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Market research industry - Statistics & Facts

The global revenue of the market research industry exceeded 47.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, rising year-on-year since it experienced a slight dip in 2009 during the Great Recession. In 2018, North America generated the largest share of market research revenue at 45 percent, or 21.3 billion U.S. dollars, closely followed by Europe with 35 percent. However, these regions were not the leaders in terms of growth that year, which fell to the Asia Pacific region with 3.7 percent.

Global leaders of the market research industry include Nielsen Holdings (U.S.), Kantar (UK), IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS and IMS Health Holdings) (U.S.), Ipsos (France) and GfK Group (Germany). Nielsen, headquartered in New York City, was by far the largest market research company worldwide in terms of revenue in 20187. That year, the company’s revenue amounted to 6.52 billion U.S. dollars – almost twice that of its closest competitor, Kantar, with revenue of 3.9 billion.

The most common type of quantitative research conducted globally were online surveys, which in a 2018 survey were found to comprise almost 80 percent of the quantitative research. In the same survey, phone and face-to-face interviews each accounted for 30 percent and 23 percent respectively. However, geography makes a considerable difference on the type of research conducted. In 2018, over 60 percent of all market research spending in Pakistan, Kenya, Bolivia and Indonesia was for face-to-face research – considerably higher than the global average. Regarding qualitative research, in-person focus groups were the most common method, making up more than half of research conducted in 2018.

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