About the Industry

MR's Neighbours

Writing in the 2016 AMA Marketing News Gold Report (see below) Michael Brereton, Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University's Eli Broad School of Management, gave an interesting overview of how the MR industry is interacting with an increasing number of other information suppliers - describing it as 'analogous to the collision of galaxies in space'. He explained: 'When two galaxies collide, due to the vast amounts of interstellar space, they actually get enmeshed into each other. The final shape of the combined galaxy is different from the two original galaxies but takes on attributes of the dominant one'. The diagram indicates how Brereton sees the industries thus colliding with ours:

Image caption

Here's how he summed up the collision:

'The marketing research industry has seen disruptions before, perhaps the most significant being the move to online surveys (and by extension, mobile). This time, however, the disruption is not emerging only from within. The existence of more and varied data sources, and the sophistication of the technologies used to harness them, is inviting a broader range of disciplines to the development of solutions. This is why the number and breadth of these colliding galaxies is growing. It is not as much the marketing research industry moving toward these other disciplines but rather these other lines of business recognizing the existence and value of survey data and the proven statistical techniques being applied.

'This coming together to address the expanding needs of market intelligence has defined a much broader universe. And this universe has attracted lines of business not previously considered as partners or competitors in the traditional marketing-research space. In recent years the global research market has typically been defined a $35-45 billion opportunity. But this expanded viewpoint defines a market approaching $170 billion'.

Brereton was reporting on MSU's Research Transformed Collaborative initiative in partnership with the Insights Association and AMA.

The thought of major companies crowding into the business of information worries some researchers, whether it's Google automated survey products, or as in the diagram above, the likes of IBM and SAP from one side as 'service platforms' and McKinsey and Accenture on the other. ESOMAR's latest report puts some figures on this 'related consulting' activity clearly not the totals for the consultancy sector as a whole, but an estimate for that part of it which sits adjacent to the MR space. The report notes that consulting firms now generate $5.6bn in research revenue, a 6.4% rise in the past year, and that the biggest player in the field, Boston Consulting Group, saw growth of 17% in 2015, to $1.2bn. McKinsey, Accenture, Bain & Company and Deloitte round out the top 5 and all grew in the year, albeit by smaller percentages.

Muscling in on the opposite wing, ESOMAR reckons the online analytics market grew from $7.96bn to $8.34bn in 2015, led by Adobe which accounts for 1/6 of this revenue and grew by 11.3%. Salesforce, in 2nd place, grew 29.5%. Meanwhile according to information industry publisher Outsell, 'traditional MR' declined from $28.9bn to $27.6bn.


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All articles in the 'About the Industry' section written by Nick Thomas of MrWeb during July - October 2017, and © MrWeb Ltd 2017. Thanks to GRIT, ESOMAR, the AMA and the MRS for stats and tables used.

About the industry - contents...

1. What is MR and how is it changing?

A comprehensive guide to what we do, how it's changing, and who else does similar stuff.

2. The global industry today

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3. Careers in MR

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