NEWS30 July 2021

Research industry revenues begin Covid-19 recovery

Brexit Covid-19 News Sustainability UK

UK – The number of agencies seeing a drop in revenue due to Covid-19 has fallen in 2021, and a majority are committed to sustainability initiatives, research from the Market Research Society (MRS) and Watermelon has found.

Crowd of people wearing anti-viral masks

The research on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry found that 67% of market research agencies that responded had seen a decline in revenues, which was a drop from 87% in the first wave of the research and 76% in the second wave.

The third wave of the research was carried out online by Watermelon in April and May 2021, following on two previous phases of the research carried out in April/May and August 2020 to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the market research industry. There were 78 respondents in the latest round of research.

Smaller agencies were the hardest hit, as was face-to-face qualitative research, which was still stopped by 63% of respondents in April and May 2021, as Covid-19 restrictions across the UK began to ease.

The research found that 29% of respondents had also reduced their use of face-to-face qualitative work.

Face-to-face quantitative research ( 44% stopped and 39% reduced) and paper/postal quantitative research ( 23% stopped and 27% reduced) were the other disciplines hardest hit by the pandemic, the research found.

Online qualitative work had increased among 68% of respondents, and online quantitative work had risen among 49% of agencies in the research, although telephone and strategic consultancy had a more mixed picture.

The research found that 59% of respondents had furloughed staff at some point in the last year, and the majority of companies had three-quarters of their staff working from home.

There was some positivity about the future, with 51% of respondents saying they were optimistic and 19% saying they were very optimistic for the year ahead.

On sustainability, which was also covered in the research, 13% of respondents were fully committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions, and 46% were making some sustainability commitments.

The research found that 84% of respondents focusing on sustainability believed reducing emissions was the right thing to do, 67% that it was important to them personally and 64% that it was important for staff.

However, barriers included having bigger priorities ( 35%), not knowing where to start ( 22%) and feeling the agency was too small to make a difference ( 21%).

The impact of Brexit was also examined in the third wave of the Covid-19 research, with 59% of respondents reporting that leaving the EU had had no discernible effect on the firm.

Legal barriers were the biggest issue cited by respondents, and the European Economic Area was the largest trade partner for the majority of market research firms in the UK.