ESOMAR’s global top-25 insights companies

ESOMAR is once again delighted to present its global compilation and ranking of the largest companies providing market research, data, analytics and reporting services.
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Date 19 November
Author Xabier Palacio

This article is extracted from the Global Market Research 2021 report, a must-have in the professional’s toolbox where you can find detailed information on the insights industry for the world’s countries. Get the full report here (free to ESOMAR members)

Saved by technology?

ESOMAR is once again delighted to present its global compilation and ranking of the largest companies providing market research, data, analytics and reporting services. While last year we warned about the uncertain effects of the global pandemic and wondered how companies would react to and assimilate the forcefully changeful landscape, the global ranking shows the resilience of the industry and the importance of generating insight, mostly aided by firms specialised in technology-enabled methods, as well as those involved in consultancy.

While last year’s global industrial output barely managed to remain equal in net terms (0.3%, Global Market Research 2021, ESOMAR), the world’s largest companies seem to have counted with the means to remain afloat and, in some cases, thrive. As a result, the largest 50 insights companies assessed by ESOMAR experienced a combined growth of 2.5%, in a ranking that shows great fluctuation between companies.

An example of this is the result for companies with a turnover above US$ 1 billion. Of these 13 companies, 8 reported negative growth, shedding more than US$ 1 billion worth of commercial activity along the way, while the remaining 5 firms reported positive figures of growth rate (some in double digits), gaining in excess of US$ 1.4 billion.

Due to lockdowns and restrictions on face-to-face interactions, companies with specialisations which allowed their clients to operate independently of legacy face-to-face services (such as Enterprise Monitoring Systems or Self-serve platforms), gained ranking places in 2020.

The ranking in perspective

Curiously, the top-10 places of ESOMAR’s ranking are populated by the exact same contenders as last year, even though some have surpassed their neighbours and have managed to take more leading positions.

  • Such is the case of the established research agency IQVIA (previously known as IMS), which, having managed to maintain growth over 2020 (+5.2%), has moved to second position overtaking industry reports giant Gartner, which falls to third place.

  • Similarly, MarTech titan and CRM specialist Salesforce, with extraordinary growth of 24%, managed to increase its market share in the segment by two percentage points to 18%, and overtakes full-service agency Kantar in overall turnover levels to reach 6th place.

  • Lastly, established research firm GfK slides to 10th position after a negative growth of 6.5% during 2020 and lets specialist industry reports CoStar Group to take 9th place after a year of remarkable growth, (19%).

In the first place, though, sits once again and probably for the last time, Nielsen, a behemoth agency that split into two firms over the course of 2021. The remaining three firms in the top-10, the insights-related portion of Adobe Systems in fourth place, Ipsos in 7th and IHS Markit in 8th, all experienced negative growth in their turnovers (with only the latter dropping more than 10%), and yet none of them saw their position in the ranking altered. Should the current trend continue, however, it would not be surprising to see Salesforce overtake Adobe Systems next year and take fourth place.

The year ahead

What the world experienced in 2020 was the immediate impact. However, it is yet to face its longer-term repercussions – the economic version of “long COVID”?

The prospect for 2021 is of cautious optimism as the economies return to positive levels of growth and, eventually (and hopefully!), reach pre-pandemic levels of output. As identified in ESOMAR’s Global Market Research 2021 report, the expected absolute growth of the industry for 2021 will be 5.3%, a promising prospect we wished was shared by all of the world’s countries, and not just a selected few with particularly prolific, innovative and stable industries. However, a look at each of the world’s regions creates a more nuanced and sobering picture where Europe, the US, and Asia Pacific capture the bulk of the recovery with up to 87% of all expected capital generated.

Time will tell what the next report of ESOMAR’s Top-25 Insights Companies will look like, but it seems that the same elements that were in motion for 2020 remain in place in the current year: the unequal effect of the pandemic across the world, the reaction of all macroeconomic variables to the initial shock – the most obvious one being inflation –, the advantage of being an internationally active firm, and the strategic benefit of mergers and acquisitions will surely play a role in helping companies hold on to their global positions.

1

 (=) Nielsen
Established Market Research (and Social Listening and Communities, Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 6,290,000
2019/20 change: -3.2%

2

 (+1) IQVIA
Established Market Research (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 4,354,800
2019/20 change: +5.2%

3

 (-1) Gartner
Industry Reports and Research (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 4,099,403
2019/20 change: -3.4%

4

 (=) Adobe Systems
Digital Data Analytics (MarTech) (and EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management))
Turnover 2020: US$ 3,125,000
2019/20 change: -2.5%

5

 (+1) Salesforce
Digital Data Analytics (MarTech) (and EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management), Social Listening and Communities)
Turnover 2020: US$ 3,100,000
2019/20 change: +23.7%

6

 (-1) Kantar
Established Market Research (and Sample Panel Providers, Self-service platforms)
Turnover 2020: US$ 2,786,800
2019/20 change: -2.9%

7

 (=) Ipsos
Established Market Research
Turnover 2020: US$ 2,098,671
2019/20 change: -6.4%

8

 (=) HIS Markit
Industry Reports and Research
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,883,749
2019/20 change: -10.6%

9

 (+1) CoStar Group
Industry Reports and Research
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,659,019
2019/20 change: +18.5%

10

 (-1) GfK
Established Market Research
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,564,000
2019/20 change: -6.5%

11

 (=) IRi
Established Market Research (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,400,000
2019/20 change: +7.7%

12

 (+1) Deloitte
Consulting Firms (and EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management))
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,200,480
2019/20 change: +26.1%

13

 (-1) McKinsey & Co.
Consulting Firms (and Industry Reports and Research, Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 1,074,150
2019/20 change: -7.0%

14

 (=) Booz Allen Hamilton
Consulting Firms (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 943,073
2019/20 change: +5.3%

15

 (+5) HubSpot
Digital Data Analytics (MarTech) (and Self-service platforms)
Turnover 2020: US$ 883,026
2019/20 change: +30.8%

16

 (+1) NICE
Digital Data Analytics (MarTech) (and Established Market Research, EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management))
Turnover 2020: US$ 847,080
2019/20 change: +6.8%

17

 (-2) Ernst & Young
Consulting Firms
Turnover 2020: US$ 842,233
2019/20 change: +2.3%

18

 (-2) Accenture
Consulting Firms (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 823,718
2019/20 change: +0.2%

19

 (-1) Cision
Social Listening and Communities
Turnover 2020: US$ 772,128
2019/20 change: +0.8%

20

 (+5) Qualtrics
Self-service platforms (and EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management))
Turnover 2020: US$ 763,522
2019/20 change: +34.3%

21

 (-2) Dynata
Sample Panel Providers (and Self-service platforms)
Turnover 2020: US$ 696,535
2019/20 change: +3.2%

22

 (-1) PwC
Consulting Firms (and Digital Data Analytics (MarTech))
Turnover 2020: US$ 643,759
2019/20 change: +4.4%

23

 (=) Oracle
Digital Data Analytics (MarTech) (and EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management))
Turnover 2020: US$ 584,740
2019/20 change: +1.8%

24

 (-2) KPMG
Consulting Firms
Turnover 2020: US$ 584,400
2019/20 change: -2.2%

25

 (+7) Westat
Established Market Research
Turnover 2020: US$ 575,000
2019/20 change: -3.7%

Xabier Palacio
ESOMAR Staff, Senior Industry Analyst at ESOMAR