The Q2 edition of Asia Research reported on the image of the Big 4 market research firms in Singapore. But what about the image of the array of smaller independent firms that operate in the market?
Since the market is becoming more fragmented, the brand image results of these smaller firms can only be treated as indicative, but do highlight how the independent firms jostle for position in a relatively crowded market. We have looked at a selection of the leading independent agencies where clients within the Asia Research survey had some impressions of the independent firms.
Acorn – this is one of the most established and largest of the independent research firms in Singapore. However, their penetration in the market is relatively low. While known to 80% of research buyers in Singapore, only 8% had used them in the last year. This suggests they concentrate on fewer sectors, but presumably quite large accounts. Consequently, they are something of an ‘unknown’ in the industry and few research buyers had any view on their brand image.
Added Value Saffron Hill – one of the ‘star boutique qualitative agencies’ of the last decade, this Synovate breakaway was acquired by the Kantar Group and now operates within the Added Value group of research companies. Somewhat more established than other independent firms, one client commented about their “long and good working relationships” with the firm. Similar to other independent agencies, they are rated quite highly for having ‘high quality senior management’ which is often the selling point of these boutique agencies. This is backed by somewhat higher than average impression of the quality of project managers and receives more votes than average on client servicing.
Asia Insight – like Acorn, Asia Insight is another long-established local research firm, and therefore has relatively high awareness in the market. It is one of the few independent agencies with in-house data collection and therefore received more votes than average for data collection quality. They were ranked third for being an ‘up-and-coming’ agency, although from this survey did not show many points of differentiation in terms of brand image. One client commented “they make the effort to understand the client’s needs”.
BDRC Asia – one of the newest no prescription pharmacy firms in Singapore, they won the top vote ‘up-and-coming’ agency, i.e. growing and increasing their profile. Indeed brand recall of BDRC Asia has grown significantly in the last year to 70% which, for an agency less than two years old, suggests quite active marketing of their services. It receives more votes than average for quality of senior management and having innovative research solutions, e.g. cutting edge research methods. Client feedback includes “innovate research and creative reports”, “thinking outside of the box”, and “well thought out presentation with strong recommendations”.
Flamingo Research – unlike many of the new entrants to the Singapore market over the last few years, Flamingo has gained good traction in the market. While still a relative unknown compared to the more established independent agencies, among those who know the company they are seen as being ‘different’, indicated by ‘cutting edge research techniques’ and the quality of their reports. One client quoted them as “being very innovative, going beyond the brief, and not subscribing to conventional solutions”. They are also rated quite well for client serving and quality of project managers.
Kadence – ranked second for being an ‘up-and-coming agency’, their brand image is stronger than average in the quality of staff and for the levels of client servicing. Client feedback about this agency was very much about servicing, e.g. “fast response”, “accommodating and flexible”, and “keeping the client posted on progress of fieldwork”.
ORC International – this is another relatively new agency in Singapore who has been quite aggressive. Since 2012, they have significantly increased their brand recall among clients and their market penetration. It does receive a few more votes for being ‘different from other agencies’ indicated by “going the extra mile” and “working more closely with clients”.
What is interesting is how the specific client feedback on the independent agencies contrasts with that of the Big 4 research firms. For the latter, the brand image is far more about the strength of their brands, reputation, and longevity in the market. The big firms also seek to leverage off their own research, e.g. syndicated studies that they can market to a range of clients.