Inside the Annual TMRE EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award

TMRE 2014 is a proud host of two of the market research industry’s most prestigious awards: The EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award, which recognize outstanding and innovative work in the market research industry today.  I recently sat down with Tom Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics – OdinText and Chuck Miller, President, Digital Marketing & Measurement, LLC (DM2), discuss the awards and why TMRE keeps them coming back.

So, where did these prestigious awards begin?

Back in early 2007 The Next Generation Market Research networking group was founded - the first market research group of its kind created to address the stagnant slow moving situation at the time. The group mission stated, ‘The market has changed, the customers have changed, why should consumer insight be the same?’ 

“Initially, it was a group for those of us who wanted to use more advanced analytics and work across different and larger data,” Anderson explained. “As time went on, and everyone started talking about ‘Innovation.’ the group actually played quite a different role as well. Many of the members are very senior and experienced research folks, and while welcoming new techniques and methods from the data and text mining fields for instance, we also wanted to vet these new techniques being suggested to make sure they were methodologically sound and actually useful.”

Today, with more than 20,000 members, NGMR remains a resource for these types of discussions, and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award celebrates not just Innovation for the sake of Innovation, but Innovation that truly is disruptive.  The award recognizes companies and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership as change agents and made significant contributions to harnessing disruptive innovation to drive research industry progress. This year's winners will receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to present the winning case study during this session.

“This is an award by researchers for researchers, and it’s not just about innovation for the sake of innovation, it’s about sound innovation that makes sense for our field,” said Anderson.

For the past 15 years, EXPLOR has been a showcase for research innovation, highlighting some of the best research in our industry. According to Miller, over the years the winner has been an approach that was ahead of its time, but they would eventually embrace – such as insights gathered through a mobile diary.  Other times it highlighted groundbreaking work that was meaningful to the client but that hasn’t become mainstream – such as assessing consumer behaviors using GPS enabled shopping carts.  “In all cases, EXPLOR gives us exposure to great research creativity, and generally a glimpse of things to come,” he explained.

Today, The EXPLOR award recognizes breakthrough innovation in technology as applied to market research.  This award is a case study competition, so it highlights a real-world research problem and solution.  According to Miller, case studies must be formed around a client-driven business problem, then demonstrate how the client and supplier team applied new techniques to deliver insight.  So, EXPLOR is less about using a cool new tool, and more about how innovation solved an important problem for a client organization. This year's winner will receive a complimentary pass to TMRE and the opportunity to present the winning case study during this session. This year, the EXPLOR Award is brought to you by DM2. 
Anderson and Miller value sound innovation and want to reward it, but they also realize that the word “Disruptive Innovation” can mean a lot of different things, and they can’t really tell how disruptive something will be until it’s been around for a while. They favor individuals and companies that have demonstrated that they can be useful and widely adopted, but also like to see brand new software and methods and try to give them the benefit of the doubt while scrutinizing them under the methodological lens.

So, what does winning one of these prestigious awards mean for a company or an individual? There are many nominations each year, so even being selected as a finalist is something to be proud of, according to Anderson. “In a competitive industry such as this, it’s obviously beneficial to point to an award like NGMR as a sign of distinction. Last year a prominent market research blogger even referred to the NGMR award as ‘The Nobel Prize of the Marketing Research Industry.”

People are always thankful EXPLOR provided them an opportunity to share their passion about a tool or technique, or their company as a whole, according to Miller. “The award can call attention to very deserving employees to help them advance their careers, but at the end of the day I know these people are more driven by their passion around innovation – and the desire to do things that have never been done.”

For this year, nominations are open and Anderson and Miller have already received a couple of interesting submissions. Unfortunately, most submissions come in during the final week, which does not give them any time to request additional information from an applicant if needed. If you are considering applying, you are encouraged to apply early.  Additionally, the committee members each evaluate and rate several submissions, so they also encourage visuals or videos etc. if available. 

“The hardest thing is selecting one single winner in one of our three categories, when there are two or three individuals or firms that are close,” explained Anderson. “That’s why we do encourage people to resubmit the next year. We have had winners who won the third time/year around!”

Two things excite Miller about the EXPLOR award on an annual basis. “First, I really enjoy discussing with the judges all of the creative applications people are using in our business today.  It’s always a broad array of techniques used to address a variety of business problems, which is fascinating,” he said. “Second, and more importantly, it’s really exciting to see the winning team receive recognition for the great job they’ve done.  Generally there is some risk-taking involved as they’ve applied creativity to solve a problem, so it’s great to see their work validated and their efforts rewarded.”

Each year Anderson participates in TMRE because to him, TMRE is the largest marketing research event with the biggest key notes and venue, which has continued to be the logical home for The Nobel Prize of Marketing Research.  In addition, the post award break out session with the winners, which this year will be moderated by a known industry disruptor and entrepreneur, Kristin Luck, President & CMO at Decipher and founder of WIRe (Women in Research).  

According to Miller, TMRE is a great forum for the EXPLOR Awards because it brings together the highest caliber client and provider-side researchers. 
He added, “These folks are the change agents in their organizations who can benefit from exposure to leading-edge research innovation.  It’s great that TMRE and the EXPLOR/NGMR awards push our industry forward in this way.”

All EXPLOR Award and NGMR Disruptive Innovator Award entries must be received by September 8, 2014. For award submission details, click here:

To register for TMRE 2014 this October in Boca Raton, FL click here:

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Amanda Ciccatelli

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