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
generates up to £4.8bn a year of Gross Value Added (GVA), employs close to
73,000 highly-qualified people, and makes a significant contribution to UK plc,
according to an independent review by advisors PwC.
The report, The Business of Evidence 2016, concluded that
the market has grown by almost £2 billion since the last sector review in 2012,
with the number of full-time employees increasing by nearly 14,000 in that
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, and
equivalent to UK book publishing.
Commissioned by the Market Research Society (MRS), the review demonstrates the current size and value of the UK’s professional research and evaluation market. Building on The Business of Evidence, the first comprehensive review of the sector published in 2012, the report shows impressive growth for the market, primarily driven by the growth of data analytics and the amount of research being undertaken in-house by the private sector.
The Business of Evidence 2016 provides a vital and
comprehensive understanding of the varied ‘evidence market’. It highlights the rapid expansion of data
analytics but also points to a simultaneous growth in qualitative research
being used to interrogate big data and convert it into ‘smart data’. It’s clear that the sector still has plenty
of scope for growth, and market and social research is continuously evolving to
keep pace with technological change.
Other findings from the report include:
• UK research
is a significant exporter of innovations and services and 36% of UK-based
research agencies’ annual turnover is generated internationally
• 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) jobsin the research
• Over 34,000
additional FTE jobsare 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 also contributes significantly to
the UK economy. 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 the important asset
that it is.
”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.”
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,
"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
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."