Part of NewMR’s mission is to be at the boundaries of new ideas. To that end, NewMR, in partnership with Greenbook Blog and Research Access, surveyed 125 market researchers about sources of inspiration and change for the industry: Where do market research ideas come from?

While this is not a representative view of the industry, it provides a snapshot from those involved in discussion of advances in market research. Andrew Jeavons of Survey Analytics and Ray Poynter of NewMR discussed the results as part of The Festival of NewMR.

What has been the biggest driver of change for the market research industry? Respondents said:

  • “I think the biggest driver has been new technology.”
  • “Most of the advances have come from advances in available data.”
  • “I believe most of the ideas and advances happen at the cross-roads of real business issues and market research innovation … in other words, the researchers are identifying new or better methods / measures / software to solve a current business issue.”


Respondents cited the following older books as each having the biggest impact on market research practice and thinking:

  • 34% said The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
  • 31% said The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • 12% said Herd by Mark Earls


And more recent books:

  • 34% said Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • 20% said Predictably Irrational by Dan Airely
  • 16% said The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver


Andrew said, “Books of the last decade were about social impetus—how the crowd can make a good decision. More recent books have looked to psychology, so it’s an interesting change in the source of ideas.”

Thinking about where respondents get their information about new market research, respondents found blogs most useful, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter:

  • 44% said blogs
  • 19% said LinkedIn
  • 18% said Twitter


Andrew thought this might be an age effect, but younger people were not more interested in blogs than older people. Blogs are an alternative to reading a book. “I exhort people who actually have new ideas that you want to disseminate to try putting them out in a blog,” said Andrew.

Not surprisingly, then, the business thinker, writer or blogger deemed most relevant to today’s market researcher was Seth Godin, a blogger and author, selected by 46% of respondents, with Tom Peters, Warren Buffet and Guy Kawasaki all tied in the 9-10% range. “Apparently pontifications about purple cows have an influence,” said Andrew, referring to one of Seth’s books, Purple Cow. Again, there were no differences in these results by age.

Which region will most drive industry change in the future? 27% of respondents said North America, and another 27% said Asia Pacific. Andrew agreed about the Pacific Rim: “As their population becomes much more connected, going back to the idea technology will be in the innovator, they will become more important.”

39% of respondents said advances in technology are the most likely to improve the research we do over the next 10 years, with 18% referencing new thinking from psychology and the social sciences, such as was popularized in the books Thinking Fast and Slow and Predictably Irrational.

Ray was surprised at how many respondents confessed that they had not read any of the books. Andrew wasn’t as surprised. “A blog is 200, 300, maybe 500, words. It is easy to absorb, something you can do at lunchtime, when you are having coffee. This may explain why Seth Godin comes up so highly as an influencer. When we decide how to disseminate ideas, we have to make it in a way that people absorb it.”

Ray expanded on this saying, “Don’t start by having your own blog. Send it off to GreenBook, NewMR, Research Access. If it is not quite great, you will get some advice. Don’t think it has to be as long. Look at Reg Baker’s The Survey Geek, look at Annie Pettit: 300, 500, 600 words is what you want – one idea described nicely is really valuable to everyone else.”

Andrew continued his exhortation. “Write! It doesn’t have to be good. It will improve your personal and business life and the way that you convey your ideas to other people.”

Yes, you could be the source of the next great market research idea.

Survey Analytics has this summary of the full survey results (note that the totals are respondents, not percentages). You can watch the webinar recording as well.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.