- Pullback in government spending. In the U.S., federal government agencies are by far the biggest spenders for research services, investing an estimated $6.3 billion in 2012. However, the portion of that expenditure contracted to the private sector was down 18.3% last year. For example, one long-time supplier to federal agencies, Westat (ranked No. 4 on this year's Honomichl list), posted a revenue decline of 3.1% in 2012 — the first negative number for Westat since it has appeared in the ranking.
- Proliferation of online data collection. Online data collection, which continues to figure more prominently in research projects, costs less than traditional data collection methodologies. By allowing one to do the same amount of work for less, this leads to a reduction in some survey revenues.
- Slowing of focus group usage. An industry report showed that the number of focus groups conducted in the U.S. grew by 1.9% in 2012, compared with 4% in 2011 and 5.4% in 2010. This could signify a growing preference for mining consumer insights from social media sites in lieu of more expensive focus groups, Honomichl suggests.
Marketing Research Ends 2012 On Downward Trend
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