% of respondents indicated that they have staff dedicated to innovation, while well more than half collaborate with partners who can bring innovation to the table. We’ve started to see leadership titles such as “Chief Innovation Officer” and even company KPIs and OKRs related directly to innovation. Many are looking to technology built with the market researcher’s job in mind to drive digital transformation in the company and create efficiencies so more time can be spent internally on forward-thinking initiatives. 

These are just a few of the key trends that stood out to us. In the full GRIT report is commentary from key industry leaders and a comprehensive analysis of the collected data. While our industry ecosystem will feel the effects of global change for some time, it is heartening to see that some of our core expectations for the industry's trajectory remain. We show a continued commitment to innovation and moving the industry forward toward greater quality and efficiency. 

For the complete GRIT report, visit

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