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Highlights of the ESOMAR Users & Buyers Global Insights Study 2021

Internal research teams are conducting more projects than ever, but budgets are shrinking. We need to do more with less.

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The market research industry has been at the heart of recent changes in consumer behavior, as insights professionals work hard to understand changing audiences. That's why studies like the ESOMAR Global Study of Users and Buyers of Insights are so important right now – we all need to intimately understand the environment we are working in and the shifting expectations of the marketplace.

This 2021 study marks the second wave of research into how the usage and application of insights is evolving.  ESOMAR partnered with organizations and associations around the world to garner responses from more than 800 insights users and buyers from 61 countries. Infotools supported the ESOMAR team, with our platform, Harmoni, used to analyze and visualize key data for the report and provide critical comparisons.

Ray Poynter of Potentiate and NewMR highlighted some of the key initial findings at a recent ESOMAR webinar. The biggest takeaway? “Do more with less.” That’s right, internal research teams are conducting more projects than ever, but some respondent’s budgets are shrinking. Using Harmoni to compare the data from 2020 to the most recent wave, Ray found that:

  • More and more research buyers – client-side companies – are bringing their insights function in-house (40% in 2020 vs. 48% in 2021). This is an important change in just one year, and the data showed that this trend would likely continue to increase. Ray indicated that this does vary widely from client to client, depending on region and category.
  • The total volume of projects is steadily increasing, as indicated by responses to “Do you think that the amount of research you are doing this year is higher or lower than last year?” as those who reported an increase in work went from 59% in 2020 to 62% in 2021, and a forecasted rise of 64% for 2022. 
  • Budgets are getting smaller or staying the same for research. In 2021, 71% of respondents said that either their budgets were decreasing or staying the same. They do, however, feel more optimistic about the future, forecasting that only 10% will anticipate a budget decrease for 2022.

When Ray dove into the data a little deeper, he showed what these numbers actually mean: fewer than half of those expecting more work expect a budget increase, and many will be doing more with smaller budgets altogether. Thus, his assessment that internal researchers will be expected to “do more with less” in the coming months.

This leads right into the challenges that respondents indicated they were facing in the coming year. The top three concerns included: capacity issues, such as insufficient resources and increased workloads; external factors, such as COVID-19 and marketplace pressures; and information overload, or the ability to integrate the massive amounts of data they have coming at them. (Luckily, Harmoni can help with this!)

The ESOMAR Users and Buyers global Insights Study is now available on the ESOMAR website.

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