Is the market research industry slow to innovate?

I posted the following on Next Gen Market Research Linkedin Forum. The discussion is a great read.

I’m intrigued by Tom’s contention that brands are becoming more innovative than agencies. I must admit that is our experience as well.

I agree with the comments about institutional conservatism and that the personality of the researcher is to avoid risk. After all, a very valid definition of market research is to reduce the risk of a decision. However, the greatest barrier to innovation that we encounter is that research firms have “tried and true” methods for making money. Therefore, research firms are VERY risk averse so innovations have two major hurdles, effectiveness and profitability. These are huge hurdles
for innovation.

Brands, on the other hand, have different hurdles. Though they can be risk averse, their hurdles are more likely to be effectiveness and cost. Cost is hugely different than profitability. Since we are in the online qualitative research arena, we are seeing brands coming directly to us more now than in the 10 years we have been in this space. Brand innovators are pushing their research firms to deliver, but when they don’t, they are bypassing them with increasing frequency.

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