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Strong Year-on-Year Growth for US Research Industry

June 15 2017

The US research industry maintained a strong annual growth rate in 2016, despite 'tepid' overall economic growth, according to this year's AMA Gold Top 50 Report. Total revenue generated for the 202 companies surveyed was $11.584bn, up 5.7%.

Strong Year-on-Year Growth for US Research IndustryThe report, which is now in its 44th year, was originally created by veteran research industry journalists Jack Honomichl and Larry Gold. Following Honomichl's death in 2013, the report was renamed after his business partner Gold, who unexpectedly passed away in 2015. AMA Gold is now authored by Diane Bowers, a consultant at the Insights Association (formed through the merger of CASRO and MRA); and Michael Brereton, who is currently with the marketing faculty at Michigan State University's Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.

Top 50 Growth

This year's overall revenue figure is based on revenue for the top 50 companies, along with 152 other member companies of the Insights Association. After adjustment for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.3%, the real-growth rate for 2016 is 4.4%, similar to 2015 when growth was 4.8%, or 4.7% after allowing for inflation. The report's authors point out that this compares favourably with an overall US economy described as 'tepid' by some economists.

The Employment Picture

In 2016, the number of full-time US research industry employees increased by 6.8% among the Top 50 companies, or by 8.4% if the additional 152 companies are included. The 202 firms employ more than 40,000 employees.

For the Top 50 firms, which are weighted toward large database companies, audience measurement and other syndicated services, revenue per full-time employee in 2016 was $287k. Among the other 152, generally custom research companies, the mean was $272k.

Changes at the Top

There are seven new Top 50 companies on the list. Second place is taken by QuintilesIMS, the result of a merger; in 22nd place is Informa Financial Intelligence, a new company established by Informa; at number 25 is Market Force, which specializes in providing location-level customer experience management services; Tokyo-based online panel company Macromill takes 29th place; at number 35 is consumer insights specialistSimmons Research; in 38th place is Maru/Matchbox, formed through MARU Group's acquisition of Vision Critical's North American Research Consulting division; and innovation/ideation labs specialist Hypothesis takes the 49th slot.

Five companies failed to make it on to this year's Top 50 lists - comScore, which could not participate because of accounting issues; J.D. Power, which was acquired by XIO Group, a firm that does not disclose financial information; Rentrak, which merged with comScore in February 2016; and Market Probe and Public Opinion Strategies, which chose not to participate in this year's report.

Nineteen companies reported double-digit increases in revenue, sixteen companies had single-digit increases that exceeded inflation, and thirteen companies' revenues were flat or decreased. There are two newly formed companies (Informa Financial Intelligence and Maru/Matchbox) that did not have reportable revenue in 2015 and, consequently, no year-over-year growth rate to report. Of the companies that experienced a double-digit increase, there achieved 50% or more year-over-year growth in 2016: LRA by Deloitte, Fors Marsh Group, and Hypothesis. Companies moving up three or more positions are: Fors Marsh Group, Wood MacKenzie, LRW, LRA by Deloitte, Burke, C Space, Convergys Analytics and The Link Group.

In the Top 10 list, The NPD Group moved up from the No. 9 spot last year, to No. 8 in 2016; ICF moved up from No. 11 to No.9; and Abt SRBI (now Abt Associates) moved up three places from No. 13 in 2015, to join the top 10 companies on the report.

US Rank Organization US Market Non US Market US
2017 2016
1 1 Nielsen $3,626.0 $2,683.0 9,646
2 - QuintilesIMS *** $1,358.0 $1,943.0 5,261
3 3 Kantar** $994.0 $2,853.0 3,300
4 4 IRI $631.4 $395.3 1,665
5 5 Ipsos $568.0 $1,394.0 2,192
6 6 Westat $500.7 $10.8 1,922
7 7 GfK $310.2 $1,367.0 915
8 9 The NPD Group $259.0 $82.0 1,035
9 11 ICF International $163.7 $59.6 1,016
10 13 Abt SRBI $142.2 $5.0 1,198
11 16 Wood Mackenzie **** $132.8 $310.0 300
12 14 MaritzCX $128.5 $40.7 579
13 12 DRG (Decision Resources Group) ** $128.0 $50.0 560
14 15 dunnhumby ** $109.0 $320.0 235
15 20 LRW (Lieberman Research Worldwide) $103.3 $41.1 547
16 18 NRC Health $91.1 $4.9 357
17 19 ORC International $76.2 $42.3 307
18 22 Burke $71.1 $8.9 269
19 23 C Space** $66.6 $16.8 321
20 21 Market Strategies International $64.3 $1.1 254
21 24 Convergys Analytics ** $60.2 $7.2 250
22 - Informa Financial Intelligence $54.0 $28.8 400
23 25 Morpace $52.7 $7.4 187
24 26 PRS IN VIVo $51.0 $46.0 150
25 - Market Force ** $48.0 $7.0 300

* Percent change calculation reflects adjustment of previously reported 2015 U.S. research revenue due to acquisition/divestiture activity or other business change during 2016.

** Some or all figures are not made available by this company so instead are based upon estimations by the report authors.

*** 2016 market research revenue is for the combined company, assuming the merger of Quintiles and IMS Health was completed on Jan. 1, 2016. The merger closed on Oct. 3, 2016. Revenue growth rates are impacted by the merger and may not reflect true growth in the underlying operations.

**** Percent change calculation reflects organic YOY growth only; 2016 annual revenue reflects acquisition activity during 2016. Some or all figures are not made available by this company so instead are based upon estimations by the report authors.

*****This company did not participate in last year's Top 50 Report.

? 2016 currency exchange rate from British pounds to U.S. dollars decreased the percent growth rate. All values reported in millions of dollars.

Nielsen accounts for more than 30% of total US 2016 annual revenue and more than 20% of the total non-US 2016 research revenue generated by the Top 50.

The full report can be accessed through the AMA web site at: https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Documents/2017-top-50-gold-report-article.pdf .

All articles 2006-23 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas, 2024- by Nick Thomas, unless otherwise stated.

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