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Broader ‘business intelligence’ market surges 50% to US$ 60 billion

05 September 2014

The highest valuation ever, and on par with the electronic gaming industry

Amsterdam (3 September) – Little did we expect that revenues for the broader business intelligence market would equal that of PlayStation and Nintendo, but what an incredible amount (!). Within the more ‘traditional’ definition of the market research industry, the global size reached US$ 40.3 billion in 2013, representing year-on-year growth of 2.8% and 0.7% after inflation is factored in, the ESOMAR Global Market Research Report 2014 reveals.

‘‘Each issue of this report, which presents the only global analysis of market research spend, has traditionally marked a number of important developments in our profession and this year is no different! Firstly, the more traditionally defined ‘‘market research’’ sector now surpasses the US$ 40 billion mark. Secondly, the North American research market takes the title of fastest growing region for the first time since 2000 – underpinned by a resurgence in Qualitative in the USA’’, comments Finn Raben, ESOMAR Director General.


Turnover in

Market share (%)

Year-on-year growth 2012/13

Net growth

US$ millions











North America





Asia Pacific





Latin America










Middle East





ESOMAR estimates. Rounded figures presented. Exchange rate fluctuations eliminated. IMF inflation rates used to determine net growth. 

Highlights from the report include: 

  • Asia Pacific is the second of two regions that recorded positive net growth for 2013. China’s growth rate has declined by more than half in the past year, from 11.2% to 4.4%, but the size of the market research industry in China is now quickly catching up with Japan.
  • The downward trend in European turnover remains the region’s primary challenge; for the third consecutive year in a row, the value of the sector declined.
  • It is largely the EU15 that struggles to overcome the economic pains; France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg were the only markets to record net gains in 2014.
  • The growth of online research has taken an unanticipated turn; global revenues declined 1%, to 28% in 2013, which can be partly explained by increased price competition. This is substantiated by ESOMAR’s 2014 Global Prices Study, which details that global median prices for the online modalities (i.e. Online U&A Study, Tracker Study & Advertising Test) have all registered overall declines over the last four years, ranging from 2% to 12%.
  • The world’s best performing markets in 2013 were Myanmar (+50.0%), Lebanon (+38.4%) and Bangladesh (+28.4%), all posting growth from a small base; the world worst performing markets were Iraq (-45.5%), Cyprus (36.9%) and Portugal (-22.4%).
  • Confidence in the health of the market research industry appears to have strengthened; 82% of the countries that provided forecasts expect their local market to grow in 2014, compared to 60% in 2013.
  • For the full-year 2014, ESOMAR believes that global industry growth of between 3% and 4% (before inflation) is possible, which is stemming from the optimism that prevails in most of the regions, and the latest signs of economic recovery in some of the world’s largest research markets. 

‘‘A continuing challenge however, is that we still need to do more to raise the value of our profession – to legislators, to users, and most importantly, to our participants and consumers. The importance of research and insight to society, to government and to business simply cannot be stressed enough’’, Finn Raben adds.

Note: the broader ‘business intelligence’ market is measured in cooperation with Outsell, Inc., a US based market intelligence provider. 

About the report
In its 26th edition, ESOMAR’s annual Industry Study includes: 

  • Turnover and growth data at global, regional and national levels
  • Detailed country-level breakdowns of research spend by research method, design, client type and project type
  • A review of the Top 25 companies
  • Expert interviews on various topics, such as Latin America, Africa and the next big opportunities

For more information on the ESOMAR Global Market Research 2014 Report, please contact:

Eelco Snip
Senior Market Intelligence Specialist
T: +31 20 589 7820

Adam Warner
Marketing & Digital Communications Manager
T: +31 20 589 7854