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New reports on the state of the market research industry are largely optimistic

Several new reports have recently been published that examine the state of the market research and insights industry on a global scale. We will take a look at themes from three of them in this short roundup: ESOMAR’s annual Global Market Research (GMR) Report which encompasses a wide range of survey data collected from 83% of the global insights industry; the Global Research Business Network (GRBN)’s Global Trust Survey, which is based on surveys of 8,000 adults living in eight representative countries around the world; and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Bellwether report, a quarterly survey outlining companies’ marketing spend intentions and financial confidence in the U.K.

  • The market research industry is growing fast: Perhaps the most significant finding from ESOMAR’s 2022 GMR Report is that the output of the industry is set to exceed USD $130 billion in 2023. Over the past year, this expansion has already been set in motion, as the industry grew from $102 billion to $115 billion year-over-year. The good news is that this growth trajectory is expected to continue, with many gains made in the technology sector which expanded by +24.5% in the United States alone over the past year.
  • Trust in market research is holding steady: GRBN’s Global Trust survey, which compares data from completed online surveys in either April to May 2020 or July to August 2022, showed that trust in market research is stable with 33% of respondents personally trusting market research companies. Slightly up overall from 2020, trust does vary greatly by country. The report highlights the opportunities that still exist for market research companies to enhance experiences, build greater trust with audiences and put further practices in place to protect and appropriately use people’s personal data.
  • Market research budgets are iffy: Because it is conducted quarterly, the IPA Bellwether report is more sensitive to short-term shifts in the data. The latest report, covering Q3 2022, indicated that total marketing budgets increased by a net balance of +2.1% - the slowest pace since Q1 2021. Research budgets in particular were on the decline for the third consecutive quarter, around 6%, but those surveyed were anticipating a slight increase in the months to come. Focused on the U.K. only, the data may not be representative of the global outlook. The GMR report also touches on a decrease in client budgets, indicating that some of the reported cuts may be attributed to turning to self-serve (DIY) research and internalizing the insights function, as well diverting funds from primary research to secondary analysis and reports.
  • Sample providers have a new role to play: The GMR report states: “Sample panel providers, a segment that in previous years has shown very moderate growth, has reinvented itself and now constitutes an essential cogwheel in the remote research apparatus.” In fact, companies in this segment experienced 12% growth by evolving their business models, something we can attest to first-hand. When we started in 2020, Rep Data took a new approach to sample and data collection, and in turn we have experienced a significantly higher-than-average growth, over ten times the reported segment growth overall, during the past year alone. 

Despite some ups and downs, the market research industry as a whole has remained strong and growing throughout the upheaval of the past couple of years. The adaptability, agility and foresight of the sector as a whole, and the continued intense need for insights and data to make business decisions in an evolving global marketplace, promises to continue bolstering the space in the years ahead. 

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