A new comprehensive sector review by PwC shows the market has grown by almost £2 billion since 2012 and now employs nearly 73,000.
The UK professional research and evidence market is worth an annual £4.8bn and employs close to 73,000 professional staff, according to a new independent review by advisors PwC.
The report, Business of Evidence 2016, says the UK is now the world’s second-largest market for professional research, having grown by almost £2 billion and generated nearly 14,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs since the last sector review in 2012.
The value of UK-generated research has grown by 62% since 2012, compared to just 8.7% growth in the UK economy as a whole over the same period, with export revenues of over £1.7bn. Data analytics and technology-driven research and insight have been the main drivers of market growth, the PwC report says.
The study, carried out by Research to Insight (r2i), PwC’s global centre of excellence for market research, reveals that the UK research sector contributes just over 0.3% of total UK GDP. It has annual revenues larger than the UK music industry and the public relations and communications sector.
Commissioned by the Market Research Society (MRS), the review builds on Business of Evidence, the first comprehensive review of the sector published in 2012, to demonstrate the current size and value of the UK’s professional research and evaluation market.
Business of Evidence 2016 highlights the rapid expansion of data analytics but also points to a simultaneous growth in qualitative research being used to interrogate so-called ‘big data’ and convert it into ‘smart data’ that can inform and stimulate strategic decision-making.
The report says the sector is showing no signs of slowing and offers significant scope for further growth, as market and social research continuous to evolve to keep pace with and embrace technological change.
Other findings from the report include:
- UK research is a significant exporter of innovations and services with 36% of UK-based research agencies’ annual turnover worth £1.7bn annually - generated globally.
Growth has been driven by data analytics – which has seen a 350% growth since 2012 – but there is also evidence of a simultaneous increase in qualitative research being used to help interrogate findings.
There are currently nearly 38,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the research supply-side;
Over 34,000 additional FTE jobs are in other sectors, such as in-house researchers in specialist data analytics companies, or in central government;
Around 66% of employees are in London and the South East, making the sector worth £3.2 billion per annum to the greater London economy.
Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, commented:
“The incredible growth we have seen since 2012 is testament to the value that organisations place on the importance of evidence-based decisions. It reflects the increasing confidence and importance of research and its practitioners to decisions being made at every level across both the public and private sectors.
“The research market has significantly outpaced the growth of the overall UK economy and now generates significant export revenues to global clients and customers. It now employs nearly 73,000 highly skilled professionals, generating considerable intellectual capital and providing a source of competitive advantage. This second comprehensive review builds on the findings of 2012, and once again makes a clear case for the market and social research sector to be recognised and supported as a vital intellectual and commercial asset to the UK economy.
”We commissioned this report because the contribution of market and social research to the UK plc is not currently officially recognised. Not only does it contribute GVA in its own right, but supports the growth of businesses across all sectors by enabling effective decision-making.”
Honor Mallon, Partner in charge of PwC’s Research to Insight (r2i) team, commented:
“I am delighted to see the re-emergence and growth of qualitative research. With so much focus now on the analysis of big data, it is absolutely vital that we find a way to give people a voice, and qualitative research is the perfect way to do that."
Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, said:
"UK research is one of Britain's lesser known success stories. Like the manufacture of Formula One cars, it's one of the sectors where the UK punches well above its weight and is a global leader.
“London in particular – with its global status and large and varied workforce – has provided a fantastic setting for the innovative agencies running their global operations from the capital.”
Jeremy King, founder and chief executive of Attest, commented:
"So many complex trends are changing market research: automation, new channels, ethical use of personal data, data science. Demand is shifting towards highly tailored insights.
“We can now deliver in-the-moment engagement to satisfy different types of demands while maintaining and enhancing transparency and insight quality.
“The market can and should be even larger."
Stan Sthanunathan, senior vice president of consumer and market insights at Unilever, commented:
"So many great research agencies have been born in the UK. This is undoubtedly prompted in part by a long history of listening to people's opinions, as well as a tradition of respecting free speech and the ballot box."
John Gambles, Chairman at Quadrangle Group, commented:
“In the second wave of digital, whoever can integrate research and data and turn this into value for clients has tremendous, unprecedented power. It is an enormously exciting period of change for our sector. We love what is happening."