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Market Leaders Deep Dive: U.S. Top 50 Listing

Take the ultimate peek into the GreenBook Market Leaders Report, at the U.S. Top 50 List. See what's changed, which companies have come and gone from the list, and which companies are new.

Editor’s Note: This subsection is featured in the GreenBook Market Leaders Report. The GreenBook Market Leaders Report is your #1 guide to brand success in the insights industry, featuring the U.S. Top 50, and in-depth analysis from leading CEOs. In its inaugural edition, you’ll learn who is in the lead, who is rising towards the top, and where your company fits into it all.

To provide continuity with previous reports, the 2019 U.S. Top 50 List features companies based on their traditional definition as a criterion for inclusion: service-based organizations that sell research predominantly to corporate insights departments. In this section, we explore that specific group of companies, while in subsequent sections we will look closely at the five industry segments we have defined.

The total 2018 research and analytics revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies along with 219 additional research companies that are members of the Insights Association was $29.43 billion. 2018 U.S. revenue from these 269 companies totaled $14.51 billion (49.3%), while 2018 non- U.S. revenue was $14.92 billion (50.7%).

All of these 269 companies are full-service research and analytics businesses whose areas of expertise and specialization reflect the breadth of our changing and expanding research industry, which includes data analytics, strategic consulting services, technology services, and platforms, as well as market, opinion, social, and survey research.

Invitations were sent out to about 75 companies whose annual U.S. research revenue was estimated to be about $15 million or more. These companies were asked to submit 2018 U.S. and non-U.S. research revenues, as well as the comparable data for 2017, in order to determine the annual rate of revenue growth or decline. If a firm made an acquisition or divestiture during 2018, then adjustments were made to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison.

The total 2018 revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies is $28.42 billion. U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies is $13.63 billion or 48% of their total 2018 revenue. Non-U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 totaled $14.79 billion or 52% of their total 2018 revenue.

The U.S. revenue of the U.S. Top 50 companies in 2018 represents 94% of the total U.S. 2018 revenue for the 269 companies. Non-U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 in 2018 totaled $14.79 billion or 99.1% of the total non-U.S. revenue of the 269 companies. The U.S. Top 50 chart lists the U.S. and non-U.S. annual revenue for 2018 and 2017, the YOY growth, and the number of full-time U.S. employees. In addition, we have provided profiles of each of the U.S. Top 50 companies that include the names and photos of the chief executives, along with a description of the company’s major services, acquisitions and divestitures, accomplishments in 2018, and current highlights of 2019.

In addition, we asked Top 50 CEOs to provide their perspectives on key highlights, trends, concerns, and hopes for both their company and the industry. These CEO Perspectives will be featured inline with the profiles of each company throughout the segment sections. The additional 219 Insights Association member companies reported a total of $875 million in U.S. revenue in 2018. The median U.S. revenue of these 219 companies is about $1 million, while the average is $4 million. 34% of the 219 companies conduct research outside of the U.S. These 75 companies account for a total of $128 million non-U.S. revenue in 2018. The median non-U.S. revenue of these 75 companies is $900,000 and the average is $1.7 million.

The total number of full-time U.S. employees in 2018 for the 269 companies included in this report was 50,791. In 2018, the U.S. Top 50 companies had 47,576 f/t U.S. employees, and the 219 Insights Association members had 3,215 f/t U.S. employees.

U.S. Growth Rate in 2018

The growth rate in the U.S. market for the U.S. Top 50 companies in 2018 was 5.9%. The last time this level of growth was reached was in 2016.

The growth rate for the U.S. Top 50 companies and the 219 other Insights Association members was 5.6%. After adjustment for inflation—Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.9%—the real-growth rate for 2018 is 3.7%. This is a substantial increase in growth as compared to 2017, when the growth rate reported for all of the companies included in the U.S. Top 50 Report was two percentage points lower: 3.5%, or 1.4% when adjusted for inflation.

The chart below compares the U.S. Top 50 Reports from 2008 to 2018, showing the slow and intermittent recovery from the 2009 recession, followed in 2015 by a significant increase of over 4% in the industry’s real growth rate.

The 2018 industry growth rate in the U.S. shows a strong recovery from the 2017 decline in growth rate.


We can also look to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as another benchmark. In the next chart, the annual U.S. GDP shows the yearly growth of the estimated value of all the country’s goods produced and services provided. As reported in previous U.S. Top 50 reports, the U.S. research industry’s annual growth rate has historically tracked ahead of the annual GDP real growth rate, except during the recession of 2009 and, again, in 2012. In 2017 the U.S. research industry’s growth rate tracked slightly ahead of the GDP at 1.2%. In 2018 the revenue growth of the 269 companies analyzed for the U.S. Top 50 Report exceeded growth in nominal GDP by 2.7%, more than doubling the growth rate from 2017.

Global Growth Rate in 2018

The growth rate for global revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies in 2018 was 3.9%, considerably lower than the 5.9% growth rate for U.S. revenue. While the total non- U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies continues to be greater than their total U.S. revenue, the gap between the U.S. and non-U.S. revenue has decreased slightly. In the following chart, the non-U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies represents 52% of the total 2018 revenue, as compared to 2017 figures, in which non-U.S. revenue represented 53.3% of total revenue. This slight decrease is not surprising since the global economy generally experienced slower economic growth in 2018 as compared to the U.S.

The Employment Picture

In 2018, the number of full-time U.S. employees among the U.S. Top 50 companies was 47,576, an increase of 6.9% over the previous year.

For the U.S. Top 50 companies, the U.S. revenue per full-time employee in 2018 was $286,573. This chart shows how revenue per employee for the U.S. Top 50 has trended since 2010.

Changes in Top 50 List

New This Year

There are five new U.S. Top 50 companies:

  • #2, Gartner Research, the largest of four business segments in Gartner Inc., headquartered in Stamford, CT, delivers independent, objective advice to leaders across the enterprise, primarily through a subscription-based digital media service.
  • #11, J.d. Power, headquartered in Costa Mesa, CA, is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics and is most recognized for its syndicated quality and customer satisfaction studies of the automotive and many other industries.
  • #28, National Research Group (NRG), headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, is a leading global insights and strategy firm at the intersection of entertainment and technology, coordinating qualitative and quantitative research to solve complex problems.
  • #29, SMG (Service Management Group), headquartered in Kansas City, MO, is a customer experience management firm that partners with more than 350 brands around the globe to create better customer and employee experiences.
  • #50, Research America, headquartered in Newtown Square, PA, is a value-based, full-service and field market research firm that provides organizations with consumer insight needed to enhance products and services for their customer base.
Not Here This Year

There are four previous U.S. Top 50 companies that are not on the list this year:

  • Burke, founded in 1931 and headquartered in Cincinnati, OH chose not to participate this year.
  • Kelton Global of Culver City, CA was acquired by LRW Group.
  • NAXiON, founded in 1911 and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA chose not to participate this year.
  • Rti Research, founded in 1979 and headquartered in Norwalk, CT chose not to participate this year
Name Changes

Four companies on this year’s Top 50 list have new identities:

  • #21, Escalent is the new brand name for Market Strategies International and Morpace, which combined as one company in 2018 as part of an acquisition by private equity firm STG Partners.
  • #22, Concentrix expanded its customer experience research footprint by acquiring Convergys and its extensive research portfolio, including Voice of the Customer (VOC) survey technology and CX analytics.
  • #25, Engine insights—formerly ORC International—is one of the four major marketing solutions divisions of Engine Group, a data-driven marketing solutions company.

U.S. Top 50 Revenue Increases and Decreases

The chart below compares U.S. revenue increases and decreases for the U.S. Top 50 companies in the U.S. Top 50 Reports for the past four years.

In 2018, one-quarter (13) of the U.S. Top 50 companies reported double-digit increases in YOY revenue, with the average percent of increase at 22.7%. Nine out of the thirteen companies achieved 2% or more YOY growth in 2018.

  • #23, Phoenix Marketing international (Rhinebeck, NY) realized a 113.9% increase largely through the acquisition of Nielsen’s Brand Effect products and services.
  • #33, Fors Marsh Group (Arlington, VA), which utilizes behavioral and data science to improve organizational processes, business solutions, and customer experiences, increased their 2018 revenue by 43.5%.
  • #36, LRA, a Deloitte Business (Horsham, PA), a customer experience company helping clients improve brand health, recorded a 35.2% increase.
  • #22, Concentrix (Fremont, CA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SYNNEX Corporation specializing in technology-enabled customer engagement, realized a 34.9% increase.
  • #50, Research America (Newtown Square, PA), a new addition to the U.S Top 50, had a 34.9% increase in 2018 U.S. revenue.
  • #46, KS&R (Syracuse, NY), which creates and executes global custom market research initiatives in more than 100 countries and 50 languages, realized a 30.2% YOY increase in U.S. revenue.
  • #35, Radius GMR (New York, NY), providing strategic insights based on attitudinal and behavioral approaches to brand performance, realized a 23.5% YOY increase.
  • #45, Chadwick Martin Bailey (Boston, MA), a consultative primary research company providing insights and strategy on brand development and management, increased their 2018 U.S. revenue by 20.8%.
  • #2, Gartner Research (Stamford, CT), a new addition to the U.S. Top 50, realized a 2% YOY increase in U.S. research revenue.

Only one-quarter (12) of the U.S. Top 50 companies reported that revenue was flat or decreased in 2018, with the average percent of decrease at -4.9%. This is the lowest number of companies reporting flat or declining annual revenue for many years.

On an even more positive note, one-half (25) out of the U.S. Top 50 companies reported single-digit increases in YOY revenue, with the average percentage of increase at 4.7%.

Putting it all together, three quarters of the U.S. Top 50 companies (38 out of 50) reported that 2018 was a very good year. For these 38 companies, total U.S. revenue was $11.79 billion, compared to $10.93 billion in 2017 – a growth rate of 7.9%.

Changes in the U.S. Top 50 Rankings

With the addition of two new companies that are among the largest (#2 Gartner Research and #11 J.D. Power) and two new companies that fit in the middle of this year’s U.S. Top 50 companies (#28 National Research Group and #29 Service Management Group), most of the U.S.Top 50 companies moved down at least one position this year.

One company managed to overcome the downward direction, moving up nine positions.

  • Phoenix Marketing International moved from #32 in last year’s U.S. Top 50 Report to #23 in this year’s U.S. Top 50. As noted earlier, Phoenix’s revenue increase relates to the 2018 acquisition of Nielsen’s Brand Effect product and programs.

Three other companies moved up three positions in this year’s U.S. Top 50 Report.

  • Fors Marsh Group moved up from #36 in last year’s U.S Top 50 to #33 in this year’s report.
  • LRA, a Deloitte business moved up from #39 in last year’s report to #36 this year.
  • KS&R moved to #46 this year from #49 in last year’s U.S. Top 50 Report.

The Top Ten

Nielsen, Gartner Research, IQVIA, Kantar, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Westat, comScore, The NPD Group, and GfK together realized 2018 U.S. revenue of $10.92 billion and non-U.S. revenue of $12.85 billion, for total worldwide revenue of $23.77 billion.

The U.S. revenue for the Top Ten represents over 8% of the total U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies and 75.3% of the total 2018 U.S. revenue for the 269 companies included in this report. The Top Ten’s non-U.S. revenue in 2018 represents 86.9% of the total non-U.S. revenue for the U.S. Top 50 companies and 86.1% of the total non-U.S. revenue for all 269 companies. Nielsen, with its $6.52 billion accounts for 22.2% of the total 2018 revenue for all 269 companies.

  • #10, GfK (New York, NY), founded in 1934, continues to lead the Top Ten with the largest percentage of non-US research at over 8% of their total revenue. GfK connects data and science through innovative research solutions to answer clients’ questions about consumers, markets, brands, and media.
  • #9, the NPD Group (Port Washington, NY), founded in 1966, combines data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics across many industries to measure markets, predict trends, and improve performance. NPD’s syndicated services include retail tracking, distributor tracking, and consumer tracking.
  • #8, comScore (Reston, VA), founded in 1999, provides a cross-platform measurement of audiences, advertising, and consumer behavior through products and solutions that are powered by the industry-leading census, big data, and panel information assets that serve 3,200 clients around the world.
  • #7, Westat (Rockville, MD), founded in 1963, is a 1% employee-owned research and professional services company that provides extensive survey design and operations capabilities in support of modern data collection from households, institutions, businesses, and individuals.
  • #6, Ipsos (New York, NY), founded in 1975, covers the whole information production and analysis chain, from the collection of raw data to the activation of the information generated with the client, along with a solid tradition of innovation through new methodological developments and products.
  • #5, information Resources inc. (Chicago, IL), founded in 1979, is a provider of big data, predictive analytics, and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, financial services, and media companies grow their businesses and connect with consumers and key constituents.
  • #4, Kantar (New York, NY), founded in 1993, is a data, insights, and consulting company providing techniques and technologies, from purchase and media data to predicting long-term trends; from neuroscience to exit polls; from quantitative to qualitative research, incorporating ethnography and semiotics.
  • #3, IQVIA (Danbury, CT; Durham, NC), founded in 2016, is a provider of information, innovative technology solutions, and contract research services focused on helping healthcare clients find better solutions for patients by applying human data science to enable companies to reimagine and develop new approaches.
  • #2, Gartner Research (Stamford, CT), founded in 1972, is the largest of four business segments in Gartner Inc., and delivers objective advice to leaders across the enterprise, primarily through a subscription-based digital media service, combining proprietary research methodologies with extensive industry relationships.
  • #1, Nielsen (New York, NY), founded in 1923, provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and what they buy and how those choices intersect. It delivers critical media and marketing information, analytics and manufacturer and retailer expertise.

Revenue by Industry Served and by Type of Service

We asked the U.S. Top 50 companies (a) to estimate the percent of their annual U.S. revenue by the client industry and also (b) to estimate the percent of revenue by the type of service they provide to their clients.

The second question aligns with our efforts to assess and measure the transformation of our industry by including new markets, new methods, and new tools. The data help assess whether and to what extent the U.S. Top 50 companies are exploring and/or investing in new services and new approaches.

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