Along with the economy, the UK market research industry currently remains in the doldrums. In compiling its annual league table, the Market Research Society estimates the industry size at approximately £3 billion - based on agencies' 2011 turnover.
That's a growth of 6.74% on 2010's figures, but strip out inflation of 4.48% and we are left with net real growth of just 2.26%.
Demand for market research services in the UK increased even during the recent economic downturn. The underlying reason could be the double-sided impact of the crisis, as companies were faced with a need for budget cuts with a simultaneous increase in demand for reliable information due to vague and uncertain markets worldwide.
The industry, with nearly 3,100 local players, remained fragmented over the past six years and therefore highly competitive. Although in terms of value the industry saw growth, it contracted slightly in terms of numbers - there were 6% fewer companies in the industry in 2012 compared with 2006.
Many players and tough competition in the reviewed industry resulted in an increasing problem regarding how to match quality of work and requirements for speed. Buyers can hardly distinguish good and average quality research, and therefore speed of services is a strategic advantage.
The UK has shown itself to be an early adopter, rather than an innovator, in terms of data collection techniques, with online surveys and focus groups, mobile phone texting research and other techniques typically pioneered in Japan and the United States.
This is reflected, for example, by the fact that online research represents 19% of all research conducted in the United States, against 13% in the UK (this does make the UK the leading major European country to conduct online research, however).
For more information on the UK market research industry, see the latest research: UK Market Research Industry
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