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Tuesday, 01 December 2015

Research industry remains 'soft' according to MRA index

US— The Research Industry Index (RII) produced by the Marketing Research Association reports a continuing softness in MR business activity in the second quarter, carrying over from the first quarter.

RII is a composite score based on reported changes in key metrics (RFPs, projects and staffing levels) and changes in business owners’ perception of the “health” of their business.

The Q2 index score was 93 points, down one point from Q1.

Ken Roberts (pictured), the MRA’s immediate past chairman and author of the report, said: “Smaller and medium size firms (under $5 million in revenue) are primarily driving the lower score. However, a sizable portion of the larger firms also experienced a decrease in RFPs/proposals and revenue.”

The index was put together via online interviews with 237 senior research executives.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Are there any insights into why? Is it a shrinking customer base? Are customers turning to alternative data sources like social? Are the usual users of MR valuing it less? Is MR failing to innovate at a level that keeps up with demand and ever changing needs?

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  • Hi Keith,

    The survey is really designed as a barometer, intentionally with few questions to enhance participation, and therefore it does not delve deeply into the "why". But reading between the lines, I do have a few answers. The demand is still there, but budgets are tight. Corporate researchers are trying to do as much, if not more than before, but with fewer funds. They appear to be shopping their projects to more vendors, which is creating a downward price pressure. It also appears research keeps getting delayed – pushed into the next quarter, with some of it eventually going away. While corporate researchers are exploring social media, it does not appear to be replacing traditional research. The only strong demand that is voiced is for speed.


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  • another big trend is RFPs without funding. I've seen many instances of corporate MR's shopping RFPs to hedge pricing, only to go back to the well and ultimately not get the funds.

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