NEWS16 June 2011

UK research revenues flat, while US sees growth

Financials North America UK

UK/US— The decline in revenue in the UK’s research industry flattened out in 2010, while the US returned to growth, the latest figures show.

The rate of UK revenue decline was just 0.2% in the 12 months to December 2010, compared to 4.7% the previous year, according to figures released today by the Market Research Society (MRS). Estimated total revenue was £2.06bn, which was lower than 2009’s figure of £2.076bn, but higher than 2007’s total.

While revenues slid 2.2% in the domestic market, this was made up for by a 4.3% increase in revenue from international projects, which had suffered an 8.3% drop in 2009.

MRS director general David Barr (pictured) said: “The reasonably encouraging figures for market research globally are offset by the figures for the mature UK market. However, it must be remembered that this happened against a backdrop of relatively flat UK GDP throughout 2010.

“Looking to the immediate future we remain cautious as the effects of cuts in UK public sector research will become even more evident over the next few months. Although 2010 has given some cause for optimism, 2011 will remain challenging.”

Staff numbers at UK agencies were up 4.7%, following a 5.9% decline in 2009.

There were more promising signs on the other side of the Atlantic, where revenue was up 4.7% according to Jack Honomichl’s latest industry report for Inside Research. This compares to a 3.5% decline in the previous year.

US revenue for the top 50 totalled $8.5bn, and supplementary revenue figures for Casro members not included in the Honomichl list brought the figure for 199 companies to $9.2bn.

Nielsen remained top of the Honomichl list with US revenue of $2.4bn, followed by Kantar with $914.7m and IMS Health with $801m. The top 10, which also included SymphonyIRI, Westat, Arbitron, Ipsos, GfK, Synovate and NPD, accounted for more than 70% of the $9.2bn figure for 199 agencies.

Nielsen’s global revenue for the year was nearly £5bn with Kantar on $3.2bn. The global figures show that a combined Ipsos and Synovate (which have recently been in talks over a possible merger) would form a $2.4bn business – the world’s third largest.