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Nielsen remains comfortably the largest market research company in the world, with revenues exceeding $6.3 billion last year, per the 2017 AMA Gold Global Top 25 Report [pdf]. While it counts the UK as its home country, virtually all (96.9%) of its revenues are generated outside of the UK.

In fact, the US accounts for more than half of Nielsen’s global revenues. Research released earlier this year [pdf] by the AMA revealed that Nielsen’s US revenues totaled more than $3.6 billion, or around 57% of its global revenues.

Next on the list of the largest companies globally is Kantar, which generated roughly $3.85 billion in revenues last year. To put Nielsen’s size in context, Kantar’s global revenues were only slightly more than Nielsen’s US total.

Like Nielsen, Kantar’s home country is the UK, though it does the bulk of its business (80.8%) outside of the UK. Kantar is third on the list of US research companies, though, sitting behind QuintilesIMS, a healthcare-focused company.

QuintilesIMS – formed through a merger last year of Quintiles and IMS Health – is a US-based company. It ranks third globally ($3.3 billion), actually deriving the majority (59%) of its revenues outside the US.

Its followed in the global rankings by Ipsos (#4; $1.96 billion) and GfK (#5; $1.68 billion). Those companies sit 5th and 7th, respectively, on the list of top firms by US revenues.

Rounding out the top 10 globally are:

  • IRI (US): $1.027 billion;
  • Westat (US): $511.5 million;
  • Wood MacKenzie (UK): $442.8 million;
  • INTAGE Holdings Inc. (Japan): $441.6 million; and
  • Dunnhumby (UK): $429 million.

It’s worth noting that the list does not include comScore (#10 on the list last year), for which financial statements were not available. It also excludes Rentrak, which merged with comScore early last year, and J.D. Power, which did not disclose its financial information. The AMA notes that these companies together represent upwards of $750 million in annual revenues.

Fastest-Growing Companies

There were few major moves within the top 25, with no company improving by more than 3 spots this year. New additions included BVA (#16), Mintel (#18), and NRC Health (#23).

Some companies enjoyed faster growth rates than others, though.

Among the top 10, #8 Wood MacKenzie sported the highest growth, of 21.4%, followed by #9 INTAGE, which grew by 17.5%.

QuintilesIMS – the third-largest company – experienced double-digit growth of 13%, while Nielsen and Kantar had more modest rises (2.2% and 3.7%, respectively).

Among the top 25, all but 7 grew revenues last year, with none declining by more than 3.1%. The aggregate growth rate for the top 25 global market research companies was 4.6% (3.3% when adjusted for inflation), to $22.5 billion.

US CMOs Put the Brakes on Marketing Research Spending?

Separately, the latest iteration of The CMO Survey indicates that US CMOs will increase their spending on marketing research and intelligence by 3.4% over the next year.

While that’s a solid level of planned growth, it’s down from the 5.3% forecast earlier this year by CMOs.

In this latest survey, expected growth in marketing research and intelligence investments were highest for:

  • B2B Services companies (4.9%) and B2B Product companies (4.6%); as well as
  • Companies in the CPG (6.8%) and Banking/Finance/Insurance (6.6%) sectors.

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