Steady as she grows

By Jo Bowman

Global Market Research report 2015: An Industry in flux makes small but solid gains 

A picture of stability in the global market research industry emerges from ESOMAR’s annual report, which shows that while the revenues being generated a year ago have broadly been maintained – with some countries even reporting small gains in local currency terms – levels of growth after inflation is factored in were quite modest., This year’s Global Market Research Report, to be launched at the ESOMAR Congress in Dublin in September, shows that world research turnover rose 0.1% in 2014, to US$43.3 billion.

In terms of the absolute market value, this years value estimate has increased since last years report, but this growth can be attributed to a revision of the market estimate from the US (for both 2013 and 2014), which now includes two additional estimates – one for research conducted directly by end clients with speciality services (eg SurveyMonkey, Qualtrix, etc) and the second covering market research analytics (US proportion of work conducted by eg Acxion, Cegedim, etc).

The overall growth figure is down from the rate of 0.7% seen in the previous two years. While 2013 saw a post-recession return of confidence in North America that helped grow global turnover, and in previous years it has been the fast-growing markets in Asia-Pacific and Latin America that have supported global growth, this year these ‘driver’ markets are all largely flat, and it is the Middle East that is leading on growth. Hopes a year ago that 2014 would see a big swing back to global growth have not materialised, but there remains optimism – perhaps slightly tempered – as many European companies report an increase in market research spend from their clients.


Top line findings

Europe’s contribution to global research turnover fell in the past year, with uncertainty over a future for Greece in the Eurozone helping bring about a 3% decline. The region now accounts for 37% of the world total, down from 40% a year ago, and it is North America which benefits from the share transfer, growing its share from 39 to 43% of the global total, thanks to the inclusion of the two new sectoral estimates. In Asia-Pacific, which together accounts for 14% of the global industry, fast growth in small, emerging Southeast Asian economies was not enough to counter slow-downs in some of the bigger markets to the north. Notable this year is the fact that China has for the first time entered the Top Five largest research markets in the world, knocking Japan out of fifth place.

Highlights of this years’ GMR include:

Market research turnover increases in 54 countries or sub-regions in 2014, and declines in 33, after adjustment for inflation and currency fluctuations.

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