The ESOMAR Global Market Research report 2016

The (traditionally defined) market research community enjoyed another year of growth in net (2.2 per cent) and absolute (3.5 per cent) terms, in 2015 according to the Global Market Research report (ESOMAR, 2016). This year’s report takes into account revenues generated by the data analytics sector, adding an estimated US$ 4.6 bn to the global turnover, bringing it to a total of US$ 44.3 bn in 2015.

Having said this, due to the renewed strength of the US dollar in 2015, exchanging numerous markets’ turnovers into the dollar at first glance appears to contradict much of the reported growth rates around the globe. For instance, the reported 2014 global turnover sits at US$ 46.2 bn and yet when examining the 2015 turnovers in their local currencies, the reported growth of 3.5 per cent becomes all the more apparent due to fluctuating exchange rates.

Additionally, data from ESOMAR collaboration with Outsell Inc. illustrates that the insights industry as a whole, could be considered to be a large as almost US$68 bn, if expanded to include emerging sectors.

Global turnover (US$m) compared with absolute and net growths (%) for 2015

Global market research turnover chart


  • The 2016 report includes new data from Iceland, Somalia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia due to increased availability of market research revenue trends from this countries.
  • North America remains the largest region in 2015, and becomes the fastest growing region too! Similarly, the USA maintains its top position as the largest single market in the world, showing growth of 3 per cent, following inflation.
  • Europe, as well as its three major markets: the UK, Germany and France, demonstrated modest but important growth in 2015. Bulgaria became the region’s fastest growing single market with an enormous 46.4 per cent following inflation.
  • China maintained its position as the largest market in the Asia Pacific region and the fifth largest market globally, with growth of 2.5 per cent following inflation. Myanmar also became the fastest growing market in the region in 2015.
  • Previously the fastest growing market in 2014, the Middle East’s growth slowed to 1.7 per cent in 2015. Meanwhile, Africa slid into decline of 0.5 per cent in 2015, despite growth of 16.4 per cent following inflation in Kenya.
  • Unfortunately, the reported declines in Latin America for 2014 continued into 2015, with 10.7 per cent year on year growth that translates as -7.8 per cent following inflation. Brazil and Mexico maintain their positions as the major players in the region.
  • In terms of spend on research, online quantitative methods and automated digital /electronic continue to play an important role. Group discussions / focus groups generated the biggest qualitative method spends. Meanwhile, clients from the food, beverages and confectionary sectors spent the most commissioning research.
  • 68 per cent of countries expect further growth in 2016, compared to just 12 per cent who predict declines.

About the report

  • In its 28th edition, ESOMAR’s annual Global Market Research report 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 and industry highlights of the previous 18 months.
  • Expert interviews on various topics, such as the role of big data, conducting research in conflict zones and market research’s attractiveness to younger employees.

You can purchase the report here.

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