AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms: The Forrester New Wave

In 2021, Forrester released the Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2021 report, highlighting the top platforms in the industry that can collect and analyze consumer insights.

An image of Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms

For the most part, this quarter’s report consists of the same vendors from the Forrester Wave™: Social Listening Platforms from 2020. But, before diving in, let’s define consumer intelligence and why it’s essential for brands.

What is Consumer Intelligence?

Consumer intelligence is collecting and analyzing customer data about a specific audience. With this information, marketers can learn about different consumer groups–what they care about, where they shop, what they consume, and the values they look for in the brands they value and their purchase behavior. Consumer intelligence is like never-ending focus groups.

Digital consumer intelligence data relies on primary research and quantitative social media analysis to collect consumer data within a specific market. Several broad types of research fall under the umbrella of consumer intelligence.

Primary research is a method for collecting consumer data directly from the source using several techniques. In this context, the researcher will design a study rather than leveraging existing consumer data available in the market. A primary research study can manifest in a few different ways:

  • 1:1 Interviews
  • Surveys & Questionnaires
  • Focus groups
  • Observational studies
  • In-depth interviews
  • Ethnographic research

One of the benefits of primary research is that it allows companies to collect consumer data specific to their needs by tailoring survey questions and aligning them to a business strategy. Additionally, conducting your primary research study gives you more control over how the data is collected and analyzed.

Quantitative analysis, on the other hand, relies on numerical data that has already been collected and is publicly available. This type of analysis is often used to track large-scale trends over time. Quant data can include everything from social media mentions to website traffic data. It’s important to note that quantitative analysis is not used to understand the “why” behind consumer behavior–that’s where qualitative market research comes in.

Why is Consumer Intelligence Important?

Consumer intelligence is critical for brands and marketers to make strategic decisions about their campaigns, content, programs, and messaging. By understanding the needs of consumers globally, brands can tailor their marketing campaigns to target these individuals more effectively, with more relevant content.

The data can also help with innovation, product development, and social customer service. By understanding what consumers want and need, brands can create products more likely to succeed in the marketplace by meeting unmet customer needs.

Finally, consumer intelligence can also help brands understand why customers are not buying their products or using their services. This information can be used to make necessary changes to increase sales and encourage customer loyalty.

What are the Challenges of Consumer Intelligence?

Consumer intelligence provides insights into consumer behavior that brands can use to make better marketing and product decisions. However, collecting and analyzing consumer data can be complex and challenging.

One of the biggest challenges is gathering enough data to be meaningful. Depending on the size and scope of the target market, this can require a significant investment of time and resources. In addition, once the data is collected, it must be sorted and analyzed to extract valuable insights. This can be a daunting task for even the most experienced research team, especially when dealing with unstructured data.

Another challenge is ensuring the data is accurate and representative of the target market. This can be difficult to control, especially when collecting consumer insights from third-party sources, like consumer intelligence platforms. Finally, brands must be careful not to violate consumer privacy rights and GDPR when collecting and storing consumer data.

Despite these challenges, consumer intelligence data is valuable for brands in every industry, regardless of size.

The Forrester New Wave: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms

Social media intelligence uses social analytics to identify patterns of behavior and conversation among a specific consumer or audience segment. Forrester’s New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms report features the platforms that provide this type of analysis.

Forrester seems unsure how they want to label the consumer intelligence category. They have been talking about consumer intelligence since late 2019, but this is the first report with that specific label. Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of movement on the Forrester Wave over the last 12 months. Perhaps the reason is that they are emphasizing AI implementation and integration as a part of their scoring algorithm.

In last year’s report, the Leaders were Brandwatch, Talkwalker, Netbase Quid, Synthesio, and Sprinklr. Both Talkwaker and Synthesio were right on the edge of Strong Performer and Leaders. This data is reflected below on the left side of the diagram.

In this more recent report, the Leaders are Talkwalker, Netbase Quid, and Synthesio. Looking at the right side of the diagram, it appears that Talkwalker is starting to separate itself from the other digital consumer intelligence platforms. For example, in October 2021, they acquired, an AI-driven platform that combines machine learning and human insights to uncover actionable consumer intelligence.

Based on last year’s report, Talkwalker’s current offering leads the other platforms and is also at the top 3 based on their current offering. Synthesio has the most robust strategy.

The Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2021The Strong Performers are Brandwatch, Linkfluence, and Sprinklr. Unfortunately, both Brandwatch and Sprinklr fell out of the Leader category.

Digimind and Resonate stand alone in the Contender category. While Digimind fell one category from last year, this seems to be Resonate’s first inclusion in the AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Wave.

It should also be noted that a few vendors were on last year’s report that did not make the current Forrester New Wave digital consumer intelligence report, most notably ListenFirst and Zignal Labs.

Forrester is very transparent in its scoring methodology. What is unclear is how vendors are selected to participate in the reporting process. From what I understand, there’s a revenue threshold for vendors to be invited to participate. Each vendor must disclose their revenue numbers to Forrester, which may not be ideal for some consumer intelligence companies.

It’s possible that some of these vendors may not have the capacity to participate in the process, given the stringent requirements that Forrester uses in their scoring process.

Are There Any Other Consumer Intelligence Platforms in the Market?

I have been tracking the social media monitoring space for the last decade. I wanted to compile a list of vendors I have worked with in the past and provide insights into their capabilities based on my personal experience. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but here are a few to consider:

Pulsar Platform: Pulsar has a powerful digital consumer insights offering. They provide cross-channel intelligence for social media and Google searches. They also have powerful visualizations, filtering, and analysis tools built-in to the platform. Pulsar is excellent for uncovering actionable insights and identifying customer needs, wants, and desires.

Infegy: Infegy is another platform with robust text analytics and natural language processing capabilities. They also build pre-defined audience segments, allowing their clients to layer on demographics, channels, interests, and affinities, making the data extremely valuable. They have recently released an interactive dashboard documenting the best brands on social media. I would classify Infegy more as a market research platform. Their consumer data and text analysis are among the strongest in the market.

Audience Analysis Platforms: I have started compiling a list of software vendors that analyze audiences. This is an area that I am very passionate about because it’s not the same as social listening. Forrester has acknowledged this as a specific category but does not necessarily include it with these more extensive consumer intelligence reports.

While this is still a relatively new software category and an evolution from traditional social listening vendors, they must undoubtedly be a part of your martech stack and larger B2B marketing strategy.


Q: Is consumer intelligence the same as social listening?

A: Social listening is just one data source that can be used for consumer intelligence. Social listening is monitoring social media for mentions of your brand, competitor brands, industry terms, and general sentiment. This data can then be analyzed to provide insights into what people say about your brand or industry.

Q: What kind of market research data can consumer intelligence use?

A: Any market research data can be used for consumer intelligence. This includes surveys, focus groups, interviews, and demographic data.

Q: How do I get started with consumer intelligence data?

A: The best way to start is to look at your marketing goals and objectives. You can determine what kind of data you need to collect and analyze to achieve those goals. You can also look at your customer data and see what insights you can glean from that. Additionally, several software platforms offer consumer intelligence solutions.

Q: Can consumer intelligence provide insights into improving the customer experience?

A: Yes, consumer intelligence can provide valuable insights into improving the customer experience. This data can help you understand what customers want and need and identify pain points in the customer journey. Additionally, this data can create more targeted marketing campaigns better aligned with customer needs and desires.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.