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Honomichl Points to 'Weak Downward Trend'

June 14 2013

Analysis conducted by industry authority Jack Honomichl points to a 'weak downward trend' in the research sector in 2012. A total of $9.5 billion was spent in the US on the sector, which is defined as including marketing, advertising and public opinion research services.

Jack HonomichlIn his 40th annual report, Honomichl (pictured) suggests that even though the database of 207 firms reported a 1.7% increase in US revenues to $9.5 billion in 2012, after adjustment for inflation of 2.1%, the 'real growth' was actually -0.4%.

Honomichl attributes the decline to underlying factors such as an 18.3% decrease in the portion of government spending now contracted to the private sector. Other factors are thought to include the slowing of growth in focus group usage - growing by 1.9% in 2012, compared with 4% in 2011 and 5.4% in 2010 - as online research takes an increasing share.

Linked to this, the number of full-time employees in the companies concerned fell by 3.7% during the year, to 33,506. Revenue per full-time employee (for the Top 50 firms only) improved very healthily to $259k in 2012, up from £241k in 2011.

Total industry revenues would have been down much more, says Honomichl, but for the 'floor' established by those Top 50 firms that specialize in syndicated services under long-term contracts - including Nielsen, IRI, Arbitron, JD Power & Associates, NPD Group, comScore, Rentrak and National Research Group. These eight firms saw 2012 revenues grow by 4.1%, while the balance of 41 firms saw revenues decrease by 0.7%.

There were seven newcomers on this year's list: Symphony Health Solutions, Public Opinion Strategies, Perception Research Services, RDA Group, Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, LRA Worldwide, and Kelton. However, the list was otherwise pretty static, with all of the Top 10 agencies (see graph below) holding the same ranking in 2012 as they had in 2011. Most notably, multi-screen measurement firm Rentrak rose from position 38 in 2011 to 29 in 2012.

US Rank Organization US research revenue **
($ millions)
% change
from 2011 ***
Non US research revenue **
($ millions)
No. of
full time
2012 2011
1 1 Nielsen Holdings N.V. 2,651.0 4.0% 2,778.0 10,486
2 2 Kantar * 929.4 -4.8% 2,409.2 3,930
3 3 Ipsos 590.0 -5.5% 1,710.0 1,996
4 4 Westat Inc. 491.1 -3.1% 4.8 2,019
5 5 Information Resources Inc. 478.7 2.9% 285.1 1,325
6 6 Arbitron Inc. 444.1 6.7% 5.8 982
7 7 GfK USA 330.9 0.5% 1,616.0 1,131
8 8 IMS Health Inc. 271.3 -4.0% 503.7 540
9 9 The NPD Group Inc. 191.8 1.5% 80.2 875
10 10 ICF International Inc. 191.2 7.5% 48.5 1,152

* Estimated by Top 50 authors.

** U.S. and WW revenues may include nonresearch activities for some companies that are significantly higher, as well as revenues from other MR companies. See individual company profiles for details.

*** Rate of growth from year to year has been adjusted so as not to include revenue gains or losses from acquisitions or divestitures. See company profiles for explanation.

The Honomichl Top 50 is compiled by Jack Honomichl and his associate Larry Gold, and published by the American Marketing Association magazine, Marketing News.

All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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