I began my career at AC Nielsen, and worked there for a few years. While I was in the Qualitative research team, I did on several occasions interact with Mr. Panchal - who at the time was heading AC Nielsen Retail, at off-sites and on a couple of projects.
He was the blue eyed boy of the company while I was there and hugely respected, not just within the company but with clients as well. While I can't say I knew him well, whatever I did interact with him, he came across as extremely sharp and driven (as one would expect). What is interesting to note is that even at that time 2004-2005 ish he was very keen to introduce new forms of technology to MR and was constantly looking to improvise and make MR processes more robust.
I remember one conversation where he constantly talked about keeping the customer at the core of whatever we did and how we needed to ensure that all output had a focus on client problem solving -
In terms of the industry per se - the negatives you laid out are bang on
- Receivables were always a problem - and by the end of it a large part of our time was spent in chasing up outstanding!
- Brand name at least for the bigger boys goes a long way - This because research and credibility go hand in hand. As a result breaking through established relationships is very difficult and if Nielsen were to launch similar/ competing products it is going to be a tough ask competing with them at least for the big names.
- Similar to an ad agency a research agency that has partnered with a brand and worked with them for several years understands the brand and its working inside out. This understanding is formed after years of working together and hence an agency becomes almost a custodian for the brand - and there exists a steep learning curve for a new entrant. This means that the newbies get the smaller/ less intensive projects (ad checks/ product tests etc.)
- Competition in that space is intense...However that being said , Tech seems to be a differentiator for MRSS and what little I read they seem to be breaking up the status quo (much needed in this industry) which means things can get interesting from here.
Disc: I have not read up on MRSS - just glanced at their website and hence my thoughts are extremely off the top based on whatever I have experienced.