The Insights Revolution: A Time to Take Action

By Maru/Matchbox Archives
Cover image for  article: The Insights Revolution:  A Time to Take Action

You say you want a revolution ... well, you know, we all want to change the world.  But Andrew Grenville (pictured above), Chief Research Officer of consumer intelligence firm Maru/Matchbox, has a two-word solution for revolutionizing the world of market research -- question everything!  Grenville's new book, published by Maru/Matchbox, is a call to action for a more effective insight generation that will support business strategies and not just marketing plans.

The Insights Revolution: Questioning Everything, informed by Grenville's three-decade career in research, makes the case that despite an explosion of information, business leaders are starved for wisdom.  Interviews with over 30 global leaders in research, marketing and strategy proved that all industries face similar challenges, and while media owners have made major strides, "much research has been conducted for non-insight related uses," Grenville remarked during a recent interview with MediaVillage.  The book illustrates a preoccupation with reporting and measurement that may be holding back the media industry.  "We need to move past that, to providing solutions to the question of, what do we do next?" he said.

In some cases, research has come out of the media backroom and into the forefront of business decision-making, as Grenville learned from interviews with Discovery's Executive Vice President of Programming and Research, Mike Greco, and Howard Shimmel, former Chief Research Officer at Turner, among others.

There is also the trend of media owners and other organizations bringing in talent to generate insights internally, a DIY-approach to research that helps move from reporting to solutions.  The most successful organizations will treat external partners as if they are employees.  "It's not just fulfilling the job and delivering some data," Grenville explained.  "It's about being truly focused on the business problem.  In order to do that, you have to be part of the team."

In his book, Grenville suggests that today's market research firms will go the way of the dinosaurs, which is not as hopeless as it may sound.  While we know dinosaurs to be extinct, their agile descendants live on in the form of birds.  "Big suppliers are going to have to fragment and change and evolve in ways that we could not imagine now," Grenville said.  "We're not going to have the pterodactyls flying around.  We're going to have the small nimble birds.  These will survive."

The practices that Grenville advocates -- building a rapport with respondents and putting people first -- were tenets of his own research for the book.  "I reached out to people and asked which subjects resonated with them," he said.  "I gave them choices.  I gave them input."  Outdated research methodologies, now in question, often put the respondent on the defensive.  "Asking people 'why' is not just unhelpful; it is dangerously misleading," Grenville asserted.

The misconstrued definition of an "insight" also stands to be misleading.  Grenville writes that an insight is not the end goal but the transition between data and decision, and while "insight" can be an overused and mislabeled term, it is preferable to "research" which is a process, not an outcome.  "[We have] to focus on decisions and where we want to head," he said.  "That stops you from falling into the trap of saying, 'Okay, I have a bunch of numbers.  I'm going to tell you what those numbers are and that's going to be our insight.'  Well, no, that's not an insight.   That's a research result."

Review results, make insights and take action is the rallying cry for this revolution.

To purchase Grenville's book, visit

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