The UK’s top 100 research agencies grew by a staggering 9.9 per cent in 2022– up from 0.8 per cent in 2020 – with the value of the research sector reaching a total value of £9 billion.  This is according to the Research Live Industry Report 2024, published by MRS along with league tables of the top 100 research agencies and top 50 consolidated businesses.

Download the report here.

The report reveals the best year of growth for the research sector since the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the collective revenue of the top 100 agencies rising to £4.8 billion.  The UK now accounts for more than half of all European social and market research output, cementing its position as the second largest market for research globally behind the US.

The annual MRS league tables ranking the largest and the fastest growing research agencies and businesses, based on 2022 UK-based turnover, highlight the resilience of the sector during a tough economic year with just 17 out of the 100 top agencies reporting a decline in revenue. 

The report also showcases success beyond pure financial performance.  The gender pay gap within the UK research sector has narrowed to 13.3 per cent – below the national average of 14.3 per cent.  The agencies which have signed up to the MRS Inclusion Pledge committing to take action to promote diversity in their work are also highlighted in the league tables, as well as those who have signed the MRS Net Zero Pledge.  

As researchers seek to understand the impact of generative AI on their work, the report explores the major opportunities and challenges the technology presents for the sector.  Published at the end of last year, The Best Framework for Gen AI from the MRS Delphi Group offers practical guidance for responsible use of artificial intelligence in social and market research.

Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, comments: “These figures present a really encouraging picture of growth and are a welcome start to 2024. They emphasise the UK’s position as one of the lynchpins of the global research and analytics sector. At £9 billion, our sector makes a significant contribution to the UK’s global competitiveness and this reflects our continuing innovation and productivity gains.

“Aside from promising financial results, we’ve made inspiring progress in narrowing our gender pay gap.  Greater representation in our research and in our workforce is crucial to creating accurate and effective insights which benefit communities and businesses.

“While there’s still a sense of caution in the business community, there is clearly much to be excited about for our sector – from the progress we’re making on key issues to the potential of AI.  As we head into an historic election year, we’re in a brilliant position to help leaders across public and private sectors to really understand the people they are trying to serve.”

Download the Research Live Industry Report 2024 here.

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