ESOMAR report confirms that surveys are in decline

Last week I posted an article looking at the decline in survey research, which included some data from ESOMAR and some predictions.

This week, ESOMAR posted the latest Global Market Research Report and it includes some interesting figures on data collection modes. Figures which are broadly in line with my predictions.

The table below is mostly a repeat of the one I included in my previous post. It shows the data from the ESOMAR reports for 2007, 2010, and 2013, along with my forecasts for 2016 and 2019.

In this version, I have added the data from the 2014 ESOMAR Global Market Research report at the bottom.

Surveys 2014

Note, the ESOMAR data refer to the final figures for the previous year, so the 2014 report is based on the completed returns for the whole of 2013.

The decline in research spending on projects where the data was collected via surveys, from 53% in the 2013 report to 48% in 2014, is a very large drop and is even faster than implied by my predictions. The ESOMAR Pricing Study would suggest that some of the drop is due to falling costs for online research and a continued switch to online from face-to-face and CATI. However, the ESOMAR Global Market Research report also highlights the growth of non-survey alternatives.

The change in other quant is broadly in line with my predictions, and the 1% change in qual could be more wobble than message. The climb in Other is, however, large, and larger than my prediction, and is one of the drivers of the fall in survey research as a proportion of the total. The key elements in Other are desk research and secondary analysis and are an indication of the move away from data collection to analysis.

BTW, if you are interested in this topic you might want to read Jeffrey Henning’s riposte, Surveys A Century From Now.


3 thoughts on “ESOMAR report confirms that surveys are in decline

  1. Hi Jeffrey,
    My name is Eelco Snip, analyst at ESOMAR. In response to your query: this is partially included. If these type of companies are a member of the national market research association (i.e. the study contributors), it is covered in the report. Where they are not a member of the association, or not involved in any form of primary market research, it is not included, and here, we refer to the additional measure of Outsell that has estimated the survey software market at US$ 435 million in 2013. This shift in spending that you refer to has also been an important topic in our conversations with the report’s sounding board, and we will continue to monitor this very closely.

  2. So, if an online survey software company is listed in the NMRA’s Blue Book, they were covered in the report? I’m not quite understanding how that would work. How was the ESOMAR study conducted? Did they look at spend in general for market research, spend only with research groups like Ipsos and GfK? Or did they look at revenue for market research groups, or revenue for DIY survey organizations based on number of users generating that revenue?

    Secondary research and analysis can only account for so much towards a company’s decision-making. At some point, it would seem an organization still needs to just go ask their audience for an opinion. We’ve come too far to dismiss the value of first-hand opinions. I’m curious what your thoughts are about what’s really replacing surveys, or what the vnext of primary market research might be?

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