The Association for Qualitative Research
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A few facts about qual

Everyone knows the market is quite buoyant, thank you very much, and anecdotally, most of us are aware of shifts in the market. But what are the facts?

The latest survey of BMRA member agencies highlights some new opportunities ­ and reminds us to keep a sense of perspective on old faithfuls.

Overall the market is growing ­ an estimated 12% increase in turnover in 1999, far faster than inflation and rates of growth of the economy as a whole.

Qual is growing slightly faster than quant, but still represents just over 10% of total value. Remember, though, that this is BMRA agencies only, so it probably under-represents total qual.

Business to business is growing faster than consumer research but only because of 20% growth in business to business quant ­ especially retail and financial sectors. Good old consumer research still accounts for 85% of turnover.

Everyone knows international research enjoys a higher profile nowadays ­ and UK agencies have made a great success of international work. ESOMAR estimates that of all the international sub-contracted research in Europe, 50% is carried out by UK agencies. But things like the strong pound have had an effect ­ and international research by BMRA agencies actually grew more slowly than domestic work.

As for Internet research, the current buzz word, it will undoubtedly be important in future, but bear in mind that it wasn't big enough to even register in the figures until 1998. If nothing else, it means that agencies (and clients) have little or no experience of doing and using it.

So, yes, we are in period of sustained real growth, and yes there are new opportunities. But still the great bulk of our market involves sitting in a room somewhere in Britain, with UK consumers.

 

Mike Imms
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2000