How to Measure Innovation in MRX

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When I joined Behaviorally as Group President in 2021, I brought with me three closely held beliefs:

  1. The industry has many interesting tech providers and insights leaders with different areas of category expertise. I see this repeatedly in my work with ESOMAR, organising and leading the Insight250, and serving on the Board of the MRS and working with other industry bodies. But few, if any, have the clarity of vision and singular focus exemplified by Behaviorally, on fundamental challenges faced by shopper insights practitioners and marketers in consumer goods companies, on the paths to influencing behaviour and driving consumer choice. That vision is part of why I joined.

  2. Without that clarity of vision and singularity of focus, any innovation strategy for a research agency is rudderless and merely based on what tech can do and not on the business problems innovation can tackle in new and better ways.

  3. The landscape for manufacturers is changing radically due to COVID, geopolitical factors, and the explosive new ways in which consumers can shop and buy products they want and need in digital and physical retail. Without a solid legacy of contextual understanding and specific category expertise in consumer retail, along with best-in-class research tools and practices, the path to managing the changes that shape the future of commerce are merely lucky guesses.

Regardless of how retail will continue to evolve (and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of tech enabled retail evolutions on the horizon), there is really only one moment that counts for brands. That is the moment when the combination of all marketing initiatives and factors that drive shopper behaviour results in a purchase of your product. Agencies that fail to understand the simplicity of that objective will fail to create innovative products and services that help clients achieve sustainable, predictable growth.

Innovation has always been a bit of a buzzword and, frankly, a “fuzzy” proxy for describing research consultancies who are providing real value to their clients in this tumultuous time of change.

It may not be a perfect measure, but the one industry initiative that attempts to measure that attribute of innovation is the annual survey conducted by GreenBook, from which they distil their GRIT Business and Innovation Report. And the survey is now out and available for a very short time for industry practitioners to complete here.

There is really only one moment that counts for brands. That is the moment when the combination of all marketing initiatives and factors that drive shopper behaviour results in a purchase of your product.

Crispin Beale, Group President, Behaviorally Tweet

We are proud to have achieved the highest debut in the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies ranking in the GRIT report last year, particularly considering our rebranding as Behaviorally is only a year old. We suspect that the reason so many clients, colleagues, and suppliers ranked us highly on the innovation metric has been our relentless commitment to improving our solutions to drive real client value. Over the past year, we have experienced enviable client adoption of an array of new products that define and diagnose factors influencing consumer behaviour and choice (PackFlash®, Flash.AI™, and even, as part of our eFluence™ subsidiary, our newest e-commerce image optimisation tool Flash.PDP™).

These innovations apply our simple behavioural framework, our legacy of expertise, and best-in-class AI image recognition technology to leverage our expansive database for normative and predictive shopper marketing KPIs. It is our fervent hope our achievements in developing groundbreaking new solutions will place us high in the rankings again this year. But that will only happen if our efforts are perceived to have, in fact, delivered the value and insights clients depend on to win.

We urge everyone who meets the true criteria for innovation, at least as we have defined it (or knows an agency or brand who does), to complete the GRIT survey. The industry needs all our voices, identifying stellar agencies and brands alike who are setting the performance bar high and making us all strive harder to deliver value that accelerates clients’ abilities to realise value from their marketing.

I encourage clients, colleagues, suppliers and even our competitors to urge all the members of your teams to contribute to this important survey.

The fact of the matter is that if we, as industry leaders, equate innovation to providing real value to clients in a changing world, we know it when we see it and who better than us to make our opinions about it heard.

The Author

Crispin Beale is the Group President at Behaviorally, leading the Managing Director teams and championing clients globally. He is also the CEO of Insight250 and a strategic advisor to mTab. Crispin has been a Board Director (and Chairman) of the Market Research Society for over 15 years and UK ESOMAR Representative for nearly a decade. He has been a pioneer in the use of tech and AI. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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