Given the difficulty of defining what we include in 'market research', it's very hard to get a figure for how large the industry is worldwide. Global association ESOMAR says in its recent report that industry turnover grew by 3.5% in 2015, or 2.2% after allowing for inflation – to an absolute market value of $US 44.3bn. This was an improvement on real-terms growth of just 0.1% in 2014.
In looking at trends it's important to keep a constant scope, ie in this case not to include a raft of new activities which were around but not measured last year, and in consequence say that the sector has grown more than it has. ESOMAR splits out revenue from newly included sub-sectors, suggesting that 2015 saw 'additional analytics revenue' of $US 4.6bn. Tables give separate 'new analytics' revenue for the US and UK, noting that in the latter, the analytics sector is making a big contribution to the economy - an increase of $US 2.3bn between 2013 and 2015. This at least partly explains why the UK has pulled away from its continental neighbours in the last few years (see below), as ten years ago the gap was narrowing (and indeed very narrow, such that at one point we expected to lose second place before 2010).
North America has also overtaken and pulled away from Europe as a whole in recent years, and gained overall market share as the table below shows. Note that the strong dollar pushed figures for other regions down in 2015, but also that Asia Pacific and Latin America, often cited as the fastest growing regions for MR (along with Eastern Europe where separated out) have not shown much of a rise even between 2011 and 2014.
Source: ESOMAR Global MR Report 2016
|Europe||N. America||Asia Pac||LatAm||Africa||Middle East|
North America was the fastest growing region in 2015 – turnover grew 3% in the USA and 7.6% in Canada, although the US accounts for well over 90% of the continent's total revenue.
Generally the global outlook for 2016 was positive, with a majority of firms in 68% of countries saying they expected the industry to grow in 2016, while 20% expected no change and 12% expected decline. Companies in a similar proportion of countries (>60%) said they had experienced some net growth in 2015.
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