US The Most Expensive Country For Market Research

October 17, 2012

It’s more expensive to conduct market research in the US than in any other country in the world, according to the ESOMAR 2012 Global Prices Study, released in October. The US’ Global Index score this year comes in at 241, followed closely by Switzerland (239), then Canada (229), Japan (222) and the UK (187). The composite index is calculated by combining the cheapest option for an ad hoc usage and attitude study with a series of group discussions, and ranking the order of costs by country.

Rounding out the top 10 are Sweden (168), Germany (165), Denmark (162), France (161) and the Netherlands (156).

While these 10 countries are unchanged from ESOMAR’s 2010 study, some of the rankings have changed considerably. The US and Switzerland retained their #1 and #2 positions, while Canada jumped seven positions to #3 in 2012. Japan rose one position to reach #4, while the UK rose four positions to reach #5. Sweden dropped two to #6, and Germany dropped one to #7. France dropped six positions to #9, and the Netherlands three positions to #10

Interestingly, the report finds that India, while remaining economical – has become comparatively more expensive. Growth in outsourced business and market research from India has fallen dramatically from 60% in 2007 to just 3% in 2011, according to an October 2012 report from ValueNotes, which analyzed key financial ratios among pure-play service providers with operations in India.

ESOMAR finds that the price of online research fell, even before allowing for inflation, in the 5 markets with the largest volume of research spending (the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan).

Bottom 10 In Flux

Pakistan has a Global Index score of 30, making it the least expensive country in the world in which to conduct market research this year. Several of the 10 least-expensive countries were new entrants to that list. Comparing 2010 rankings to 2012, Latvia dropped from 45 to 66; Romania from 46 to 59. Also new to the bottom-10 ranking are the Democratic Republic of Congo, ranked 58th in 2012 and Kenya, ranked at 61. Neither appeared on the 2010 ranking.

Research Options Not Universal

Research options vary broadly among respondent countries. Online access panels, for example, are not available in every market, or may be deemed inappropriate in some markets. Fewer US and Canadian agencies quoted in-home studies in 2012 than 2010, while in Asia West countries (e.g. India, Kazakhstan and Pakistan), far more agencies quoted face-to-face than telephone interviews.

Other Findings:

  • The cost of central location testing (CLT) has risen by about 20% over 2010 and the prices for telephone interviews by 10%.
  • Current trends indicate that there will be as many research vendors using online surveys as other modalities, globally, by 2014.
  • Face-to-face research is the most expensive modality, generally twice the cost of online, with telephone research falling between the two.

About The Data: ESOMAR’s 2012 Global Prices Study is based on quotes provided by 633 agencies across 106 countries in April and May 2012. Bids were submitted in response to a standardized set of projects comprising five consumer research projects (three quantitative, one qualitative and one utilizing online communities), one B2B project and a set of commercial tariffs for staff time and a presentation. The survey was conducted under the direction of two independent consultants. Fieldwork was conducted in a variety of currencies, but the study is reported in terms of US dollars using the exchange rates that prevailed on June 1 2012.

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