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Online Research Market Set to Double in Size in 2004

E-consultancy’s ‘Online Surveys and Research - A Buyer’s Guide’, published today, estimates that the size of the online research market in the UK will more than double in 2004, compared to 2003, with estimated values as high as £160m. BMRA figures estimate between 3% and 5% of total UK market research data collection is currently done online. However the leading research agencies E-consultancy profiled for the guide estimate that the figure is closer to 10% overall, and as high as 25% for bespoke research work.

In the US around 40% of all research work is now conducted online and UK research companies confidently expect the UK to reach these levels within the next two years. All are reporting huge growth in online research with their own sales in online research more than doubling this year.

“We are experiencing 100% growth in online research. Our healthcare sector is now mainly an online business”, says Mike Cooke, Global Director: Online Development, NOP World.

Despite the undoubted popularity of online research, some experts sound a note of caution that researchers may not always be using online techniques for the right types of projects or that the methodological frameworks underpinning the new medium have not been adequately refined. Equally, among research buyers there remain concerns over the samples and the prospect that there may be a rapid erosion in co-operation rates.

“Just because online research can be done quickly and cost effectively, it does not mean that market research best practice can be short-circuited online. Successful online research requires not only market research expertise but real experience of what works best through this new medium” says Ashley Friedlein, CEO, E-consultancy.


Apart from internet and e-commerce companies, the sectors showing the greatest growth in using online for research are financial services, alcoholic beverages, healthcare and wireless telecoms. Demand continues to be strongest for B2C research with business-to-business yet to take off except in certain niches, like IT professionals.

Larger blue chip companies, particularly the FMCG firms, remain the biggest spenders in market research, but the lower costs of online research are giving smaller companies the opportunity to conduct research, which they could not previously afford

“We’ve seen many more small to medium sized companies doing the kinds of survey research that the big companies do.  Because they are quicker, easier and more affordable, online surveys level the playing field and allow smaller players to compete with the big guys”, comments WebSurveyor CEO Bruce Mancinelli.

Over the coming months and years, as Internet penetration and broadband penetration continue to rise, there are many areas where online will see huge growth as the medium of choice for research. In particular, the opportunities presented by online as a visual research medium will create opportunities across the board. Advertising, concept testing, branding and new product development work will be key growth areas.

‘Online Surveys and Research - A Buyer’s Guide’ contains extensive information on best practice for conducting successful online surveys and research as well as detailed profiles of online survey software vendors and service providers in the UK market. The full paid-for report can be downloaded from Individual subscribers pay just £99 per year to access the full range of exclusive content featured on E-consultancy. A free sample of the report can be downloaded which includes market data and trends as well as an overview of the vendors and service providers operating in the UK.